Windy Mountain Hemlock Styling

This Mountain Hemlock, Tsuga mertensiana, came from Vancouver Island, BC, courtesy of collector Anton Nijhuis. 

My impression of wind-influenced trees is that the foliage pads are slender when seen from the side. Also, there is usually some air between the branches. We used that idea in our styling of this tree.

The raw Mountain Hemlock, before styling. The snake-like coiling at the base and the several heads that arise recalls a hydra, waving around. When I first saw it I loved the energy at base, and the sinuous feeling of the rising trunks felt windy. The far right branch was removed, otherwise nearly all other branches were used.

The box, incidentally, was leftover Shou Sugi Ban (charred cedar siding) from my tiny home build—now coming in very handy for bonsai boxes.

Closeup of the energetic base 

Our finished styling. This is a big tree, about 5′ / 1.5m across. One thing you may notice is we put a different canopy angle on the right side of the higher canopy. It’s a steeper angle there. That steeper angle might indicate an oncoming wind, and further help suggest flow to the left. The shallower angles to the left of the canopy might support the feeling of less resistance to the wind, and directionality. We enjoyed this one, hope you do too.


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  1. Mark says:

    The nebari is exceptional! Not!

  2. Stephen Liesen says:

    Love the old tortured-by the elements trunk. The foliage has been styled perfectly for the this tree. The wind-blown look is subtle enough that the implied strain of the wind does not distract from this really nice tree. I know your not supposed to ask, so I will. How old do you estimate this tree to be?

    • crataegus says:

      Unexpectedly, we have a fair answer to this…we took a modest dead branch off the back and cut it cleanly, polished it, and read the rings. There were 104 rings in about 1″. I can get the exact measurements, but I think that would indicate a tree well over 300. Anton might have a better idea.

  3. Skipp Serrano says:

    Nice work on a fantastic tree..
    What do you estimate the age to be?

  4. RAY NORRIS says:

    Beautiful tree Michael. I think I saw this tree in it’s raw state at Antons

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. kiwijaz says:

    Love the styling of this tree. Would it be possible to see a close up of the wiring of an individual branch?

  6. Gordon Pybus says:

    I assume, now, end of OCT is a good time to apply wire to a tree like this. If so, would you hold off repotting in Spring until the following year, or would 2021 be OK to repot. If you have time, I would also like to see a close up of wiring. I have a Mountain Hemlock, also from Anton, not as nice as yours but I want to begin work on it. It is still in his pot and unwired. I will need to contemplate a suitable style, but the bark is amazing, and very curvy, but only one trunk. Thank you very much for showing this.

    • crataegus says:

      Gordon, here in Western Oregon I can usually get away with a styling and a repotting in one year, for some trees. This one is strong, and is a hemlock, and it wasn’t a very severe styling, so we may well repot in the spring. It’s responded well. So the answer is that it all…depends. One of my favorite David DeGroot phrases!
      But, for most recently styled trees, especially if in a shorter growing season, like 3 months, generally let the tree go through a growing season between styling and repotting.

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