I’d been looking forward to working on a Ponderosa pine this year. Now that the old needles are starting to turn yellow and fall away, it was time to do some work.
Ponderosa pine – 18″ tall
The best features of the tree are the deadwood on the lower part of the trunk and the movement of the upper trunk. It’s easier to see the movement from the back of the tree.
The first step was to remove the old needles.
Branch with old needles
After removing the old needles
I limited the needle work to needles that easily fell away or that were yellow or brown. Here’s the tree after clean-up.
After removing the yellow and brown needles
Next I started thinking about how to style the tree. My main goal was to bring the foliage closer to the tree’s good points, particularly the deadwood in the trunk. By rotating and tilting the tree, it became easier to see the back-and-forth bends in the trunk.
New front showing the bends in the trunk
The next step was to put a big bend in the upper part of the trunk. Doing this would have the effect of lowering the first branch on the right. I bent the branch by hand and held it in place with a guy wire.
After making the bend
I started wiring the main branches, making a few small cuts along the way to improve the branch structure.
After wiring the branches
As you can see in the photo above, doing this work made the lowest branch look comically large compared with the rest of the tree. Shortening it helped.
Styling complete – 15″ tall
With the branches wired, there’s no more work required for the coming year. The idea is to maintain the tree’s vigor so it can produce the buds needed to ramify the branches – no easy feat on a small tree! A new pot is also in order. I’ll look to make that change this coming winter or the next.
Bonsai Development Intensive Update
Two Development Intensives are scheduled for this fall. The first session has sold out, but there is space available in the second session running November 15-17.
To learn more or to reserve a spot, visit the Development Intensive page.
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