After developing the branches on a black pine for the past nineteen years, it was time to give the tree a haircut.
After reducing the apex
When I acquired the tree twenty years ago, it was much taller. After showing it at Bay Island Bonsai’s second exhibit, I removed the top third of the trunk and began creating a new apex.
Over the last few years, the new apex had grown too large for the tree, making me think it was time to repeat the operation.
The plan went from thought to action when Daisaku Nomoto, a friend and bonsai professional visiting from Japan, made the same suggestion. I got out the camera, gave the go-ahead, and watched the branches fall.
A better look at the cut area
The previous apex – about fifteen years in the making
The lowest branches got the same treatment. On the right side, the first pad comprises three separate branches. We removed the branches emerging closest to the front of the trunk.
The first branches on the right side
After removing the branches growing from the front of the tree
The lowest branch on the left side offered a natural point for reduction.
The lowest branch on the left side
After reducing the branch
Although cutback is far from complete, here’s the foliage removed on the first pass.
And here’s the tree after rearranging the apex.
Black pine after cutback and rearranging the apex – 15″
I’ll thin out the rest of the branches and pluck extra needles over the coming weeks. Five months from now, I’ll cut back even further at decandling time in an effort to create a more compact silhouette.
You can find a photo of this tree before cutback on page 83 of The Little Book of Bonsai. Speaking of books…
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I’m happy to announce that The Little Book of Bonsai is available online and in stores today! I’ll have it on the Bonsai Tonight store soon. In the meantime, you can find copies online and at select retail outlets. Learn more about The Little Book of Bonsai.
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