Guy Wire Primer

Guy wires

Using guy wires added a new dimension to styling trees.  It’s one thing to read about it, but give it a try if the design calls for it.  When?  Why?

  1. Bend larger branches that would require wire larger than practical to use
  2. Move short, stocky branches
  3. Hold a broken (intentional or unintentional) branch in position
  4. Inconspicuously move a branch when preparing a tree for show
  5. Reposition a portion of the tree that won’t set before the wire becomes embedded
  6. Gradual bending over a course of weeks is a safer course of action

This Japanese Black Pine has been in training for the last 5 years.  The article chronicling it’s development is HERE.  These photos are from Fall ’09, Fall ’10, and Last winter, after wiring, a new front was chosen to address some of the problems that aren’t really visible from front-on shots, and to make use of branches that had foliage closer to the trunk.  As a result, the tree spent this year getting used to the new front, and sat on the bench all year with “bed head”, so it was good to get it back in shape.

One key change was to move the first right branch from parallel to the pot downward at a better angle to the trunk.  The branch is about 1” thick at the collar and only 5” long, so it’s pretty stout.  Rather than simply bending it, it was deliberately “cracked” at the top side where it joins the trunk; deep into the heart wood of the trunk itself.  A bamboo stick was wedged in to hold the crack open.  Wrapped in Parafilm and then raffia to hold in moisture, a length of #8 copper wire was applied to the branch to support it.

Once the branch was “cracked” and wrapped, a screw was inserted into the end of the branch, and another at a scar at the base of the trunk.  Cuts and scars heal over in time, so it is a safe place to anchor.  Inserting a screw into the end of the branch distributes the pressure over the entire length of the branch, rather than at a single point when looped over the branch, or at multiple points when wired.

Loop a length of #16 copper (or steel, but not aluminum; it stretches) wire around the lower screw, and twist the ends together over the upper screw.  Apply some pressure to the branch and take up the slack in the wire by twisting it tighter over the upper screw.  Once the desired angle is reached, stop twisting.

Guy wires are a great trick to have in the arsenal, give it a try when you have a branch that wiring won’t quite get.

4 thoughts on “Guy Wire Primer

  1. Hi Brian,
    What is the story with the Pine labaled jwp….
    That is an AMAZING tree…is it yours ??
    nice blog,,
    Thanks for posting

  2. Hi Brian,
    What is the story with the Pine labaled jwp….on the ” Testing…1…2…3″ page….
    That is an AMAZING tree…is it yours ??
    nice blog,,
    Thanks for posting

    1. Thanks Steve, it’s one I bought from Brussel’s last year. It was imported from Japan in ’04, styled by Peter Warren this fall, and he estimated to be 75 years old. It’s got a good graft, and will take a few years to fill in nicely, but the “bones” are there.

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