‘Stampede’ Ponderosa Pine Styling…

There’s a story about the name ‘Stampede’. The Backcountry Bonsai guys enjoy naming the trees they collect, and having received several with memorable names I asked if this Ponderosa Pine had one. I only got an abbreviated version by text and maybe not the full story, but I gather it involved some galloping extraterrestrials or horned animals that were shooed away by Steve Varland, saving the pine’s life. Dust cloud from retreating herd of mysterious animals…mountain peaks…a man bent over, worrying over an old tree…you can sort of see the ageless moment there. And the name Stampede was born.

Here’s a photo essay of last Saturday’s monkeying around in the first styling. Thanks to Andrew Robson, Alan Thompson, and Lincoln Proud for the extra hands and sharing some sushi-


Prepping the Ponderosa Pine for wiring


Alan asking a question of which I have no clear memory—‘Shall we move it closer to the extraterrestrial or further away?’—perhaps…


Our inclination idea for a cascade—the next three photos show the sequenced removal of unnecessary branches





Continuation of tree prep with needle removal


The wiring begins


The wiring continues


The trunk again


And fully wired but before setting the branches—when working as a team this is often the easier method; when working alone I set as I go, which can improve the decision of what gets pruned and what gets wired—


Andrew-kun and Alan-san with an ornery guy wire


Trunk closeups



And this was where we left it for the day. I would like the lowest branch raised and compacted more next time, it is too low as it is. But first, next spring, 2019, the tree will be potted. The tree is evidently an elk-trampled tree—oops, gave that away—and has borer / elk shari to prove its past battles with both vertebrates and invertebrates, although this was only its second battle (including collecting) with the two-legged vertebrate kind and it’s now in the greenhouse being coaxed back from ill-humor.

Everyone at the National Show in Rochester, NY, hello, sorry to miss you all but my apprentice Andrew was airlifted over there by extraterrestrials and I’m home watering. Not sure who got the better end of that one. Let me know if he’s ok. Enjoy the show~


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  1. really looking forward to seeing this one in a proper vessel !!!

  2. gblack1@wi.rr.com says:

    I have a PP collected by Andy Smith. Not as dramatic as yours, but doing fine. What are your thoughts as to finished container for Spring 2019? My tree is also in a tipped box at this time. Thank you.

  3. Frank says:

    Amazing natural yamadori. Tipsy Turvey styling adventure! Love the stabilizing solution! Something makes me think you have a large uniquely shaped volcanic rock under a bench somewhere. Will be very interested to see the final planting solution!

  4. Don G Erickson says:

    Great tree, it can only become better through your vision!

  5. Steve says:

    Beautiful job Mr Michael!! You never disappoint.

  6. Jeffrey Robson says:

    Your apprentice is doing well and seeing lots of friends in Rochester. Getting regular updates. I am living vicariously through both of my sons. Each have chosen a paths in life I would have loved to travel.

  7. montymoo12 says:

    I wish we could have trees like that to work on in Australia but we have a ball with our figs and native species.

  8. montymoo12 says:

    Amazing tree mate I’m from Australia I wish we had trees like this to work with keep up the great work

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