Studying City Trees

Increasingly, many of us live in cities. And, with the exception of some downtown areas, most cities have trees to look at. Of these, deciduous trees stand out in contrast to their conifer counterparts.

Why is this? I think it’s a maturation thing. Conifers begin to outgrow their youthful feeling only after reaching 200+ years, and yet many city areas are younger than this, or recreate themselves well within that timeline. Most city conifers are still in swaddling clothes. Deciduous trees, on the other hand, often begin to fall apart in less than 100 years, making them interesting subjects for city bonsai study.

These huge old deciduous trees are part of Portland’s Heritage Trees, a database of trees with unique size, age, historical or horticultural significance.

If you frequently wander local streets staring at trees you might be thought of as a nutter, but then your bonsai might improve, too. Conifer inspiration is often better in the wilds. On the other hand deciduous may be at peak performance right where you live.

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  1. David Wheeler says:

    Hi Michael….David Wheeler (from PJG volunteers). I have a question you have already addressed in your books or emails. However, I have a short memory. What I am curious about is growing pines from seed. Mostly Black Pine, Shore Pine, Red Pine, Ponderosa Pine …… Can Pines be grown from cuttings or do they need to be grown from seed (for ‘authenticity’) And if seed – what is the most difficult part of growing them? AND do you know of anyone growing 1-2 year old pines? thank you for your time and hope to see you at ‘the Garden’…….

    • crataegus says:

      Hi David, locally for you I’d suggest contacting John Eads of Left Coast Bonsai. He’s doing a lot of what you just describe.
      Pines are usually grown from seed, and there’s a technique of seedling cuttings which are done very early in the life of the seedling. Some believe greater root flare comes of that. Dampening off can be an issue, a fungal disease that attacks the young seedling before it hardens off.

  2. Alan Jabs says:

    RE studying street trees. I have done this for quite a while and in fact use them when doing Bonsai promotions or demo’s here in South Australia as they are a great source of imagery and understanding as they can then be conceptualised easier by those I am speaking with. I have also found that I take many images on my travels of just trees or the bases, roots or outline.These too form basis of discussion points as well as help me along my Bonsai path..

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