Hemlock Revisit, and Possible New Front

This Mountain Hemlock was brought into the studio nine years ago, in 2012, to be styled. While doing the fall trim this week I wondered what it looked like back then, and found three images. I also found another possible front. 

01_Mt Hem Dec_09

Mountain Hemlock, Tsuga mertensiana, from the original front in 2012. 

03_Mt Hem Nov_12

Here’s the front we decided on in the Seasonal class in 2012. The tree seems to lack a key branch.

07_Mt Hem Nov_13

The back branch was moved to the right, to serve as the key branch. It’s a classic pocket branch, coming from the inside of a curve, so if you’re going by the book this is problematic. 


The Mountain Hemlock in fall of 2021, before the year’s trim. Styling is unchanged.


After the fall trim. This front chosen in 2012 is more interesting in person, with a trunk that snakes to the back and then forward again, but it looks like a simple ‘C’ in a photo. The pocket branch is getting long, and not integrated well anymore.


The dynamic front to back movement of this lower trunk. Wonderful find by collector Anton Nijhuis.


Here’s the tree’s right side, which opens up other front possibilities. The trunk movement is more interesting, I think, than the original front I helped design (I’m arguing with my former self here). 

DSC_0026 (1)

From this view we get a better base than the last photo, and it retains the interesting trunk movement. There’s a slight tip forward here. The lowest branch would need adjusting, along with a few others, but this front mitigates the strong pocket branch feeling. I’ll have to discuss this idea with the tree’s owner. Either way, we do enjoy this tree!

October 2021 Bulletin Board

  • Still one space left in the popular Seasonal-lite online course this weekend, Oct. 2-3. The Fall Seasonal-lite covers design and fall techniques among many other topics, over two weekend mornings, with a 30 minute private with me. Earlier this year there were participants from Belgium, Spain, and Australia. Learn more about the course here.

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  1. Matt says:

    Challenging material, and difficult to appreciate in two dimensions!

    In the last view (right side as front) the placement of the first branch seems to obscure the most interesting curve in the trunk and draw attention to the straight portion above it. Maybe the front branch above it should drop as well

  2. Doug says:

    I also am arguing with your former self. I prefer the possible new front on the tree’s right side, by a landslide. The cloud pattern of branches matching the corresponding trunk angles viewed from the right side is fantastic. The ‘key branch’ on the current front looks awkward and manipulated from my perspective. The current front does have a wider root base, but that is only one of many features.

    Great post, thanks Michael.

    – Doug

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