Throughout this tree’s 12 years of training, I have photographed and documented every step in detail, to study the cause-effect response of each technique applied, as well as the timing of that response. One thing I have learned is that candle-cutting in summer should be done about 100 days before your area’s average first frost. This gives new growth time to grow and harden off before winter, but not so much time that needles get too long.
Summer candle-cutting is the removal of this year’s growth, right down to the base. It leaves last year’s growth in place, so basically it makes the tree look like it did in March before it started growing.
Why summer candle-cut? It is a refinement technique which forces the tree to produce multiple shoots from the point where a single shoot was. This increases ramification and density. It also results in shorter internodes and shorter needles.
Here is a progression of this year’s growth.
This tree was candle-cut just a bit early this year because it was accepted into the 7th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in New York this September. My timing is to have new shoots just open in time for the show, so the shoots will be full, but needles will be short. Most of last year’s needles will be removed just prior to the show.
For more on the process of training this tree, check out my book, 100+ pages of photographs showing a virtual time-lapse training of a JBP.:
Over the winter, I pruned and wired out nearly every branch on the hawthorn, working to refine the secondary branch structure and begin adding on to the tertiary branches. A few weeks after the first pruning, here is a good shot of the tree in the sunshine:
I had a hypothesis that certain fungicides inhibited growth in this hawthorn, and made a decision to withhold them this year until the tree had grown out strong. Interestingly, growth was very strong this year, but so was the fungal growth. So from this point forward, it will receive fungicide treatments to try to contain the cedar-Apple rust.
So, a few weeks after the first pruning back this spring, the wires had tightened enough that it was time to remove them.
After all wires removed:
A few branches in the upper right will need to be tweaked further, so they will be rewired soon. The goal for the rest of the summer will be to contain the rust, and selective pruning to keep refining the tertiary branches. The tree still has a couple guy-wires in place, and a thread graft which is years-old and still attached. Since it isn’t visible in leaf, I’m not in a hurry to remove it, since it’s in an otherwise rather bare spot.
One last shot a couple weeks later after the bark has darkened a little.