Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cedar Bonsai

Annually mowing a young Eastern Red Cedar stimulates growth and causes the tree to become thick with branches.  I’ve removed a couple of side branches from this small cedar to show the area cut by the mower and the resulting profusion of branches.

I think of the result as a cedar bonsai.  The mower doesn’t display the care and planning that a bonsai master would use in shaping the tree, but you get a sense of the bonsai when you see the tiny tree.

A normally growing tree would display just one top.  The effects of mowing have left this cedar looking like a thick shrub.  It should be no surprise that this growth phenomenon occurs.  Junipers related to the Eastern Red Cedar are commonly used as landscape plants because of their tolerance to pruning.

This cedar is old enough to be head high by now.  Somehow it was missed in my earlier cedar removal efforts and was trimmed by the mower on at least two separate occasions.

The mower cuts the cedar off at a height of about four inches.  This removes the upper growing points, but doesn’t bother the side branches.  The result is a cedar that gets continually wider with each cut.

The cedar can end up with some ridiculously thick growth.  If it had been left to grow naturally, this portion of the trunk would probably have been without branches.  Instead, it developed a tight mass of branches that was quite effective in shading out surrounding growth and claiming a spot on the prairie.  If I ever run out of things to do, I may go around the field and create some little Prairie Bonsais.

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