Ancient Mountain Hemlock-

Merely eye-candy at this point, this huge Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) has never been worked on…but it’s a marvel to look at.

The tree was collected by Anton Nijhuis. It’s the oldest hemlock I’ve ever seen in a pot. Thinking of styling it this fall, and will definitely do a post about it if we do…



  1. Wood says:

    OHHHH WOW!!!!

  2. Peter Gregg says:

    My favorite tree material. This ones looks awesome. looking forward to your post.

  3. Looking forward to seeing it styled!

  4. Lovely natural. Looking forward

  5. Rory says:

    Great tree collected by Anton. Do you know how long it took to move this hemlock from collection to a pot? I’m thinking you will move this to a rock slab or one of your famous homemade floating slabs eventually? The current pot does not do much for me. How big is the hemlock?

    • crataegus says:

      I believe this big pot has been it’s first home. Not really sure yet how we will handle the containerizing of it. We’ll be thinking…
      It’s a huge tree, takes about three people to lift it.

  6. Sage Smith says:

    Wow. That’s phenomenal. What a tree!!!!!!!!!!!! A truly gorgeous specimen. I do love the Tsuga genus. I wish I could find a nice canadensis or caroliniana yamadori here in NC😋

  7. Ray says:

    Powerful old mountain hemlock.

  8. Annette Clark says:

    Michael, I can’t wait to see it in its first styling. Are Hemlocks only worked on in the fall? Annette

    Sent from my iPad

    • crataegus says:

      Fall is the best time, winter can be fine too. Like most tree work, if you do it before the tree shuts down in the winter it has some time to restructure itself, and either create new buds or strengthen the ones that remain. Then it can come out in the spring stronger. Which, after working on a tree, is a good thing.

  9. Don Erickson says:

    Great tree! I know you will keep us updated on its progress.

  10. Christopher van Hooser says:

    That’s just beautiful ,what an impressive tree

  11. Mike Rogers says:

    Fabulous material Michael, can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  12. Sebastian O says:

    Absolutely amazing. I’d love to see more pictures of it!

  13. Graham says:

    Having seen it in person a number of times… is very large and magnificencet. Michael, Are you going to apply any preservative to the deadwood btwn now and the fall?

  14. Daniel Dolan says:


    Are there special qualities of the Mountain Hemlock that make it a better subject for Bonsai? I also have the same question as Annette above about the timing of styling work in the Fall. I do understand that this is a good time for work on most, if not all conifers, but hear how others [Walter Pall] only work on Spruces, for example, in and around Mid July?

    Thank you.



    • crataegus says:

      It is a far easier tree to work with than Eastern/Canadian Hemlock. In the Northwest at any rate. It does not seem to do well east of the Cascades. But the tree has few faults otherwise. One of them is that it does not bud back on old wood, so that makes it different from something like a yew or juniper. Otherwise, it’s ridiculously flexible and easy to create with. April is actually one of the worst times to begin bending and styling conifer bonsai, later in the summer or fall is better for many of them. The main issue is the possibility of cambium slippage. With Ezo spruce, we worked on them in fall and winter in Japan, and that’s what I do with the native spruce here too.

      • Gary says:

        What do you mean when you say, “It does not seem to do well east of the Cascades”?

      • crataegus says:

        Sure, let me try for more clarity… Outside of the Pacific Northwest it does not do well…the Cascade mountain range that borders this area to the east tends to be the last good growing area of the Mountain hemlocks. This is the area that Vancouver BC, Victoria BC, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Portland, and Eugene are in. It is a mild and moist climate, and east of there the species tends to falter. In southern Oregon the weather tends to be too dry as well, moving into California.

  15. Daniel Dolan says:

    Post Script:

    Clarification…..meant to say……”that make it a better subject for Bonsai than other species of Hemlock?”


  16. Bruce Winter says:

    Hold still my heart!

  17. Tony Welninski says:

    Must nice to be young, and be able to handle trees of that size. After 60 my trees are getting smaller. I still can’t wait to see the tree after shaping.

  18. Aaron says:

    Thanks for sharing this awesome tree! Oh to stumble across something like that in the mountains some day (and have it be collectable!).

    What wood hardener are you using for situations like this? I’ve been researching wood hardeners / wood preservatives trying to figure out the best approach to saving some amazing, natural deadwood on a big Japanese larch I’ve got.


    • crataegus says:

      There are several that one can buy, PC Wood Petrifier is one. A very simple one is to find some pine resin globules when you’re out hiking around, and crush them up and add rubbing alcohol. Dilute quite a bit. Then brush on.

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