Wish me luck…

I candle-cut this pine on 7/1 hoping it would finish the new flush of growth in time for the September show. With 50 days behind and 20 days ahead, it’s going to be close. Typically it takes 100 days for JBP to grow and harden off a second flush after candle cutting. I’m banking on short needles, and not completely hardened off by show time.

Here is a shot from earlier this month:

And a close up from today:

It’s gonna have to hurry. We have had blazing heat in July, followed by cloudy days and intense rain in August, which hasn’t helped. Had it been the other way around, it may be different. I moved the tree to the sunniest place I have, and loaded up the soil with fertilizer.

I’ll know in a couple weeks if I blew the timing or not. Once the candles start showing needles, photosynthesis picks up, and growth accelerates. But, wish me luck.

JBP Summer Candle-cutting time

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.

New growth extends past the wires
The candle is cut here

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.

March, 2021
May 2021
July 2021
Top decandled
Continuing down
Nearly done
Complete

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.:

https://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/776eede4f8f87f62ce9fa477c1a2e5f367619e82

Bending with rebar

Sometimes wrapping a branch or trunk with wire doesn’t have enough holding power, and using rebar as an anchor point for guy-wires is more effective.

This is my Kiyozuru Itoigawa, purchased from Chikugo-en in L.A…which, from all I have been able to find, is the origin of the cultivar in the US. I bought it to have the cultivar, but wasn’t enamored with the trunk. It has a nice twist at the base, but then straightens out. The yellow line is the area where things get pretty dull.

It has been container-grown and according to Gary Ishii, it was 25-30 years old when I bought it. Growing slowly in a pot means the trunk is stiff with dense wood. Therefore, wiring the straight portion isn’t really an option.

Here is the tree before the work.

A peek into the tree revealing the straight section:

This left branch is on the spot where I want to start moving the trunk to the right, putting that branch to the outside of the bend:

Wrapping the trunk with raffia helps protect it from snapping in one spot. It will still crack, but instead of blowing out at one spot, it will distribute small fractures along the outside, reducing risk of long-term damage. Start below the bend, and go all the way to the top.

Next, I drove the rebar through the root ball down to the bottom of the pot, and attached it to the trunk at two points, protecting the trunk with some rubber pieces and tubing.

Next, I attached a block to the trunk, just below the branch that will become an outside branch. In effect, this block becomes the fulcrum, and the rebar is now attached to the tree in 3 places, plus through the root system and to the bottom of the pot. It is secure and stable.

Next up, I attached a guy-wire at the height of the trunk I want to be pulled the farthest to the right.

Next, I used my left hand to squeeze the branch toward the rebar, and used pliers with my right hand to twist the wire, taking up the slack. I repeated this several times. Notice how much the trunk moved by how much slack is twisted out to the right of the rebar.

Finally, I used another wood block to push the apex back to the left.

So here is the final result:

While it’s a bit hard to see through all the foliage, the trunk does have movement now in that straight section. I’ll probably leave the rig on the tree for the next 2 years, and then begin making branch selection and styling the tree. I’ll also like tilt the tree more to the right a bit more to further accentuate the trunk movement.

Here is a side-by-side, which illustrates the results better.