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Front Desk- Open To Public => General Discussion => Topic started by: cypher on December 07, 2011, 01:27:13 am

Title: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 07, 2011, 01:27:13 am
Hello, new member here  ;D. My question was, ive noticed tons of pics on Japanese gardens and notice lots of tall (skinny) narrow trunk trees. What kind of trees are these and is there a certain way of training them to keep them thin at the trunk? Thanks for any advice.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: don on December 07, 2011, 06:40:25 am
Welcome to the forum, Cypher!  You could be referring to a couple of things - can you provide a picture?
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 07, 2011, 11:54:31 pm
These are just examples i got online. I know alot of these are Japanese Maples but im pretty sure there are other kinds of trees aswell. How are these trees so tall and thin? Are these slow growing trees, or is there someway to train them to  keep them thin? I would like to mimic some of these gardens in my backyard. Hence the question about the trees. Thanks for any advice. Plus i live in Socal zone 8. Do you have any advice on what trees i can use that will have that look?

Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: edzard on December 08, 2011, 01:16:33 am
Cypher, welcome..
The technique is a duplication of forest growing trees that are elongated due to a limitation of light in competition. Most are second story or middle canopy trees of various species.
Essentially a tree is grown as a multi-trunk specimen, and if the original is a single stem tree then the trunk is cut off so that multiple trunks emerge that when combined amount to the girth of the old single trunk. These multiple trunks are then reduced to 2, 3 or 5 trunks.
Next the sun deprived or shade loving specimen is studied for the pattern that emerges when there is high light competition and high root density. The lower branches are removed in patterns that are probably more readily seen in ikebana. Meaning that if I wished to see a minimalistic pattern that has aesthetic value then it is easier to study ikebana if one does not have a dense forest of examples close at hand.
for the most part, as the examples you have shown are maples, the pruning techniques would be for maples. However, these could as easily be (in my area) Alders, Birch, Hawthorn, Oak, (etc) that are pruned in a maple manner (technique) wherein the emphasis is on the canopy rather than the lower and mid-branching.

Mathematically if this is easier, there is a single large trunk, replaced by many small trunks. The density of leaves is the same, and reduced by removing the inner branches in a seemingly random pattern..

and when the neighbouring trees canopies encroach on the other canopies the trunk numbers are further reduced, so that the tree is thinned (weakened), the root masses also encroach on each other creating a limited space for roots. With a finite root system the tree needs to be maintained with a lesser number of trunks and related leaves over a wider area of canopy.

simply put: less roots = less possible leaves      -- until a balance is created between the competitors that fulfills your aesthetic.
This gives a sense of deep forest and dappled sunlight, that also reduces the amount of maintenance work to be done.

I am not overly familiar with plants in SoCal and would suggest others closer to the area answer your species question.
            (how do you come to appreciate this aesthetic? Or why do you wish it? need it? (please explain) It is quite advanced in garden aesthetic timelines (hm, wrong words perhaps, however nothing better comes to mind)   edzard
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: etehiver on December 08, 2011, 01:54:20 am
Good question and great photos!  Your use of the photos really illustrated your question well. I've often wondered the same thing.

Excellent explanation!  Thanks!

- Mark
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 08, 2011, 02:13:34 am
Well, the reason why this kind of garden (scenery) attracts me is because, just looking at the pictures, it gives me a sence of peace and tranquility. That being the main reason why i would like to mimic the technique or cause of lots of trees with narrow elongated trunks and soft on the amount of canopy leaves. It gives a good feeling of lightness. Shade brings a sence of relaxation to me.  I also like the feeling of Japanese courtyard gardens. I would like to come up with a design for my garden that has the influence of both these types of garden. I live in a valley in So Cal and in the summer days, the first thing i look for is realxation from shade in a garden. Its very hard to grow Japanese Maples in my valley so that would almost be out the question unless i have a good windbreak or taller trees to give shade to the maples.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: jake on December 08, 2011, 03:38:15 am
I was talking to a nurseryman in Japan about this recently. As Edzard pointed out, the trees are grown in/to represent shady woodland.

