In the coastal ranges of northern California there are Douglas Fir trees that grow quite well in a large range of locations. Near San Francisco in the Marin Headlands and in Point Reyes National Seashore the trees can get nearly as large as some redwood trees. My house, built in 1903, is framed almost exclusively with the wood from some of the old growth trees that were harvested at the time. Looking at the range map in Northern California you might get the impression that you’ll not be able to escape the shade of Pseudotsuga menziesii.
But, in bonsai one is rarely looking for large and straight trees. Thus I had not really considered P. menziesii a candidate for bonsai use until I ran into the Rocky Mountain variation while touring gardens around Portland. The growth habit of the foliage is similar, but the bark on the specimens is much more interesting, quite old and there is deadwood and movement in many of the compact specimens. In contrast to even the best candidates from California; like the deer-pruned trees inhabiting windswept coastal bluffs and forming mats of dense foliage with squat but still straight trunks, these trees are truly interesting for bonsai.
The Colorado type is a named variety: Pseudotsuga menziesii subsp. glauca. The examples I saw while touring Portland were quite a bit more interesting than just a big straight tree.
All four of the trees above were in the Bonsai Mirai garden of Ryan Neil.
Perhaps the Portland community can keep surprising me with native species that are suitable for bonsai for some time to come.