Hello, this is my first post and it has questions that pertain to both design and horticulture. I will be very grateful for help with either or both!
First! I realize my Kometsuga does not have a fat trunk, taper or nebari. As a dwarf cultivar it probably never will. I need an open mind to accept this small shohin as valued for its unique characteristics that are indicative of this species. This is not a cookie cutter JBP shohin!
Horticulture) Going forward, anyone have experience with Japanese Hemlock care? Any guidelines or tips for keeping them happy? I have heard they are not as sensitive as Canadian Hemlock, which I have had mixed success with. I currently have one dwarf Tsuga canadensis and I keep both Hemlocks together on my shade bench. Earlier this spring I repotted the Tsuga diversifolia into this sweet little Syuzan pot. It has shown no signs of stress from being transplanted. The new buds have finished opening and have all hardened off. I feed it every other week with Jack’s 20-20-20 and generally give it a little water twice a day. This winter it will be in my heated coldframe which stays above 34 degrees. Is there anything I should be doing differently?
Horticulture/Design) For those familiar with Kometsuga, what are my seasonal windows for pruning and such?
Design) What do you think of the height? My inclination it that it should be lower but I don’t want to lose the apex. If I do keep it this height, should I tuck in the sides?
Design) What direction would you go in for pruning? Do you see a refined silhouette in this tree? Shape of the foliage?
Thanks for any help!
Firstly, can I thank you for helping me identify my shohin!
I bought this from a garden centre as a dwarf yew, but it is clearly a dwarf hemlock (Kometsuga)
I have been growing it for about 4 years, and in that time I improved the taper by gently brushing the base of the trunk (with jin pliers) to encourage scaring (you could see better if I cleaned the moss!). Careful with this technique, as too much will sever the vascular system!
As you can see I had a bit of die back on the lower branch this year: wiring, not re-potting, winter damage or a combination of all 3!
Treat them as any other elongating species. When you are happy with its health clean it out and prune to 2 junctions, then wire so that the branches can find the sun. My plant has a habit of making dense pads, which shade out lower branches. The tree will find its own style.
I found mine in the back forty of a water garden koi nursery in early spring. It had been untended for years ( other than water ) and I couldn’t resist purchase ( because of the trunk! ).
Repotted to bonsai soil in April and in recovery since. Foliage looking thin and could use help in perking it up before winter.
Very cool! It was lucky to find another owner of this rare cultivar of Kometsuga! I like your idea of increasing the base of the trunk through scarring. I have another tree, a Dwarf Pagoda, that would also benefit from this method.
Thanks for the advice!
Best of luck! I think it might be a Cole’s Prostrate Canadian Hemlock. I killed two large Canadian Hemlock and keep one small shohin right now. They can be finicky about both rootwork and crown pruning. They tend to drop needles and dieback when unhappy. It’s a beautiful example, I hope it pulls through for you!
Cole’s it is, you were right on the money. You mentioned dropping of needles an such. Did you develop any recipe for healthy recovery?
I am having Bjorn Bjorholm look at it this weekend for a workshop and hate the thought that it won’t make it through it all ( that trunk is just sooo interesting ).
Thanks for your interest.
Bring two trees. I have a feeling Bjorn will tell you it needs to build some strength. Trunk is great!
I believe you are right. Maybe I could just discuss design ideas with him about it.
I still can’t find any info on the WWW about recovery aids.
Maybe Ryan is watching and can give some support?
Lots of shade! When it comes to sun, less is more with Hemlock!
Let me know if there are any insights if you bring it. Good luck!
Had the Bjorn workshop and of course you were right. He did say the trunk was epic but that it needed a couple of grow seasons to see where it will go next.
That is the only minus to bonsai that I have realized so far in that most of your work just sits and waits for another time, you make a small adjustment and it sits for more time, etc., etc. I am closer to 70 than I like to admit with one heart surgery already. Do I just need to resign myself to will these trees to someone who can finish what I start ( boy, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, am I )?
My advice for bonsai is that you need to either have so few trees that you can focus on other things, or you have enough trees that there is always something going on. Very little sitting to be done!
I have 100 trees in many different stages and sizes. I never have time for existential dread in relation to my bonsai.
I also had a brush with mortality a few years ago. We are all, regardless of age, one bad step away from having someone else finish our trees for us. Keep buying green bananas and pre-bonsai.
Again, you are right on the money.
For the same reason, I am still riding my Harley as long as I can!