Sometimes they are grown from a small size in situ, but in new gardens are usually planted 'ready grown' from the nursery. They would either have grown naturally in the mountains (nurseries secure 'harvesting rights' to plots of land, and pick out trees which they then bring to the nursery for a while to recover from the transplant, before selling.) These trees are the most sought after, because of the natural shapes. Alternatively they may be produced as thin-trunked trees by the nursery, whether single or multi-trunked, by trying to emulate the mountain conditions (shade, lack of nutrients etc). A shortcut version for the multi trunkers, rather than cutting them back to reshoot, is to plant several cuttings or seedlings together to give the impression of an old coppice. This sounds like cheating to me, but is quite common - it has a different look to it, with the trunks coming out from the ground rather than a stump or shared base.

Interestingly, I was told that the nurseries in Kanto area (around Tokyo) don't grow many trees in this natural style, as their soil is too rich - they bring them in from further south where the soil is worse (where i spend my time in rural Osaka the soil is very bad - perfect!)

If you're trying to grow your own in a sunny area, you really need some shade to get started, but you can help by growing them close together and removing the lower branches as the trees grow, which  will encourage tall, thin growth.

Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 08, 2011, 03:46:51 am
Right. I thought of planting several at close range and at about 7 to 8 feet tal to start off. removing the lower branches and thining the leaves to give it that affect. I seen a local small backyard nursery that has some tall narrow trunk trees. She is very reasonable in price but low on selection. She has lots of Camphor, Crape Myrtle and some white birch's. I was looking at some oaks but couldnt figure out which ones have the small leaves. I think the small leaf trees look best. Any other ideas?
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: Jando on December 08, 2011, 07:50:33 am
Welcome Cypher, as you can see our forum has many members with wonderful knowledge for you.

May I suggest to take some time to form a plan for your garden. 

Also when planting new plants, it takes some time for them to recover from the shock of transplanting.  I would caution you to give them some time to become established before pruning and stripping leaves and be sure you know what time of year the species you have planted best responds to pruning.  The nurseryman you purchase your plants from should have that knowledge and be more than happy to share it with you. You could also ask them to show you how to prune your new plant properly if you do not know this information. 

I think we often forget to use the professionals knowledge we give our business too.  They want us to be successful and become repeat customers.  They also know what plants are successfully grown in your area.  So I recommend you visit several of your local nurserymen and pick their brains, they should know which species would respond well to the pruning required to create the look you want in your garden.  And you may find a great friend and ally for helping you create your garden.

Good luck,

Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 08, 2011, 03:25:20 pm
I hope this helps to get a better idea with what i have to work with. I wish i could photoshop to place trees and plants where i vision them. I will draw something as an arial view and ill post it to give you an idea of what i have in mind. If you have any ideas, please feel free to throw them out. Im very open minded. Of course i want to have a water feature.
1)The first picture shows where you come into the back yard from the rear of the house. The wall to the right is my garage. The wall to my left is my house. The brick pathway would be taken out and replaced by a center walkway made out of stone. I would also like to put a bamboo wall at the end of the house wall going into the pathway but not fully accross, seperating the back of the yard to the front. Almost like a 7 foot long partition. I would like to put several tall with narrow trunk trees along these two walls to create a thin nice canopy. This where i would like it to be like a courtyard garden. I was standing on the east side of the yard facing west. As you all can see, i took these pics at around 1:00 PM pacific time and my backyard has a goo amount of shade.

2)The second set shows the very back of my yard where it "T's". To the right side of this is a cemented area where it would be closed out by a wood or possibly a bamboo wall. That where we keep our trash dumpsters. The orange tree will be knocked down and removed. I wish to replace it with a Black pine on a mound as my focal point. To the left of this picture is my shed. I would like to put either a pond with a waterfall on either side of this picture. Of course in a corner.The path will split here. One way going to the shed and one way going to the enclosed cemented area, with stepping stones going around tha back way of the black pine. I would also like some background tress along the rear wall. Plus a wall extension or another tall wall to block that eyesore i got behind my house,  I was standing facing NW in these pics.

