As most of you know, it can be hard to find good material for black pine bonsai outside of Japan. This forces a certain level of creativity. Growing seeds is one good approach. Another is converting landscape trees to bonsai.
I recently purchased a couple of black pines developed as landscape trees in the hope they could someday become bonsai. The larger of the two was taller than I am.
Black pine developed as landscape tree
Despite the large size and uninteresting trunk line, the tree possessed a couple of characteristics that made me think hard about working with the tree as bonsai. The base of the trunk is fairly large, and good bark is beginning to develop.
Base of trunk – side A
Base of trunk – side B
A good trunk is a great start for a tree, but branches also matter, and this tree had but a small number of quite large branches. I didn’t have long to think about it, but I knew I had some intriguing starting points so I brought the tree home.
What, then, to do with it? I’m curious to hear your suggestions. I’ll post photos of the initial work later this week.
Subscribe to Bonsai Tonight
New Posts Delivered Every Tuesday and Friday
Daniel Dolan says
Very interested to follow your sequence of activities with this tree. In Chicago, larger nursery stock is the 2nd best resource for Bonsai material…..the 1st being someone else Bonsai.
Curious to see if your first task is initial hard pruning / styling or getting the tree out of its nursery soil and just letting it sit for another season. Or can you trunk chop and repot, which I figured is what many do when collecting larger yamadori.
Adair M says
Jonas, I have just done the same thing. In my case, I did a chop about 15 inches at the shop so I could get it in the car. I left a stump of about 5 inches above where I intend to build the new trunk line. In my case, the tree has lots of small branchlets 1 or 2 inches long that have popped at the base of the major branches. So I plan to completely regrow branches using those. Much like you would with a trident maple trunk.
Your tree has fantastic nebari! I can’t wait to see what you do with it!
I’d take off the bottm branch and everything above the 3rd branch leaving 15 cms of jin.
Zack Clayton says
I would leave the bottom three branches alone and trunk chop in the first long internode. If you can support the care, I would also repot into bonsai soil either in a grow box or one of your large collanders. I cant see into the base of that third banch, but there should be something in there to start as a new apex. It would be nice to see some sort of scale indicator in these photos. That is something that is lacking in a lot of published development galleries.
I see a lot of small branching on those first three branches. I’d cut it off just above the third branch, second one up on right, angle cut down to the top of the second branch or the one going to the right. There must be something between those two branchs to come up with an apex. I’d then cut the three branches back to a good side branch to make an end. Mind you now I am just going by what I see and no close up photos of the branching.
Get it out of the nursery tub and into a grow box with decent soil, prune and straighten out the roots in this process.
Then wire all the main and secondary branches sit back and admire the potential. Take care of it, after needles harden off trim back for budding next year, fertilize the heck out of it with a “no nitrogen” fertilizer and look forward to next spring.
That tree will be a stunning bonsai in a few years.
I meant “angle cut down to the top of the second branch or the one going left.”
Nice find Jonas! I would love to start this project. I like the bark on side A the best so far. I look forward to seeing this tree develop.
Scott Roxburgh says
From the pics, I’d also pick side A.
First, chop above the branch third from the base.
Second, clean up and wire the branches that are left.
Third, not sure on timing but repot into bonsai mix.
Look forward to seeing what you do Jonas.
Many good suggestions have been made on design possibilities! This kind of material if fun because it is challenging, and forces one to think hard on how to bring the best out in a tree.
If it were mine I may have decided to be a little more radical. Using side B, first remove the top down to where the trunk becomes strait (branch 4 from the base) and then split away the right part of the trunk down almost to the bottom. Branch 4 becomes the apex and the split trunk now more flexible can be given a slight curve and twist to the left, and remove branches 2 and 3. The idea is to give the tree a more graceful perhaps windswept movement to the left. Branch 1 can also be reduced. Could even change the planting angle either to the right or left? Wow, that it radical!
My apologies, This should have been for side A!
Dale Brock says
It looks like the second and third branches are at the same leve. That might make it easier in the long run. It is hard to make a design just from pictures, but if those two branch are at the same level, chop it just above that and raise one of them up to be the new trunk. Might consider doing some heavy bending if possible btween the second and third branch to give it some movement that could be further accentuated in the upper trunk. Good luck and make sure you let us know what you decide.
Alex V says
Hi Jonas, fun tree. Those branches aren’t gonna work, so I am gonna go with approach graft 3 new branches and an apex, all quite low down (I am invisioning a kifu/chuhin). You can probably trunk chop it above the first 3 branches for now, and get half of it bare rooted and into bonsai soil, next year bare root the other half to get rid lf the bad soil. As Boon would say, 6 years good tree.