Typical fall work for Japanese black pine: remove old wire, remove unnecessary branches and needles, wire remaining branches.
This simple process can reveal a lot about a tree. I’d been thinking the shohin black pine below had the basics in place – good primary and secondary branches that could be quickly developed into an attractive silhouette. Not so. Although the tree appeared to be full before cutback and wiring, it turns out that looks can be deceiving.
Shohin Japanese black pine – Fall 2010
After removing wire, unnecessary branches and superfluous needles
So far, so good. I began the wiring with the first branch on the right – which came out better than I expected. The next branch I wired – the first on the left side – was a bit thin, but there were still plenty of shoots to work with.
As I worked my way up the tree, I began to realize there just weren’t enough branches near the apex. Grafting may be necessary, and plenty of time for the apex to ramify.
After wiring – note thin apex!
I’ve wired enough pines to know that there never seem to be enough shoots near the apex. This simply takes time, and none of my pines have been in training long enough to develop mature apices. Fortunately this tree is developing quickly. I started working on it seriously about three years ago, and the progress has been dramatic. See “Shohin black pine from scratch” – my third post to Bonsai Tonight – for photos from January 2009.
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