The Question of the Front…

Even the best front can become boring over time…a pot change, a change in inclination, or even a front change can enliven an old familiar tree and make it feel like we’ve suddenly got a new one.

This ‘Chojubai’ quince has several front possibilities. This year we decided to shake it up a bit. The photo essay tells the tale of our front shift, and what we did to make it work:


Base of the Chojubai quince from the original front. Note small but old branch coming off the lower nebari to the right. Nebari is narrow from this front.


New front possibility. Small old branch is now right in our face. Nebari is seen to best advantage, however.


New front with low branch removed. Best branch movement is from this front, and also nebari, although the tree needs a slight tip to the right for better top balance.


Removing Chojubai from pot using a root scythe.


Rootball prior to return to the pot. Old soil mass is 50% akadama, 50% pumice, very dense with roots (I add some lava for conifers.)


Potted at new front, with a slight change in inclination to the right.


Left side, which is close to the original front. Tree is tipped back (in this photo, to the left) for the new front, it was leaning too far forward.


Back. Also interesting curves, but with a low branch that comes right at us, and the tree moves away from us. Not a good choice for a front.


Right side. Interesting, like all sides of this tree, but like the original front the nebari is not very good.

With most any tree, these are the kinds of juggled decisions one must make for the best front: Best trunk and branch angles and views, the push and pull of receding and approaching movements (impossible to photograph…), the trees’ best features such as nebari…all of which combine in the overall gestalt to be (hopefully) both harmonious and interesting. A tall order! We’ll be looking at this one for a couple years with refreshed eyes, at any rate.


  1. I like the movement of the trunk from the new front – great tree!

  2. paul3636 says:

    I have one that is starting to bud but the soil needs to be changed. when is the best time to repot or should it be done after flowering.

  3. thomdec says:

    I like the movement / flow. A great start.

  4. Jeffrey Robson says:

    Always like it when things are shaken up a bit. Keeps the benches hopping.
    I like the new from.

  5. carol ebreo says:

    I like it tipped to the right.

  6. yenling29 says:

    I’m curious why add some lava/scoria for Conifers? Or what benefit do you think the lava provides? thanks!

    • crataegus says:

      With the right water pH, a bit of lava in the mix will release iron which the conifers like. Honestly I think one could do without lava for the most part, the hard, heavy stuff that dulls our tools, but there are a lot of pumices that are full of minerals and look like lava.

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