Himalayan Cedar Raft Bonsai Styling

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cedar bonsai raft

I originally worked on this Himalayan Cedar or Cedrus deodara belonging to Faisal Waheedy in the Spring of 2010. The raft planting was purchased from the guy who had collected it in Wales and had planted it on its side. The raft consisted of 7 branches wired upwards so they would form 7 trunks in their own right. If the image above is studied carefully, one side of the rootball as well as the original trunk can still be seen on the soil surface.

The tree (or trees) was not in the greatest of health when I started work on it. The raft hadn't been repotted for many years and as a result was very rootbound, the soil itself was very poor and compacted, leading to difficulties watering it. The poor foliage colour also indicated chlorosis.

rrepotting cedar

Spring 2010: Faisal and I started repotting the raft. Great care has to be taken when repotting Cedrus species as they dislike root disturbance and can drop their needles as a result.

One objective I did have while repotting the raft was to turn it clockwise in its pot. The trunk of the original tree (now lying on its side in the soil) was long and straight and as a result, the positions of the upright trunks was awkward (see first image).

The image above shows the raft from what I believed would be a better front-view; by turning the tree clockwise the trunks would be bought closer together visually. (Also known as foreshortening)

cedar raft bonsai

After a couple of hours work, the raft was repositioned. Due to the front-to-back distance of the pot being relatively narrow, a lot of manipulation of the rootsystem (and brute force) was needed to position the raft as I required it.

With repotting completed, the raft was then left alone (without styling) while it recovered from repotting.

himalayan cedar bonsai

September 2011. 18 months later Faisal asked me to restyle the raft for him. As can be seen in the image above, the bonsai was in far better health. The repotting of Spring 2010 and a regular dose of ericaceous fertiliser had encouraged very strong and healthy growth in the tree and the raft had required hard pruning three times through the course of the growing season just to keep it in shape.

Cedrus needlescedrus needles

Before I could apply wire to the branches I had to remove all the old needles one by one, leaving just those on the youngest shoots.

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