Planting angle and pot choice for White Cedar?

Hi everyone, I hope this is ok to post here. This tree needs a repot this spring and the current position amplifies the wide base but I wonder if the straight deadwood is odd going off at an angle? Also, what kind of pot do you see this tree in?


I like this piece…is it collected (if so what about the environment would you want to covey with the pot?). Deadwood leads your eye. You could add movement there if you wanted to. I think the tree is masculine because of the stout base. That said the thin elongated deadwood may conflict with that. I would think a shallow’er rectangle unglazed or a matte cream color for the container or a deep copper/brown color. Idk it’s hard to say because it’s based on your taste, vision and direction! What did you have in mind? Angle it needs to rotate so it’s more 3d not as 2d’ish.


I kinda like the deadwood, it’s odd but it makes the tree unique. If you decided to keep the deadwood you should name the tree “The Narwhal”. If you’re not happy with the length maybe consider shortening it, or even experimenting with steam bending to add some soft movement to it. The tree is pretty masculine, I see it in a somewhat deep rectangular pot, but maybe with some soft curves on the pot corners to compliment the curvy base of the tree. Very nice material!


Thanks you have made some good points. Yes, the tree is collected by me from a sandy and steep Lake Michigan shoreline. I am trying to think how I could represent that in a pot. Also, I agree with the tree needing to be less 2d.

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I like it very much.
“Sir Lancelot” or “ The Emerald Unicorn” are two names that came immediately to mind.
Normally, I would be put off by such a long, straight piece of deadwood. But it works perfectly with the short, powerful, character-filled tree you have created.
Yes, “Sir Lancelot” indeed!
Pot selection will be much fun to explore with this one.

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Thanks @DalSom I like your name ideas. My wife started calling this Gnarwhal from day one so @Mike_Hennigan nailed it haha!

Im happy to hear your thoughts on the deadwood. I wonder if it is too un-natural not sticking straight up but I personally enjoy it this way. Also, I agree that the pot exploration on this one will be fun and I am open to ideas. I I think I am going to start with a nice rough textured rectangle but I have explored some ideas with a unique flagstone pot made by a freind of mine with a higher right side then left side.

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A few pics of how it started.


I like the tree’s straight arrow deadwood. What I don’t like are the branches on the left. Here’s a statue of a kneeling archer:

I’m not saying you need to follow the theme of an archer, but there is a dynamic in the statue that resembles the dynamics of your tree’s base. The archer’s forward knee matches your tree. It carries a sense of motion to the left side of the tree’s base. There, the archer’s rear leg forms a wide strong base, again, the same as your tree. These motions impart a sense of swirling turbulence with purpose.

At the top of the tree, and the archer, the swirling motion has been tamed from three dimensions down to one. The turbulence gives a sense of stored kinetic energy waiting to be released. All of that energy comes down to one straight line.

But look at the left side of your tree. The branches are all pointing up in the opposite direction. Many of the branches are straight; and there are plenty of branches over there. To me, I see all the tension and turbulence of the base being released as if a pressure valve had blown out. I’d like to see fewer branches over there, and I’d like to see them supporting the transition from base to deadwood.

Finally, I’d like to see the top most branching more in line with focused energy for the deadwood. Where the base is stored turbulent power, the first branches should be more turbulent than the top. There is so much movement in the base and such a straight top, I want to see the foliage (and maybe some lower deadwood) reflecting the concentration of power to one straight line.


Thanks for this, you have given me a lot to think about and I agree with a lot of your thoughts. I have been planning to bring down a lot of the branches on the left. I also like the idea of trying to get some similar deadwood direction movement to the arrow but not sure how to acomplish that. Your example with the archer is interesting.

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Hahaha! Nice, I must have a knack for naming trees :joy:


Amazing piece of material and how well did it grow since collection! I tend to agree with @BillsBayou but not necessarily because of the archer and all that stored energy. I would consider removing at the very least the two lower branches on the left, the one that is parallel to the base and the one above it. The next one is a problem, I am not quite sure what to do with it but would hope that it is not too thick to be bent to come around the back and frame the negative space behind the curve of the main trunk. The rest of the foliage on the top you can thin a bit and use to build the pads. The narwal tusk is a bit weird but it is so contrasting with the movement of the tree that is not out of place. If you want something more harmonious, you could steam bend it to return back toward the left so that your tree makes an inverse S - also in the case you could use that branch that I suggested to bend down around to the back to frame the negative space with the new position of the deadwood. This is definitely an option if that branch cannot be moved. One last alternative is to have this tree look like a multi apex tree and simply remove the narwal tusk, and loose the appearance of flow to the right in favour of a stable multi apex tree.

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Thanks Rafi I have considered this exact thing since collection, its nice to hear some agreement with that. Removing those two branches would allow me to bend down branches above it a bit more. None of the branches are too thick to bend. I have considered steam bending for the deadwood but I too think I like the very contrasting tusk, it makes the tree different and odd which, for now, I like.

I am happy I posted this here, impressed with the quality of responses and thought provoking ideas… thanks everyone!


How long since collection?

I prepared some of the roots in spring 15’ and collected into that tub in spring 16’. Crazy how fast this one has come along, sometimes they come out with a really good start on roots.

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@rafi, this is why there are merry-go-rounds and roller coasters. Not everyone likes one over the other. You’ve given more detailed instructions than I did. I like where you’re going. So it’s up to @MattSfromMI. Does he go with


or something else entirely? :wink:

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Great tree! We have yellow cedar here in the Northwest that look to have a lot of similar characteristics as your white cedars around the great lakes. Awesome trees, very wild and unique to themselves.
The approach I have learned is to try to look at the tree objectively and pot at the angle that gives you the best base, the best line of the trunk, accentuates special features and deadwood ect.
That will set you up to design the tree from there.
I’d guess there might be some really nice features below the current soil line as well.
Nice tree, have fun w/ it.


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I have been looking at the tree for sometime but since pruning the tree, I see shohin. The straight portion of the tree running to the right with the narwhal is not particularly interesting although the old features along the horn (?) are, but not enough to keep it. You would have incredible taper, quite unique for any yamadori. One problem with my suggestion, among others, is the lack of any branching on the right. Grafting branches on the right would help. Don’t have the tree’s dimensions. A view of the current back could help.

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Thanks for your thoughts David, this tree is roughly 16’’-18’’ wide at the base so it may be bigger than you guessed. I also had not considered grafting on the right side, to me it is a tight curve on the right side and grafting a branch in that area would not work so well.

I thought I would update this thread with the pot and angle I went with for this tree’s first potting. I didn’t take any major chances on this first round but so far I like it. Let me know what you think and don’t be shy.


I think it looks great. Definitely a Unicorn! :slight_smile:

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