Once black pine seedlings have developed a bit of a trunk, typically after two or three years, it’s time to start wiring. Following Daisaku Nomoto’s advice that young seedlings should develop slowly, I skipped repotting and wired the trees in their current 3″ pots. First I stripped away the lower needles to facilitate wiring, then I removed the topmost soil until I reached the level where roots protruded from the trunk.
3 year-old black pine
After removing the lower needles to facilitate wiring and finding the surface roots
Nomoto showed me a great trick for anchoring the wire into the pot. I measured a length of wire a bit taller than the seedling and pot and ran the wire through the bottom of the pot. Creating a small hook with pliers and pulling the wire into place secured the wire and made it easy to wire the seedling.
Creating a hook
After pulling the hook into place
Nomoto demonstrated the kinds of curves he was looking for at this point. The coils were close together and movement was subtle in all directions – perfectly appropriate for a medium or large sized tree.
Wired 3 year old seeding
Why does the eventual size of the tree matter? The point at this stage is to develop growth along the future line of the trunk. As smaller trees will have tighter curves than larger trees, we made the curves slight for trees that will eventually grow large and tight for future shohin and kifu bonsai.
Future large tree
Future small bonsai
Very small curves on a large tree sometimes disappear as the trunk thickens, and in some cases they can cause reverse taper – both undesirable effects. Matching the curves to the future size of the tree is a good check against this.
Future large and small pines
Or so I’m told – I’m very curious to see the effect of this approach several years out.