Starting My Bonsai Journey: Cypress Hinoki Nursery Stock

With my past few trips to Japan for work, I've increasingly become interested in Japanese-style gardening and the art of bonsai.  I've been thinking about the large-scale conifers that I saw across Tokyo like this one and these pines in the outer gardens of the Imperial Palace and thinking about how I can bring something like *that* to our yard as we grow our conifer collection.

At the same time, my visit to the Morimae Bonsai Shop in Ginza along with subscribing to a few bonsai YouTube channels like Heron's Bonsai out of London and Mirai Bonsai's Beginner Series has sparked my interest in the art of bonsai.

This video that talks about nursery stock material selection from Mirai Bonsai pushed me to head to Home Depot to see if I could find something I could buy that was inexpensive to try my hand at shaping a small tree.

My bonsai journey starts with this Cypress Hinoki that you see in the photo above.  Bought at Home Depot for $9.98, this Cypress is going to allow me to try my hand at cleaning up the top of the tree, removing much of the soil and some of the roots and ultimately try to start wiring up the limbs.

I started to remove the top of the pot to see what I was dealing with and you can see in the photo below that just by trimming down some of the plastic pot rim, we can see more of the trunk.

I selected this tree because when looking at the various nursery stock on hand, I thought that the multiple limbs coming out from right at the current soil line would allow me to get that 'nice taper' near where the tree grips the ground.  My immediate thought was to leave these bottom few limbs ON the trunk to continue to thicken it up as it grows.

I also peeked at the trunk a little higher up on the tree to see if there was anything interesting going on in terms of movement and natural shaping.  I found this branching section you can see below that (I think) will give me something to shape as I trim the needles back.  The only concern I have here is that there might be a tiny bit of 'reverse taper' but I'm pretty sure it is something that a more advance bonsai owner might care more about that me with my first tree.

For progress, I'm sharing this photo below as I tried to move some of the soil on top away from the trunk to unearth the point at which the tree 'grips the ground'.

I am going to get out and buy some bonsai wire and hopefully the right tools to clip the roots and limbs.  You can see that on the right of the photo above, I was using a plastic fork and some IKEA scissors to start.  I had to take a break from this process because life got in the way, but I'm hoping that by the middle of May, I'll have this thing repotted and wired up.

I'll post more photos when I get to the rest of the process.  Those of you (like me) that are just starting out, you can learn quite a bit by spending 35 minutes or so on these four videos from Mirai Bonsai in their 'beginners' series.


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