Yellow Cedar, Second Draft-

The second wiring of a tree is like the second draft in writing. It’s when, as author Neil Gaiman puts it, “You get to show you knew what you were doing all along.”

When I was in graduate school I looked forward to doing my laundry. It was the only time of the week when I felt I knew what I was doing. Everything else needed a first draft, but not the laundry.

Last week we had this Yellow Cedar up on the working table, for its second draft. Growth has filled in the pads, and that gave us more to work with.

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Where we started two years ago, 2020.


First styling done, fall of 2020. Like most stylings, it’s a skeleton, a sketch of how you see the design, at that point in time, with what you have to work with. A first styling is a first draft. (For the full story of this tree, see Snow Falling on a Yellow Cedar.)


Here’s the tree two years later, in July 2022, partly wired, but branches not yet set.


A second draft, but not fully realized (I fail Gaiman here). The right side branch hasn’t grown enough to tuck in and integrate the deadwood. We did set the branches and detail the pads, but highest point of the canopy isn’t yet where it should be, which is further to the right, to create drama. At the moment, it feels too stable and static for the communication of the deadwood—which is epic and exciting and full of scary.

Our first styling imagined a heavy snowfall, and this I interpreted in bonsai language as a wide canopy, wider than we usually have. We see this in the flattened branches in the Krummholz of mountain peaks.

The pad that juts to the left is intentional, breaking up the clean drop from the canopy. Otherwise we’re into the land of Christmas trees. I talk about these simple forms in last week’s post, Hinoki Cypress Pruning and Maintenance. The maintenance of the Pacific Northwest native Yellow Cedar, we’ve found, is identical to Hinoki Cypress.

Bulletin Board July 2022

  • Interested in accents? Learn the accent plant styles (not just mine), how to design them, the many ways of creating them (including the “ikebana” method), and maintenance and display in our 3-hour online course, Saturday, July 16. And, it’s spy-themed: Wild For Accents This is the most popular Seasonal-lite we offer, sign up early! Send an email to

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1 Comment

  1. Crust says:

    Amazing managment of health. Your philosophy guiding the styling of this Yellow so refreshes me. Some artists claim to see a shape within the stone and work to reveal it but instead you are seeing the shaping hands of a special world and its afflictions of time and guide it there.

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