3) When you get to the T and turn left, you get to the very back of my house where another orange tree is present  :-[. These things are so messy. That one is also coming down. The path will continue on to the shed and around the side of my house. I would like to place a Sakura right in front of the shed on the side of the small window with maybe a small lantern and small shrubs. Trying to give the courtyard feeling to that area aswell. Plus, about two tall skinny trees by the rear wall to my house with some lower shrubs.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: tdg on December 08, 2011, 09:36:26 pm
Several of your internet photos are taken at Portland Japanese Garden.  The tree trunks you admire are considered faults by our garden experts.  This has happened because the garden is built on land "leased from the City of Portland Parks which used to be the Portland Zoo. The grounds had a large number of 100 foot plus evergreen trees on the site and the "lease" requires these trees to remain.  They cause too much shade and restrict normal growth.  Because of  climate differences between Portland and Southern California, I think it will be a very big challenge to duplicate the look in your zone.  Please make the trip to Portland and see the garden yourself.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: jake on December 09, 2011, 07:26:53 am
Cypher- fear not. Although Terry is quite right in that you'll probably struggle with the same plants as at Portland, I reckon you can achieve a similar effect with plants more suited to your area, if you pick the right plants! Basing my opinion on Mediterranean plants, I have seen garrigue ladnscapes with evergreens such as Quecus ilex, phillyrea and viburnums, which get pretty close to what I believe you are after. Camphor and crepe myrtle would give a very Japanese woodland look.
Attached is an image of Quercus ilex (holm oak) in Provence, France. I suspect they were once part of a much bigger grove, and the shapes suggest a shady environment.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: jake on December 09, 2011, 07:27:59 am
and here is a close up
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: jake on December 09, 2011, 07:34:37 am
and if you're not bothered by non-Japanese plants, there's always olives...
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: don on December 09, 2011, 01:40:19 pm
Seeing the kind of sun exposure you have, and if your air circulation is good, i would go with crepe myrtle - esp the varieties with Indian names. I like the look of olives, but their canopy is a little thin for the effect you want i think.  And they can make messes too!

In your open area, ginko might make an interesting grove but they grow slowly.  Are you familiar with Texas persimmon?  Diospiros texana is drought and heat tough and has interesing white trunks with exfoliating bark.  Females are messy for about a month.  JGO has a section on alternative plants for JG that has not been developed, but may have some plants for your area: http://www.japanesegardening.org/reference/jgplants.html
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: don on December 09, 2011, 06:18:44 pm
I cant resist posting this food forest photo!  Bonenkai season has gotten the best of me.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: JamesT on December 10, 2011, 03:41:22 pm

Terry is right about Oregon climate producing unique form.  We find that the nursery plants grown there have annual extensions of 2-4 times what occur in our region.  This produces comparatively taller trees with slender caliper.  The forest-like climate at the Portland garden increases this effect.  If you want a similar appearance, you could use a plant commonly seen as an understory shrub, such as Pieris, and prune to a tree-form.  Reproducing a Northwest climate would also help; provide protection from drying winds, shade and lots of water, all the time.  Starter material might be best found where inattention to a seed bed allowed many plants to reach for the available light, say in a neglected spot in a nursery (One time I  purchased an entire group grown that way from someone who felt they were "unsellable").  I wonder if there is a Stewartia that can tolerate your dry heat.  It seems they might be a species to investigate.  Don, what do you think?

Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: don on December 10, 2011, 04:04:40 pm
James, the only Stewartia i have grown was a species that didnt get any bigger than a Camellia, so i could not say.  There is someone i can ask.

I always look for the neglected corner of a nursery.  Many times there is a bonsai there waiting to be rescued from the trashcan.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 11, 2011, 04:16:29 pm
Here are a couple of trees i had in mind
1)black gum - nyssa sylvatica
2)magnolia stellata
3)chinese fringe- chionanthus retusus
4)Yoshino cherry
5)japanese apricot - prunus mume
6)trident maple - acer buergerianum
7)dogwood - cornus variety
8)stewartia pseudocamellia
9)ginkgo- but once they grow, they get really huge, plus the branches go upright.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 12, 2011, 08:51:23 pm
How about some podocarpus as a background?
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: don on December 13, 2011, 01:59:16 pm
Podocarpus make a good bluegreen background.  What about cedar elms?  They create nice groves when grown close, and they are drought tolerant.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 13, 2011, 09:38:40 pm
So here is the layout i drew. Hopefully it helps. Please make suggestions or comments on how to improve the idea. Thanks

Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 13, 2011, 09:40:35 pm
Sorry i meant the podocarpus tree. If you look at the drawing i did, i placed it  way at the end of the year, close to the wall.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: Jando on December 14, 2011, 07:36:45 am
Looks good, I like how you changed the material of the paths to bring attention to the views.  If I am coming from the patio it works quite well.  But coming from the left on the path I hope you make the tree where the paths intersect special in some way. 

