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Three 'Cedar' Bonsai & Two Riddles


This has to be one of the best Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) bonsai we've seen yet, though we have seen thousands of magnificent Cedars growing in the wild here in Northern Vermont and surrounding states and provinces. This one belongs to Brian Donnely of Quebec City. The photo is from one of the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition album

If you don't like riddles, or you're simply bored by my enthusiasm about all things trees, then please feel free to skip ahead and just enjoy the photos

Now for the riddles....
Riddle 1: When is a Cedar not really a Cedar?
Riddle 2: And if it's not really a Cedar, then what is it?

The answers are below...

Before. This is what happens to Cedars. You do heavy trimming and wiring (see below) and next thing you know, it looks like this. This one belongs to Michael Pollock

As you may know, our native Cedars present a challenge for bonsai artists. The foliage fans tend to grow too large for scale, so diligent and ongoing trimming is essential. Without going in to too much detail, there’s an art to it that requires sharp shears, wire and an understanding of how cedars grow


After Michael Pollock's extensive trimming and wiring. Now it just needs some time for the foliage to recover and grow just a bit. Here's Michael's caption... "Another recently re-worked tree. This time a Thuja or Eastern White Cedar. Recent scientific study aged these collected New England specimens as quite old. Safe to say this tree pre-dates the USA. Really ready for a new pot soon."


Boreal Bonsai. This White cedar (Thuja occidentalis) belongs to Paul Chong of the Toronto Bonsai Society and the Lakeshore Bonsai blog. White cedars grace much of northern New England, though the best ones for bonsai are usually found further north in Quebec and Ontario, along the escarpments and near the northern tree line, where sparse rocky soil and cold winds provide just the right degrees of difficulty for spectacular wild bonsai like this one

If you've read this far and you're one of the two people who care about the Riddles,
the answers, are...

Riddle 1: When is a Cedar not really a Cedar?

Answer: When it's not a Cedrus or true Cedar

Riddle 2: If it's not a true Cedar, then what is it?
Most of the trees that we commonly call Cedars here in North America are not Cedrus (Latin for Cedar) but rather are Thuja (Aka Arborvitae - tree of life). The three bonsai shown in this post are Thuja occidentalis, a species that may have more common names than almost any other tree on this planet. Ten that you might stumble upon, are: Cedar, White cedar, Northern white cedar, Eastern white cedar, Atlantic white cedar, Swamp cedar, False white cedar, American arborvitae, Eastern arborvitae and simply Arborvitae (thank you Wikipedia).

By the way, around here most people simply call them Cedars. However, to be more specific I prefer Northern white cedar (I have my reasons which have to do with not confusing them with at least two other trees that are native to the Northeast, Chamaecyparis thyoides and Juniperus virginiana)


Northern white cedar (aka Eastern white cedar, aka Thuja occidentalis, aka Arborvitae)
growing in the wild. Now you know about the white part,
though many have reddish brown or cinnamon trucks 


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