In 2007 I started a batch of Monterey Cypress from seeds I collected from a tree in the Presidio here in San Francisco. Cypress grow very fast, even as seedlings. It takes only 2-3 years to have a tree that is three feet tall, although the trunk remains small.
I grew them in pond baskets and boxes for a few years. They do okay in baskets, but tend to get roots so dense that using a Sawzall to remove the bottom of the root mass becomes necessary. In 2010 when I moved to Thousand Oaks, I put eight of the trees into the ground, almost like a hedge along one side of my bonsai growing area. In only two years the trunks went from less than one inch to about three inches across.
In December 2012, I dug all eight trees up again and put them into large boxes to transport back to San Francisco. Below is an example of what one of these looked like.
Before work. The tree was cut back hard after being dug out of the ground. The top half was removed and all the large branches were stubbed back to be short. Cypress can easily grow a couple feet worth of branch extension in a year so it didn’t take long to get some good small branches to work with.
My chosen front, 2014. It provides a good balance between the movement of the main trunk and the angle of the large branch on the left.
Detail of the base from the front, 2014.
The tree measured about 25″ high with a girth of 3″. One of the great things about Cypress is that they seem to put on significant wood even in a bonsai container. The wire will cut in very quickly, and after removing the wire the branches have a habit of springing back. The disadvantage of their wood production is that over time the branches can get too large, particularly on the top of the tree.
Looking down at the top of the tree, 2014. Lots of wire! Looking at it now, I suppose I should have done something about that cut mark before I wired the tree.
January 2015, after a second wiring.
February 2015, repotted into a nice old pot.