Ezo Spruce…and a little patience

This ezo Spruce (picea jezoensis) came from Evergreen Gardenworks after a long search for a decent ezo or sachalin. I settled on this one because it had the biggest trunk, and should do better in my hot, humid summers.

Brent’s comments on the tree are:
“I purchased these trees as seedling liners in the early ’90’s from the now defunct Rare Conifer Nursery in Potter Valley CA. It was run by a rich conifer nut that traveled all over the work collecting seed. This was also the source of my P. glehnii, so I am confident that both are the real McCoy. I chopped it back at least once several years ago to keep it low and bushy, did a little surface root work, but not much else has been done.”


Here it is, as it arrived in summer ’10:



In October, ’11, Peter Warren and I looked at the tree and made some heavy pruning cuts, setting it down the road for a formal upright. Growing up in Iowa, some of the most distinguishing trees in the landscape are the old spruces, branches weighted all the way to the ground with years of snow. The old golf course I grew up playing on was covered with these. They’re among my favorite trees, especially when I don’t have to punch out from under one!

So here it is, pruned back…get ready, it’s not a stately old specimen from the golf course yet:



In an earlier post, I likened a jinned apex to a song fading out as the ending…kind of a copout. More on that later.

Brent mentioned that little root work had been done on the tree, and judging by the weight of the 5-gallon can, it seemed sure that the roots were a densely tangled mass.

Since the top was reduced by about 50%, this spring was a good time to address what was in the can. I began by sawing off the bottom 1/3 of the rootball, then combing everything out. It took around an hour to get the roots sorted out, but the base turned out to be pretty impressive:





From there, it was allowed to grow freely all year. The response was good, considering the amount of reduction, both top and roots. While growth wasn’t overly strong, it was good, and many buds also set for next year.
After a full season to recover from heavy pruning in October ’11, and heavy root work in February ’12, it was time to take a few more steps.

1. Address the Jin (remember…I don’t like songs that fade out, or trees that end in a ten-Jin).
2. Determine a front…at least within 15 degrees.
3. Pull the primary branches down.
4. Wire the remaining shoots.
5. Thin out the foliage for some balance. The right side is much heavier, and while it was grown all year with the left side facing South, it still needs to strengthen.

Here is the front of the ezo after the ’12 growing season:




And the ten-Jin removed…a step in the right direction, but a decision that will take a few years to heal over and leave a convincing transition.


When the tree was repotted this spring, I ran a couple of copper wire loops through the anchor-wire holes, in anticipation of using guy wires to pull down the primary branches:


Pulling down the primary branches:


After wiring the remaining branches, thinning the right side, and starting to address the apex:


What’s next?
1. Get the tree growing stronger in ’13.
2. Keep an eye on the strength and work to balance it between the left (weak) and right (strong).
3. Encourage back-budding.
4. Grow shoots to develop a more convincing apex.



3 thoughts on “Ezo Spruce…and a little patience

  1. Great decision on the apex. I think there is too much of the jin top these days. And for this tree, and your formal upright, it’s more fitting not to have a dead top.

  2. A long path taken in 2 1/2 years. Good job. Already looks stately in the snow. Looks like it is at home (in Iowa). 🙂

  3. The second to last photo from the end was where I went “Ah, there it is”. Looks great! I love the touch of snow. I’ve just recently germinated some Picea glehnii seed and I’m hoping for some fun experimentation here in Texas.

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