When purchasing your plants remember scale,  you want to make the plants furthest away appear smaller, this gives a sense of more space and depth.


Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 14, 2011, 01:36:12 pm
Im planning on planting a black pine or white pine where the 2 paths meet coming up from the patio and plant a yoshino cherry  infront of the shed.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 15, 2011, 04:13:27 am
I would like to plant some decidous trees on both sides of the walkway with similar habits as the japanese maples. One of the reason why i chose the black tupelo tree. I might plant a crepe myrtle too
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: edzard on December 15, 2011, 06:14:25 pm
... Cypher     ;D  , I'm reminded of the logic question: if there are 53 survivors, on which side of the border did they die?
QuotePlease make suggestions or comments on how to improve the idea. Thanks

I'm not sure this is a suggestion or a comment, more rather a question stemming from an observation that remotely may improve the design: what is the difference betwixt the old garden to the new proposed garden?

--- ? and, where are the main views (from windows)?
-------   what is the objective? (why?)

I would need to understand what the differences are before I would comment or suggest an improvement. I would like to understand the design + site from your perspective, and then examine my perceptions to see if they are still valid.       thks,         edzard
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 15, 2011, 08:57:57 pm
1)all my main views are from the patio where the stone path is. There are 2 big sliding windows by the patio that face the garden. I also have another high window facing the shed where i will be planting a sakura.
2) the main objective would be as im walking through my path from the patio, have some nice deciduos trees (Japanese maple like) so that i can see them from my family room and dining room. There would be a bamboo partition at the end of the house seperating the back of the yard to the front. That would be so that everytime i walk into my back yard, it makes me have the sence that i will be in a more secluded garden away from the patio area when i make the left turn after the partition.. Having the black pine in the center will represent the strenght of my garden. At the top of my garden/next to the pond, i will have a bench where i can go sit and relax while listening to the water. The sakura tree will planted infront of the shed so that i can view it as im in the TV room. To me this garden will be more of a getaway.
There is nothing to this garden now. The only changes that i will be making is the removal of the orange trees that are pictured in page 1. As a matter of fact, i posted some detailed pics of my yard in page 1. The garden now is just plain dirt.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: edzard on December 15, 2011, 10:44:34 pm
(I have carefully studied the photos on page 1, thank you)
- then:
... the path on page 1 stays where it is (?),
and the only change is that the orange tree changes to a pine tree?
(and you are removing the orange tree(s) because they are messy and no other reason?)

what shape will the pine tree be? do you have an image/example?
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 16, 2011, 01:15:09 am
The brick path will be removed and the new path will be centered between the house wall and garage wall.
The orange trees will be removed because 1)messy 2)not planted in the best place. I have trimmed both these trees and they litter daily.
I found some images online of the kind of look im going after for the pine. 1st picture is best.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: edzard on December 17, 2011, 08:43:30 am
two questions:
do you have an example of a Japanese courtyard garden that you would like to emulate and serves as an guideline for your design?

are there going to be stones installed anywhere? (not including the pond)                    thanks     edzard
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 17, 2011, 01:42:24 pm
Stones will be included in the paths. These are some of the pictures i found online to refrence from. More like courtyard style.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: edzard on December 19, 2011, 12:35:04 pm
I was inquiring about garden stones, rather than pathway stones. Goes to show I guess, how easily some things are misunderstood.
And,..  I think I begin to understand where you are coming from, so to speak:

I missed the explanation that in your back yard you wished to recreate the idea of a street-scene, the major symmetrical central axis all-inclusive neutral walk to the temple or front entrance gate of a home or restaurant.  And this impersonal 'walk quickly corridor' is the main view from the inside of your house, basically, where you are is on the street, looking into someone's garden.

-- and that the 'court-yard' garden you think of, is not in the back yard, rather, is a front entrance garden of the Japanese home or temple, essentially a public place that gives instruction for a visitors method of approach. (and 'courtyard' means different things in different cultures)

Quite intriguing. I recollect a garden in Europe that was a recreation of a small village crossroads: 3 corners of recreated houses with over-hangs, complete with the central 'village gathering place for community drinking water' fountain with basin and a smithy off down a dead-end side lane. Very charming. Especially as one of the houses had a small cafe like setting on the curb pavement.

For improvements then I would suggest that a gate be added,.. though, on which side the water spigot should be is something you need to address.

