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Water Gardens: Ponds and full grown bonsai trees

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mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 3, 2009
12:18 AM

Post #5958357

I am planning (and dreaming of Springtime) in my garden and recently toured the Botanical Gardens in Illinois and want to create bonsai scotch pines like they did in their Japanese gardens. I'm not sure if you would call large evergreens trimmed-bonsai but I hope you all know what I mean. I am looking to create some layering around the pond and want some light evergreen coverage instead of heavy coverage and want to trim some evergreens similar to the style of bonsia as well as add some light and feathery style evergreens (in maybe yellow-whitish color to contract the greens/and blue greens.

Has anyone else done this and do you have any tips or advise. Does anyone have any recommendations on light coverage evergreens that are yellow in color that are similar to a cosmos flowers leaves (airy)? I hope I am making sense here.

Linda
snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

January 3, 2009
4:32 AM

Post #5959502

I have one of these. They really look like that. Is this the look you're going for? You need ic-conifers here for obvious reasons.

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera Aurea'
http://www.fowlersnursery.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantDetail&plant_id=502
mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 3, 2009
5:02 AM

Post #5959597

I have four golden mops and love them as well but I am thinking upright and airy about 7 feet tall or taller. Triangluar in shape. Also, I would like maybe a Trimmed up Scotch pine (like overgrown bonsai). I want the intimacy without too much visual coverage-does that make sense? I want to be able to see on the other side of the tree to some degree.
snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

January 3, 2009
6:50 AM

Post #5959778

Picea orientalis 'Skylands'

http://www.hort.net/gallery/view/pin/picorsk/

This is a really neat conifer. Mine is about 6-1/2 ft.

This message was edited Jan 3, 2009 1:51 AM
FrillyLily
springfield area, MO
(Zone 5b)

January 3, 2009
6:58 AM

Post #5959790

My advice would be to not plant them too close together. I always tend to crowd things
The trees will look nicer I think if they are each individual, but still close. That way you can see the design of each tree as you prune it. I don't know if that makes sense or not!
The only other thing I can think to remind you of is about berries or seeds ect, nothing to drop in the pond to clean or harm the fish.
mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 3, 2009
9:46 PM

Post #5961836

Here is a picture (not a great version of what I want but it does manage to show you the concept I want to achieve). The trimmed evergreen tree is what I want. When I say you can see through it I mean you can see the garage on the other side of it because a lot of the branches have been removed.

Thumbnail by mothermole
Click the image for an enlarged view.

snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

January 4, 2009
1:11 AM

Post #5962709

Ah Ha! Now I understand. That style is called Niwaki. Get a the book called 'Niwaki' by Jake Hobson. It has everything you need to know about achieving that look. There are numerous illustrations, cultivar lists and drop dead gorgeous photos of mature sculpted Japanese gardens. They don't just grow that way. It takes a good eye, a steady hand with the pruners and great, great patience. On page 69 there is a shot of the fall pruning of a Pinus thunbergii into the shape your hoping to achieve. The fall shaping is called the "momiage process". That trunk on the one in your photo was probably wired very early to get those bends. According to Hobson, in the US pines that adapt to this process are P. aristata, P. contorta, P. radiata, and the very common P. strobus. I haven't tried my hand at this, but probably will. I plan on using a Pinus strobus, exactly which cultivar I havn't decided . It grows fairly fast and I should see some results in 5-7 years, depending on the cultivar.

The alternative is to find one already begun, pay through the nose, and teach yourself how to shape and maintain it. I have never, ever, come across one here in a nursery that was done that way. But, this is a backwater when it comes to nursery stock. I would not be surprised if you were able to find one. I would indeed be envious.
mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 4, 2009
2:30 AM

Post #5963003

Snapple, Were we separated at birth, because it always seems you and I like a lot of the same stuff. Since you own this book does that mean you are also very interested in the look? These trees are all over the Botanical Gardens in Illinois and look so great in the summer but really popped out in the winter. This was the first time I went to that garden in the winter and I find it interesting that I saw a completely different place through My Winter Eyes. Thanks for the help and I will look into that book.

