Fall work on an ‘Arakawa’ Japanese Black Pine

In March of this year, I repotted this pine, and had to get rather aggressive to address some rotting roots under the trunk. Here is the post which shows the tree, bare-rooted, and reduced to nearly a cutting. I was confident the tree had enough roots to live, and the timing was perfect. I was also confident that the tree would die if I allowed top he rotting to continue, and was losing surface roots.


I decided to not candle-cut the tree in the summer, knowing that would set back branch ramification for a year, and result in longer needles…but that was a short-term sacrifice for a longer gain.

By late spring, it was clear the tree was recovering and healthy.

Note the strong candle on the grafted shoot on the first right branch.

I let the tree grow for the rest of the summer, and in mid-September, it looked like this:

The angle of the grafted branch is bothersome, but it was the second attempt and the only place I could get good contact. With a little luck, wire, and some carving, I should be able to hide it over time.

I removed old needles and pruned whorls back to pairs:

And added a little wire to the new shoots to fan out the branches. Here is the result for now:

Over the next few years, I’ll let the branches extend and begin to build pads of ramification. By next fall, I hope to have a profile similar to this photoshop virt:

By the way, this tree was grown by Chris and Lisa Kirk of Telperion Farms. They lost everything in the Oregon wildfires, and have a GoFundMe page set here:


Styling a Corkbark Black Pine, ‘Taihei’ part 3

The previous installment is here: https://nebaribonsai.wordpress.com/2019/08/24/styling-a-corkbark-black-pine-taihei-part-2/

This year, the Taihei was left to grow unchecked until mid-September. Here is the starting point, and in fact, the first photo I took of the tree this year…remember the plan of neglect? Here is the neglected specimen after removing the dead needles.

Dense first branch

After the dead needles were removed, I began pulling some of the new needles to balance out the tree.

Since I don’t summer candle-cut this tree, balance comes in the fall through needle pulling and pruning of the strong branches back to smaller buds so that most of the tips have similar numbers of needles and similar-sized buds for next spring. Below is a shot of the first left branch. I continued this throughout the tree, wiring a bit as necessary, but trying to not wire every branch.

Lower portion complete, compared to the apex which hasn’t been worked yet:

Pruning, thinning, and wiring complete, and now ready for finishing adjustments:

And a night shot after finishing touches…ready for another year of neglect.

Late summer cleanup on a corkbark black pine

This cultivar, ‘hachi gen’ is on its own roots, and is a flaky bark corker, as contrasted with the winged corkers. These two facts make creeping moss a mortal enemy.

So with an hour to sit with the patient mindset necessary for this tedious chore, I and my tweezers got to work on this Shohin-sized JBP.

Mossy encroachment

And after the work:

Clean, but not tidy. I don’t do summer candle-cutting on this tree, because it has never responded with a reliable and balanced second flush of growth. So, instead, I remove some of the new long needles, and over the winter, lightly prune to open it up a bit.

Here it is with some of the new linger needles pulled:

The pot, Suzuki Syuzan. A little gem. Stamped on the front, back, and bottom.