Hemlock group

This Mountain hemlock has been one of those intriguing trees that is so big at 65″ it is almost more of a conversation piece than a bonsai. And yet thinner trunked trees can be considerably taller and still ‘work’ as bonsai. I collected it about 1 1/2 years ago, and put it in pumice in a cedar box that was sort of cobbled together in an effort to have it appear to be on a slope of a hill.

Having dreamed about that hill for a while, at the March 2010 Seasonal we put it on a temporary plywood slab (having not yet made or found a nice final slab) and erected a muck dam and at least got the footings of this unstyled tree underway. The chopsticks drilled into the plywood was a spur of the moment idea. When I woke up that morning I had no idea how to keep that muck wall overhang from falling over.

It may be ready for styling this fall, although I’ve always felt it would be a very light styling. There is already so much of a natural and wild and windy feeling about this group that I won’t be doing much.

Here’s a bit of a photo essay:

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  1. Al Polito says:

    During breaks at my bonsai class I’ve been looking at this tree, but never “saw” the slope, until now. Now I really see it. It’s going to be a beautiful forest.

  2. Roger Case says:

    This is a truly a magnificent bonsai in training — and it is truly much more impressive than the picture shows, especially in light of the other conifers in the background in Michael’s backyard — I am hoping he will take the time to put up a white backdrop and rephotograph the clump after more moss is applied to the wonderful chop stick supported muck dam.

    And for those of you who wonder if Michael’s “seasonals’ are worth it in time and money — this is the type of material you get to work on, and you get to do it with an incredible and most knowlegeable bonsai expert!! its worth every $$ to expand your bonsai knowledge, and a wonderfully enjoyable time too!!

    Roger Case

  3. Graham says:

    Hi Michael,
    That is a great looking Hm groove/forest and that was also a very ingenious use of the chopsticks. Did that one come from up here? Interesting to see your use of pumice in the raining pot, perhaps that’s why the foliage seems a little on the light side?
    Hopefully we’ll see you up this way again this summer as the mountains will be calling us soon.
    Cheers Graham

  4. crataegus says:


    This is an Oregon tree.
    Pumice is the best way to get roots established on most mountain trees. I provides very good gas exchange, which along with keeping generally ‘drier’ roots, is essential in that first year in a box. Finer and more water-retentive mixes just don’t get that explosive root growth that we want. That was just 1.5 year’s root growth in that box.

    Hope to get up you way this year sometime…

  5. Aaron Bowden says:

    25 years, bonsai artist/ artist from Maine. One of the best yamadori states in the USA.
    The hemlocks looks great. Nice photo essay.
    What a nice specimen. As a bonsai potter i make my own pots to fit my specific tree needs. Do you have a pot for your grouping?
    Bonsai Regards,
    Downeast Maine coast

    • crataegus says:

      Hello fellow potter! Still considering container options. I’d prefer to let this one stand on it’s own eventually, with a hidden support underneath. So not a visible pot, at any rate. Pondering options—

  6. ashkaqua says:

    Luv the angle and the creative use of box. A wonderful find! Yamadori time in Michigan also….hope you find more gems like this one! Ashkaqua

  7. Galpino says:

    I love this. I particularly like that you’ve left the dead lower branches on. So often trees are over-cleaned. Fantastic atmosphere.

  1. […] Michael merging with an old Hemlock group. I wonder what he’s thinking. Before photo from 2010. […]

  2. […] Here’s an earlier post which shows how we made the mound of soil and the sloping left wall: http://crataegus.com/2010/03/22/hemlock-group/ […]

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