Linda
snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

January 4, 2009
3:23 AM

Post #5963209

Once you get the book you'll see what Niwaki is all about. Making it look so natural, when in fact it's an aduous process, is achieved when the casual viewer doesn't know the labor involved. I find some of it overdone a bit, but 95% is awe inspiring. Pinus strobus is cheap, readily available, vigorous and a fast grower. If I screw up I won't be out much except for my time. I plan to start with a 2' to 3 ' in a container and see what happens. If I can get it off to a decent start then I will put it in the ground. You can get the bends and twists in the pliable new green growth with less chance of a mishap. The picture you posted is a pretty good guide to trunk training.
mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 4, 2009
10:09 AM

Post #5963951

I don't really like the outcome of the look of that tree in my picture. I can't put my finger on what seems wrong but it doesn't look like it is natural or a very old tree. It demonstrated what I was talking about though. I ordered the book on Amazon. This studying up over the wintertime is about the only thing to do as I wait impatiently for the garden to thaw out.
WNYwillieB
Buffalo, NY
(Zone 6a)

January 5, 2009
1:36 PM

Post #5968428

I have never done bonsai, but my best friend in high school, his mom did them with great success. And not only with pines.

I know from personal experience that most pines love to be pruned and respond well to it. I have 5 or 6 types that I have kept in shape (trad. christmas tree shape) for decades.

When I first planted my White Pines in front, my neighbor rushed out to talk me out of putting them so close to HIS property line. "You know those THINGS get 40 foot, right?"

I told him, that with pruning, they will not get more than 12 foot tall. He scoffed and went back inside. 20 years later, and they are still 12 foot tall ... See ...

Thumbnail by WNYwillieB
Click the image for an enlarged view.

mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 5, 2009
4:43 PM

Post #5969112

Willie: I never saw a trimmed pine before. I have a few on my property that are huge and airy but HUGE is the word. 40 plus feet tall. Do you hand trim it or with an electric trimmer? It really looks nice and full.
WNYwillieB
Buffalo, NY
(Zone 6a)

January 5, 2009
5:11 PM

Post #5969251

I use electric hedge trimmers, hand hedge pruners and small hand pruners, depending on the tree.

You can also see a smaller pine, about 3 foot tall, next to the white pine in the pic above that gets pruned, too.

Each type of pine needs different techniques for pruning. My white pines get pruned in the spring when the new growth is about 4 inches long or so. If you wait until fall to prune your white pine the branches get too lanky to look full. For example, if you prune Colorado Blue Spruce in the spring, you cut off all the blue! So, prune that one late fall, for example, or before new growth starts in the spring.

I made a mistake of NOT TRIMMING my white pines one year, and they grew really LANKY and left a big gap in the branches on the one you don't see in the picture. They are finally growing in, but it took several years.

I have "twin" white pines planted near the sidewalk on each side of the front lawn.

I am not sure I would hack back a mature pine to start trimming, but keep young pines in check with constant pruning. I think with bonsai, you need to keep trimming the roots, as well as the branches.

I have pruned some mature pines back a bit, but a little at a time. It actually saved one that was dying, I think.

I saw a news video on christmas trees, and it showed a guy with a machete trimming them perfectly into shape.
mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 5, 2009
6:24 PM

Post #5969482

I have no plans of trimming my large and lovely pine tree. It is an important part of my landscape and my shade garden grotto. It add a nice intimacy to my stream and patio. I am however, thinking of doing exactly what you did to the pine and keeping it smaller and controlled. It looks so nice in your pictures.
WNYwillieB
Buffalo, NY
(Zone 6a)

January 5, 2009
9:03 PM

Post #5970124

Here is a shot of three pines in the backyard near the pond's edge.

