Last week I wrote about starting trees along a path that would yield either large, medium or small bonsai (see “Wiring 3 year-old black pines“). I have a number of black pines that are now turning nine years old. Based on the curves in the trunk, I’m now deciding if the trees will make better large, medium or small sized bonsai.
Nine years ago, I didn’t think much about the size of the curves I created when wiring – I just knew that straight was bad and that curves were good! Up to a point, it turns out. By making very tight curves, I unwittingly determined that these trees would become small-sized bonsai. Here’s the trunk of a nine year-old black pine.
9 year old trunk
Height of first cut: 7″; Diameter 1″ from soil: 12″
Were I to let the trunk develop for another five years, the trunk would swell to the point where the curves would disappear. To maintain the curves, I removed a large escape branch and shifted the focus to developing branches. Easier said than done.
9 year old pine – height 25″
After reducing the trunk, I was left with one vertical branch and one lateral branch. As I can’t do much with two branches, I simply removed some needles and will plan to decandle in summer in an effort to stimulate new shoots.
After light thinning
I could make the exact same comments about the tree below. As the curves in the trunk are tight, letting the tree continue to thicken would result in a straight trunk. I removed the main escape branch which left me with two branches. I wired these and thinned some others and will decandle this pine as well in summer.
9 year old trunk
Height of first cut: 6″; Diameter 1″ from soil: 9″
9 year old pine – height: 27″
After light cutback
It’s funny to learn such basic lessons so many years into a project, but better late than never. If I’d continued to let these trees grow freely, I’d start to wonder where the curves went and wish I could turn back the clock. After making similar reductions to all of my young trees with tight curves, I’ve avoided this fate while creating a lot of work for myself come decandling time. Details to follow in June.
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