One of my favorite things about working on trees I’ve had for a long time is that the work is straightforward.
My normal pattern is to spend the first few years of a tree’s time in my garden getting it healthy. Once the tree is healthy, I can spend the next few years doing any major work the tree might need. When the major work is complete I can focus on branch refinement.
As I grew the pine below from seed, I’ve had ample opportunity to set the structure and am now working on finishing the apex and increasing branch density.
Black pine – 15 years old from seed
The work at this time of year is simple: thin crowded branches, remove unnecessary needles, and wire branches that need adjusting.
Here’s the tree after removing a dozen small branches and reducing the sacrifice branch.
The next step is to prepare the tree for wiring. I did this by removing most of the old needles and some of the new needles.
After thinning unnecessary needles
I wired the primary branches that grew from the trunk plus a few secondary branches. As you can see, the basic shape is roughly the same. The main difference is that the branches now reach out farther to the sides.
After wiring – 15″
Near the apex, I’ve preserved more branches than I need to maintain sap flow along the upper part of the trunk. When the future apex gets bigger in one or two years, I’ll reduce the trunk by cutting back to the new apex.
In the meantime, the refinement will continue.
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