Bald Cypress "Bayou-Cascade" Style

I’m a little pissed off by what I heard at the ABS event in Houston. A well-known bonsai artist critiqued a couple of the bald cypress on display with statements that made me smile and keep my mouth shut. Bald cypress do NOT all grow vertical as formal uprights do. Informal upright and slant styles do faithfully represent mature bald cypress. There were other comments that made me want to argue, but I smiled and nodded with the rest of us.

It won’t be enough to keep displaying bald cypress bonsai at shows and insist “this is how they grow!” The bonsai world needs to see the many ways that bald cypress live, survive, and decline. I’d like to drag people into the swamps by their noses, but it’s difficult to paddle my kayak and drag someone’s nose at the same time.

I’ve been collecting many photos of bald cypress on my paddling trips. Saturday, I came upon a tree that made me wonder “How would the bonsai world receive THIS!?” The photo, below, is a screen capture from video I shot. As you can see from where I’m standing, the trunk is hollowed out. My guess on this “Bayou-Cascade” is that the tree was shaped by decay. The channel formed on the outside of the arch. As the tree leaned further and further, the channel allowed the tree to form this graceful arch. The branch at the top of the arch has become the new dominant trunk. The roots of the tree are to the left. To the right, note that subsequent branches lean further and further out, much like a clump style.

If I were to style a bald cypress like this an enter it into a national show, I can only imagine the criticisms it would receive. Granted, I’d need a very interesting pot for such a tree. I’d place a photo of this tree next to my bonsai. On the back of the photo I’d write “Quit complaining. They do this.”



I don’t know thing one about Bald Cypress but I believe nature is a mad scientist and anything is possible. Great pic!

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too bad you didn’t call out bull**t when you heard it @BillsBayou, I’d probably would have been less diplomatic as expected.

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judged shows are inherently limited by the experience and knowledge of the judges … I think 30y from now we will have judges for each regions natives but until then if someone’s goal is to win an award then know your audience and ‘play the game’; ive read lots of your posts and questions and you don’t strike me as being after a blue ribbon … obviously you’re just venting some frustration … that being said I savor the fact that I am a hobbyist and can style any tree however I want and it doesn’t really matter how many people ‘get it’; with your knowledge of SE natives and BC specifically I personally think you should take some pride in the depth and breadth of your experience and use it to do some innovative designs; I’d love to see you submit a cascade or raft style BC to a show :wink:

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Thank you for sharing this! I’d love to see a lot more examples of cool bald cypress that you find. I personally have a little collection of collected dawn redwood (self-seeded in public spaces… that still counts, right?) and they have similar growth habits and similar habitats. Virtually all I’ve seen are formal uprights and I’d like to change that! I doubt we’ll have many people on Bonsai Mirai that regularly venture through their native habitat, and we’re lucky we have you on here to show us what they look like in the wild from a bonsai-enthusiast’s perspective.

No! I’m not after blue ribbons. The world is filled with people who have Japanese bonsai stuck in their brains. I’ll never be good enough to please them because I’d have to be in their mindset to please them. Not where I want to be as a Louisiana bonsai artist.

I’ll have more videos and photos coming when I get my head straight again.

Dawn redwoods do have similar growth habits, but I’m not familiar enough with them to give full care advice.

I love photos of trees in their natural habitats. It’s a great source of inspirations.

A good source of tree-loving photographers is on Reddit in the “MarijuanaEnthusiasts” subreddit at Yes, that’s the name of the group. The people who created the group are making fun of the people who started the “Trees” subreddit but only post about smoking pot.

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Do you have a picture of the tree they were “criticizing.” just curious so I could have a visual to go with it. I’ve seen so many unique Cypress.