You can clearly see how I loped off all the blue growth in the small Colorado Spruce shown in front, and how lanky the White Pine gets when not pruned. The bottom half is all full and nice, but the top is just spindly ... that will be all pruned off this spring.

These grow directly under the utility lines, so they must be kept in check. I think the tall one in the back is a Scotch Pine.

Thumbnail by WNYwillieB
Click the image for an enlarged view.

WNYwillieB
Buffalo, NY
(Zone 6a)

January 5, 2009
9:07 PM

Post #5970142

These two are on the other side of the pond area where those other three grow.

You can see how this white pine (far left) also got really lanky at the top when it didn't get pruned.

I think the other (nicely pruned) one is another Scotch Pine. All of these were planted as tiny, bare root saplings from the National Arbor Day Foundation. Started about 1 foot tall.

Thumbnail by WNYwillieB
Click the image for an enlarged view.

WNYwillieB
Buffalo, NY
(Zone 6a)

January 5, 2009
9:51 PM

Post #5970300

I have a shot here of all 5 of those pines as they sit around the pond. I like how the late afternoon sun looks so warm here.

Thumbnail by WNYwillieB
Click the image for an enlarged view.

mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 6, 2009
1:36 AM

Post #5971218

Willie-how old are the pines? Thanks for sharing the pictures. I enjoyed them.
mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 6, 2009
1:40 AM

Post #5971234

Willie-I just looked close up at the pictures. The pond picture is great. The pines make it feel so intimate. That's the feeling I want around my pond. Right now it still feels raw and open since it has only been there one season. I put in some magnolias and a few low clinging conifers that will hug my rocks but this year is the year I put in the conifers. Oh, I did put in that small (only affordable size) of the Japanese Umbrella Pine but I need to shade it from afternoon sun until my Magnolia grows up a little to cover it. I plan to put a pine behind it to break up the wind as well so it stays protected (and alive. . .)

Linda
WNYwillieB
Buffalo, NY
(Zone 6a)

January 6, 2009
2:14 AM

Post #5971367

I am glad you are enjoying them, Linda.

I think I planted those ten pines (2 each of 5 kinds) in 1993 or 1994. So, probably about 10 or 15 years old already. Geesh ... seems like yesterday. I have 9 in my yard and one in the neighbor's.

A friend had busted out his old patio and I took the concrete debris and piled it there in the backyard with layers of soil in between, then planted the pines on top of the rock pile. I want to plant it with alpine flowers. Already covered with woodruff, along with some columbine, iris and Mahonia. VERY good drainage there.

I wanted some height quickly, and that certainly did the trick. You can kind of make out the rocks in that last photo behind the fountain spray.

The pines were "free" when I subscribed to the National Arbor Day Foundation, and came bare root about 12 inches tall ... barely a stick and 4 or 5 small, inch-long branch sprouts. They grew about 5 foot the first 10 years, and about a foot a year after that. Though, I have been pruning them all along. This past year when I joined, I got ten "free" Norway pines, along with ten Colorado blue spruce. Still foot tall sticks.

The white pines in the front yard were nursery bought in those larger plastic buckets.

I got lucky with all this, as I wasn't really planning anything, just throwing things where they fit. Now, I am thankful I have a great foundation of evergreens to plant around. And, the pond just happened to fit in there perfectly.

Here's a summer / winter comparison ... I like the way evergreens keep things interesting in the winter.

Thumbnail by WNYwillieB
Click the image for an enlarged view.

mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 6, 2009
6:57 AM

Post #5972182

That was a cool way to show the difference!

I got some of those pines 15 years ago when I was working and the Human Resources department handed them out. They had about 30 left and were going to toss them and I took them all (that would be murder!) and gave them to my mother to plant at our cottage in Wisconsin. She planted about 10 and gave away the rest to other people she knew (I didn't have anywhere to put them). They are all really big and beautiful.
WNYwillieB
Buffalo, NY
(Zone 6a)

January 6, 2009
2:21 PM

Post #5972666

Those saplings are great, IF you are planning on waiting 10-20 years for your pines to come into size and shape.

