Here is but a small sample of the shohin pines at Gashou-en.
Japanese black pine
Sasaki clearly appreciates black pines as there was no lack of the variety at his nursery. Some had large trunks, others slender trunks with good movement, and almost all of them were under 8″.
Less developed black and white pines were legion on the benches.
Young shohin pines
There were also a few larger trees, including this medium-sized exposed root black pine.
A number of these larger pines had recently come to the nursery from Shikoku. Their rootballs were buried in the ground until the time could be found to repot them all.
Black and white pines
Some 20-30 years ago, Kyushu bonsai hobbyist Mr. Honda began buying pine trees from Nomoto Chinshoen, a Miyazaki bonsai nursery. As the trees had little in the way of branching, Honda planned on developing the branches on his own. He’s done quite a job.
Black pine bonsai
Japanese black pine
The trees aren’t particularly old – many of them 40 years give or take. The branches were developed over about 20 years.
Well developed branches
Honda has a relatively small collection, but the trees all look great. I couldn’t believe what a great job he’s done developing these pines.
Black pine with large trunk
Yet another black pine
The trees relatively young age was evident by looking closely at the trunk. Although the roots were impressive – and likely the result of seedling-cutting – the bark had yet to develop the furrows I’ve seen in other trees of similar age. I don’t know if these trunks were grown in the ground or in containers, but it appears they were created using a number of escape branches gauging by the scars.
Large black pine
Lower trunk and roots – although the tree is powerful, the bark looks young
Mr. Honda and Daisaku Nomoto taking a photo
Honda didn’t have many young pines at the house, but there were a few, and yes, they were growing in colanders.
The day was sunny but cold. It was about this time that Honda opened a thermal container and pulled out three coffees, a welcome sight. We moved on to the upper garden where he keeps his white pines and deciduous trees. I was immediately struck by a trident maple. Apparently Honda has a pretty good understanding of deciduous trees too.
Trident maple – wow!
Below the benches I found a number of small chojubai.
Root over rock Japanese flowering quince ‘chojubai’
Boy do I like this variety. Honda says he removes all but the interior leaves once a year, possibly in June, and cuts back to about two buds when shoots reach 1-2″ long. The approach seems to be working.
Root over rock chojubai
Nestled here and there were a few small shimapku with fun movement.
Sargent juniper, aka shimpaku
Across the street an empty lot is put to good use – Miyazaki mountains rise to the southeast.
View from Honda’s garden
Having just appeared in BIB’s 15th annual exhibit, the small black pine below was due for a tune up. Daisaku Nomoto made a surprising number of cuts and then reset the remaining branches. When he was finished, I repotted the tree into a more suitable container for the growing season.
Shohin black pine
After cutback and adjusting the branches
The overall goal is to make the silhouette more compact over time.
I also had a chance to clean up my young corkbark pine. Here’s the old front.
Corkbark black pine
And here’s the new front.
Before repotting, Nomoto and I removed unnecessary branches and then I plucked needles from the stronger shoots. Here’s the result of the work.
After removing needles and repotting
I’m planning to decandle the tree this year to see how it comes out – more news on that this spring.
Two years ago, I showed a young black pine at Bay Island Bonsai’s 13th annual exhibit.
Shohin black pine – January 2012
The tree has continued to develop, so I thought I’d show it again at BIB’s 15th annual exhibit. Here’s what the tree looked like last week.
I brought the tree to a BIB workshop to see if it had a chance of cleaning up enough to be shown. As most of the branches had been wired in spring (see “Decandling a shohin black pine”) the main task was bending the branches into place. Here’s what the tree looked like after setting the first branch.
After setting the first branch
Altogether I might have added half a dozen wires and plucked a small number of downward facing needles. I’ll trim the longer needles – those from shoots that weren’t decandled in spring – just before the show. Here’s the tree after wiring.
After wiring – 6.5″ (Pot #1)
I’m sure you can guess what comes next – pot selection. Here are the candidates, starting with the pot it was shown in two years ago.
Picked your favorite? Here’s mine.
After repotting – Pot #5
Some of the pots were too big (4 and 8) and some too small for the roots (3 and 6). Of those that fit well, I opted for #5, a shinto – Chinese – pot that’s maybe 30-40 years old. With some last minute clean-up, moss to cover the soil and some walnut oil for the pot, I’ll be all ready to go.
For anyone who hasn’t heard, Bay Island Bonsai’s 15th Annual Exhibit featuring trees that were born in the USA is coming up on January 18-19 in Oakland, CA. See Bay Island Bonsai for details.