In general, I treat red and black pines the same. This doesn’t, however, mean that the trees respond the same to the same work.
Black pines are generally the more predictable of the two varieties. After decandling, I can expect between one and three shoots per branch in all but the strongest areas where it’s common to find up to ten or more shoots.
Red pines, on the other hand, often produce more variable growth. The same tree may respond differently to decandling from year to year, and different trees – even when growing in the same container – can produce widely variable growth.
Three of the five trees in my red pine group planting came out well this year, producing between one and three shoots per branch. The other two trees came out dense with many branches producing seven to fifteen shoots each.
The tree on the left, for example, produced a low number of shoots per branch.
The left hand tree
The tree on the right came out dense this year.
The right hand tree
Here’s an example of a crowded area.
And here’s the same branch after removing nine shoots.
After cutting back to two or three shoots
Zooming out a bit, here’s what the larger block of foliage looked like before and after thinning.
Branch pad before thinning
Branch pad after thinning
Looking from the side, it’s easier to see the foliage on the top half of the pad and the branch structure below.
Branch pad from the side
The tree looks remarkably similar after cutback from the front as the difference is more noticeable from above than straight on.
It appears I had the same idea seven years ago. If you’re curious about how the trees have changed since then, see “Thinning a red pine forest.”
ABS Gateway to Bonsai in St. Louis on now!
Gateway to Bonsai, hosted by the American Bonsai Society and the Bonsai Society of Greater St. Louis is open now through Sunday morning. The event features headliners Marc Noelanders, Bjorn Bjorholm, and Matt Reel, plus workshops, seminars and a large vendor’s area.
I’m vending at the event, leading a seminar on advanced wiring Friday, and hosting a workshop that focuses on the creation of exposed root black pine bonsai on Saturday. If you’re thinking of heading to the convention and want to learn more, find more info about the event here!
News from the National Arboretum
In bonsai news from the National Arboretum, the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum was recently voted the best place in Washington D.C. to take out of towners. This is an impressive achievement considering the Museum beat the National Mall to gain the top recommendation! See details from Washington City Paper here.