(personally, and you have not asked for anyones personal thoughts, so I apologize in advance for offering mine:
- as you are insistent on that design, I would flip the garden design so that the entrance way pathway, would be coming from your back alleyway through a gate that would hide the blue tarp,.. this way you could enjoy the water feature from both sides....    but, my suggestion is not valid because it reverses the street scene you are trying to create)

1) I would improve the garden idea by suggesting that you avoid using the stone pathway setting that is in photo # 4 as it is a utility path that is rather dangerous and not very well crafted. (please note it is behind the chozubachi, not the 'best path' that would be in front of the chozubachi.)

2) that you avoid using the tsukubai arrangement in # 6 because it is missing some critical pieces, such as the 'front crouching' stone (etc), and, the Sen Ju Ji lantern should be avoided in such a setting.

3) in the last image, # 8, the first pavement/step stones are poorly set. I'm sure you would improve on that setting with the budget you have dedicated to replace pathway infrastructures, though I see the feelings created by the rest of the courtyard garden that would apply to your ideas.

4) personally, some of the replacement trees you have selected are messier than orange trees because they don't have a harder outer shell that obviates the opportunity for organic Bocce playing, but again, I don't have an orange tree and some people around here spend a lot of money on custom greenhouses to grow orange trees... we all have different values and that is a good thing, as this keeps the world interesting.         happy holidays..  best wishes to you and yours.. 
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 20, 2011, 02:19:44 am
can you suggest any deciduous trees with nice color that i can use?
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: edzard on December 21, 2011, 08:39:19 pm
Cypher,.. as I mentioned previously I am not the best person to advise you on species selection for SoCal. The best way that I can assist you would be if you asked me what to do with the species suggested or you have selected to refine where and how to achieve your objectives on the concept plan you have outlined.

the only advice I could offer is with observation that orange trees grow well for you, therefore I would suggest research into what the origin is of the orange tree...
and base a palette from and around, what other species grow in areas where an orange tree is an Indicator Species..
Then you could ask me what and how to plan a garden around those species and arrange them in their native competition and patterns of growth for your optimal success and reduced maintenance.

(and it is not so much what species you use, as how they are planted with what forms of plantings that will sequester humidity.. are they in 'what' competition or proximity that makes a difference for growth as well as the 'feeling' you wish to have from your garden. For example maple trees do better with a massive stone by their roots for heating or cooling, moisture etc. You indicated that the only other stone in the garden, besides the pond is in the pathway, and that decision, essentially will not make maples a good candidate for your growing area.)

for example, and you have not asked, so I ask for your tolerance: the Yoshino cherry would not be a useable species as they primarily grow from one single trunk or, put another way, copses of cherries are not common to my experience.
My observation, again unasked for, is that to achieve the results shown in your precursors, you will need to plant species that can be kept with smaller trunks in relation to each other, rather than to have the pair of trees on each side of your path, or add stone, or  ?...

secondly, as an example, you have never stated that you wished a Japanese garden and therefore I need to wait to find out what it is you wish for from your concept plan.

How do you wish to 'read' your garden? How should others 'read' your garden?
Perhaps with your outlined concept plan we could start at the beginning of laying out a garden?
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: tdg on December 21, 2011, 10:53:44 pm
Have you visited the Huntington Japanese Garden.  You should be able to see many plants that work well in your area.  One problem,  the Japanese Garden section is closed for remaking of infrastructure until April. The adjoining Chinese Garden is open and you may be able to get plant lists from the library or the visitors center.
Title: Re: Garden tree help
Post by: cypher on December 22, 2011, 03:12:54 am
Edzard, i really do appreciate your help. I do wish to have a relaxing Japanese feel to my garden as i stroll through. I will use more bolders, gravel, stone and any other natural addition to it. Im not really aiming for the copses look or feel where im planting the prunus Yoshino or prunus mume. As you walk in the path from my patio, to the left (full shade all day long) will be some Japanese Maples (i heard in my zone, they do better in the shade given azalea conditions). To the right will be a autum gold ginkgo (they do very good in my area). Not really looking for the copses look either but was hoping to get some trees that keep small trunks or grew slowly where i would not see full growth of the trunk in my generation. ;) Hence the thought of planting a dogwood, magnolia or any small tree. But those Orange trees have to go. I rather have flower and leaf litter more that fruit. These oranges fall daily and they stink when they bust open. It makes my yard smell fermented.