Very Old Mountain Hemlock Styling-

This antique tree was collected some years ago by Anton Nijhuis of Vancouver Island, Canada, and was recently brought to Oregon, USA. We reworked it here last week. The dynamism of the low descending branch and its bumping movement definitely made for a fun styling.

Curiously, the entire tree is a rooted branch. It has somewhat larger needles than most Mountain Hemlocks have, and Anton said that it seemed like a strain of hemlock localized to that one mountain, and he’d not seen it elsewhere.

Here’s a photo essay of our restyling. Enjoy-


This was the Mountain Hemlock before we did anything.


…after shortening a few jins and tipping the tree to our new inclination, and finding our front. Like so many front choices, it was a balancing of goods and bads…


Bobby refining a jin.


…wiring from the bottom up. We did not use anything more than wrapped wire and a few guy wires to restyle this tree.


Matt Reel was in the studio that day…shown here observing the photographer…


Bobby wiring the top.


A few finishing touches. At this point we were a bit goofy. Long day.


From this direction, from the left, you can see where the lower descending branch comes from, and how close it is to the trunk. The smaller branches of this tree had very mature bark, so it’s quite old.


Detail shot of the top.


Close in shot of the cascading branch.


And our final tree. 35″ (89 cm) from top to lowest branch. Will be repotting this tree in the spring, either into a box or a pot. A deep square would be nice, eventually, or even a shallow rectangle. Hopefully something less brilliantly orange than this one…



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  1. Ron Scarborough says:

    Beautiful but still confused on the tipping of the pot. Does this mean that this is the desired position when you repot it? So the trunk will be upright with the descending branch cascading over the side? Novice, here.

    • crataegus says:

      Yes, you have it. This is a temporary solution, and when the tree is repotted in the spring it will be at this angle. The bottom branch will go below the lip of the pot, yes. I’m considering a mound of some sort on a platform, however, but that’s fringe. You have the right idea-

  2. Wood says:

    Sir Hawthorne, splendid !!

  3. bonsai eejit says:

    Reblogged this on Bonsai Eejit.

  4. dangerousbry says:

    What a fantastic blog post!!!
    Styling is absolutely spot on. I didn’t see the tilt coming. Great work guys!

  5. Peter Chapman says:

    Beautiful restyling, Michael! What a magnificent tree!

  6. David Lau says:

    Does take off the lowest branch show more coherent?
    David Lau

  7. crust says:

    I see this on a rock that favors placement–super nice.

  8. endsurg says:

    Great job, Mike

  9. Ray says:

    Very nice!! Beautiful styling

  10. Ron Scarborough says:

    I agree, taking off that lower branch would be an absolute crime. This tree is gorgeous. Thanks for your reply.

  11. JDenny says:

    First class, Michael. Love the ancient bark and feel of the tree.

  12. backcountrydan says:

    Absolutely stunning!! Keep up the great work! 🙂

  13. Rory says:

    I’ll bet this hemlock is even better in person. Little tough to see the depth of some of the branches but I can tell it will only improve in time while the branches and pads develop. Very impressive work!

    • crataegus says:

      It’s a truism that most bonsai are better in person…it is about 4 1/2 feet deep in its back to front branching, so there’s a palpable feeling of depth in a forest with it.

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