Fall cleanup of an almost-shohin JBP

Almost shohin because it’s just about 9″ tall. This is a cutting-grown cultivar of Corkbark JBP called Hachi-Gen. It is 20 years old, container-grown it’s whole life. I’ve had it for over 10 years now, and here is how looked after I wired it last in late 2014:

It’s usually not good to leave wires on for 4 years, but this tree grows slowly, and isn’t in a lot of soil. I would have been wise to remove it last year, but just didn’t quite get to it…until today, October 2018…more than 4 years later:

And yes, it has been too long, as the wires were heavily embedded, and it took a couple hours to get them removed:

Fortunately, not much collateral damage. Here is a shot of the tree unwired:

Next up is pulling needles, and light pruning. Areas with 3-4 shoots were reduced to a pair of shoots:

With a brush pile like this:

You wouldn’t expect the tree to still look this full, but it will be healthier for it:

Next up, remove moss from the trunk…carefully with tweezers:

And the work is complete for the year. Next year, a repot into a drier soil mix; more pumice and larger grained akadama.

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Fall cleanup on a corkbark Black Pine

This Kyokko Yatsabusa has been in my garden for 10 years now. It came from Don Blackmond, via Dave DeWire in WA. Dave propagates corkbark JBP, among other trees. Here is a shot from 2008, still at Don’s in MI:

I’m almost positive this is the back now. Fast forward 10 years, and I’m trying to get it ready to show at some point. It was wired carefully last fall, repotted this spring into a larger pot, a Gyouzan, and allowed to grow freely all year. In late summer and early fall, old needles start to brown, and is time to remove them. They can be a bit persistent, and along with the fragile nature of the branches, it’s best to hold the branch in one hand and tug the brown needles out one pair at a time. Otherwise you can end up with an entire branch in hand…detatched from tree.

Old dead needles removed with tweezers:

Then the downward-facing needles were removed. For this, I use my fingers. I’ll hold the branch in my left hand from below, and pull the downward-hanging needles with my right. Still taking them out one at a time, because if I try to get 2, often a full tiny shoot will come loose. This is a lot tidier so far:

When I get to this point, I’ll often take a photo and look at the overall canopy for profile, dense or sparse spots, and other traits that stand out. Cameras can be harsh judges, and if the tree looks good in a photo, it probably looks good in life.

Here, some areas I’ll work with over the next few days include:

Reducing the apex height just a bit by thinning out the needles. Doing the same with the first right branch, and maybe creating a little space between it and the branch above. Finally, the base has been showing the fact it’s a graft a bit more over the years, as the corky bark flakes off, betraying the standard-bark understock. Fortunately, I saved some of this bark to reattach later. What, you don’t have baggies of this laying around too? I actually moved and still managed to keep track of this tree’s baggie o bark.

Carefully placing the bark, then mossing around it may help with the appearance of reverse taper. Cheating? Nah…it’s all about the illusion anyway, right?

So, here is the final result, short of mossing up the soil.

I think the real star of the show is this little Erodium in a special pot:

In two weeks, we’re going to talk a lot about pots…

Fall cleanup on a corkbark JBP

This one is fussy, maybe it’s the cultivar; Kyokko Yatsabusa, or just the fact it’s a corkbark black pine.  I pruned and wired it out in 2014, and it’s taken all of the last 4 growing seasons to strengthen to a point where light pruning was an option again.  An aggressive fungicide regime has all but eradicated needle cast, and the black aphids draining an occasional needle aren’t decimating it.  

I do not do summer candle-cutting on this tree, but instead, allow it to grow, and then thin buds and pull needles in the fall.  Here is the mid summer shot:


And after simply pulling downward-facing needles, and thinning some congested shoots, and a few strands of #14 wire to coax a few 2-year old shoots into position, here is the result:


If the upper right area continues to fill in, and I can get the first left branch pulled down just a few more degrees, I think I’ll be satisfied to just feed and water it, and spend a couple hours each fall tidying it up.