Working on field-grown material a few years out of the ground is some of my favorite work. The main objectives for this early stage development are to heal wounds, create the upper sections of the trunk, and develop the primary branches.
The black pine below has been out of the ground for two or three years. My goals for it are to thicken the new leader and develop density on the lower branches.
At first glance, these goals are contradictory. To thicken the upper section of the trunk I want to encourage vigorous growth. To create density below I want to stimulate branch ramification. I’ll try to address both goals by letting the top grow and decandling the lower branches.
Japanese black pine – 47″
After thinning and decandling the lower branches
Here’s a close-up of the work on the lower section of the tree.
The trunk of the future bonsai
After thinning and decandling
Normally I’d leave the tree alone to thicken the new leader as fast as possible, but because I have low branches that I can use in the final design, I want to keep these branches from getting too strong. By decandling them, I can slow down their growth and improve branch density. By letting the sacrifice branch grow freely, I can heal the large wound near the top of the tree and thicken this upper portion of the trunk.
I took a somewhat opposite approach to another tree at the same stage of development. My goal for this pine is to stimulate more growth close to the trunk. I’ll do this by thinning and decandling the foliage furthest from the trunk.
After thinning, decandling, and needle-plucking – 37″
Here’s a close-up of the work on the lower part of the tree.
Before cutback and decandling
The basic outline of the work on the second pine is to move the areas of vigor from the tree’s exterior to its interior. This will take place over several years. Once the new leader primary and branches are established, a second round of sacrifice branches will help thicken this growth and heal any remaining wounds.
Sei Boku Bonsai Kai’s 35th Annual Show this Weekend!
The Sei Boku Bonsai Kai is hosting their 35th annual show from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday at the San Mateo Garden Center. I’ll be demonstrating Saturday at noon and leading an open view workshop on Sunday, also at noon. The demo will feature work on a shohin black pine that will be raffled at the conclusion of the event.
Club sales of trees and pots, door prizes and raffles both days. I’ll also be vending tools and trees. Learn more at the Sei Boku website.
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