I've read that when grafting conifers or starting from a cutting one should not use new growth from a branch because it will have a tendency to continue growing horizontally. If one were to use branch cuttings from a tree that had the leader removed a year or so prior, so the branches were bending upwards, would that take care of the horizontal growth problem? I ask because the deer ate the leader off one of my little firs, and if I have to cut the extra branches (leaving one) I may as well have the fun of trying to grow from cuttings. Also my neighbour, Henry VIII of conifers, has what used to be lovely mystery spruce trees growing along the property line I wouldn't mind replicating. Secondly, many years ago my father was told by an arborist that when a tree is topped directly under a ring of branches, rather than over a ring, it won't grow a new top. My father only had two Doug firs topped in this way; one grew a new top, and one grew ridiculously long branches instead (which are now subject to much damage from snow and wind). Just to be clear, I think a topped tree is an abomination, but I like to experiment, so...I made use of the row of single-stemmed hedge trees planted by the previous owner of my house. Half I topped above a node, half below. There aren't enough to be a "real" experiment, ten or so, but there were two distinct responses. The ones cut above a node had the expected response of all the upper branches growing upwards fairly evenly. The trees cut below a node tended to have only one branch from the upper ring grow, and that branch grew GIANT! Perhaps bigger than the original leader would have been. Does anyone have any thoughts on the physiology involved?