I have read a ton of complaints against the National Arbor Day Foundation Corporation, and also about how "difficult" these bare root twigs are to start, but I have never had any trouble getting any of my sticks to grow, except for the hemlock I ordered last spring, which never took off. I will get more of them.

Of course, I pamper them all from the start by planting them in containers with high quality potting soil for their first couple of years.

This is a shot of what we see when we "relax on the patio" behind the garage. You can barely see the pond fountain getting cut off on the right.

Thumbnail by WNYwillieB
Click the image for an enlarged view.

mothermole
Deer Park, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 6, 2009
5:16 PM

Post #5973378

Very lush and beautiful. How long have you had the pond in place? How long have you gardened in that space for it to be so lush?

Linda
WNYwillieB
Buffalo, NY
(Zone 6a)

January 6, 2009
6:24 PM

Post #5973739

My father built the house on this property in the late 50's and now is in my care, so I have been tooling the yard since maybe mid-high school (late 70's).

The pond has "evolved" over the years, starting as a small fiberglass form purchased so the pet goose had someplace to swim when I was back in high school. Didn't do anything with it after the goose passed, and it sat unused for years, and still is.

It will become the "settling pond" above the stream at the start of the "eco-system." (Hidden on the back side of the Rock Pile Pine Forest. The pond form will spill out into the stream which will feed the main pond, then back up to the settling pond.)

I expanded the pond shape a bit when the neighbor removed his pool and gave me his liner. That promptly cracked under the sunlight, so I was glad I didn't have anything in there ... basically a glorified bird bath.

This past spring is the first year it has been a true pond, with fish and plants. It is a trial run to see if I like the again expanded size, shape, etc. Which I do! This spring, the permanent liner will go into place, and then I can start thinking about setting up the fiberglass form settling pond and stream.

The whole reason for this is that I live near the busiest intersection (maybe second busiest) in the Buffalo area, where there is a lot of traffic noise I want to reduce, so I figured a nice babbling brook would solve the problem. Don't be fooled by the photos, I am in the middle of a densely populated typical suburb.

What helps it look so lush is there is a "buffer zone" between my backyard and the businesses beyond there. Here is a shot of what we call "The Outback." The view from a few doors down, looking east, back toward my property. All those oak trees (and the tall grasses beyond) you see are directly behind my property.

So, if I get really low and snap my photos, it looks like I am in the middle of the boonies!!

Thumbnail by WNYwillieB
Click the image for an enlarged view.

ic_conifers
Iowa City, IA
(Zone 5a)

January 8, 2009
8:26 PM

Post #5982328

Sorry, I'm late to the party! I've been scheming on the hosta boards.

MM - you are spoiled, you have Rich's so closeby! I'm sure they can get you anything you want!

Okay, now I'm actually going to read the thread and then respond : )

Elizabeth
ic_conifers
Iowa City, IA
(Zone 5a)

January 8, 2009
8:37 PM

Post #5982371

There is a bonsai board, but bonsai is about miniaturization and harmony through small landscapes, and a whole lot of work. I read a chapter in a book about bonsai once and that was enough for me.

There are lots of different trees that grow quirky and get a windswept look over time, the key being over time. The umbrella pine that you mentioned in a different post will eventually spread out more, they do not stay pyramidal with age. Here is an old one that is heavily pruned: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1083/540087208_91c1e0664d.jpg?v=0

Books are a great start, to get a really old appearance and shape, other than by purchasing an older specimen, probably for a few thousand dollars (seems that good versions of anything Japanese are really expensive), the tree will need to be trained. Consider whether you want to look at the wires for years and then plunking the money on something already close to your ideal seems like a bargain : )

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