I repotted this tree in March, after basically giving it a year off in 2021. It had lost a few branches in the back, I think a very delayed response to leaving wire on too long several years ago. The rest of the tree is healthy, and in time, it will be easy to perform a good “comb over” to fill in the space in the back.
For now, I wanted to clean up the tree to enjoy looking at it again, after all it is one of my favorite trees. Before:
After pruning downward-growing shoots, and trimming the strongest runners.
One lower right side branch was wired back into the profile, otherwise the tree has no other wires at the moment.
And reviewing the photo above, it appeared to want a little scrubbing down, so the trunk was scrubbed with a toothbrush, and a 50% diluted lime sulfur solution was painted onto the deadwood.
This Itoigawa came from Chikugo-en, via Bjorn in 2014. I started styling it shortly after, and here are a few shots through the years.
2015, apex still tall and peaked.
2018, apex rounded out. Branches were awkwardly located, so while the tree looks great from the front, rotating it kills the image pretty quickly.
2019, foliage tightening up, and the design is compacted.
2020, after being allowed to grow all year, then unwiring in the winter.
2021, Bjorn changed the planting angle, widened the Shari, and rewired. The result is a more refined look all the way around the tree.
In the spring, it will be repotted, likely into this old Shibikatsu.
I last wired this one 2 years ago, and the wire was digging in. It had also gotten fairly dense, and as is the case, weak areas got weaker, and strong areas got stronger.
So this work was to remove the wires, and then trim the tree back to restore some balance.
Here is the tree before the work…bushy!
After unwiring, it really has a case of bed head.
And before pruning back:
Some detail of the cleanup, here’s what gets cut.
Weak juvenile growth
Starting with this:
Ending with this, branches ending in pairs of growth “tufts”:
This will make fall wiring much simpler!
Another branch example:
In all, about 1/3 of the foliage was removed, but most of it was inefficient, shaded out and weak.
What’s left has space in the sun, and good balance for even growth for the rest of the growing season. Here are some shots after the work:
Underside of the first left branch
Underside of the first right branch
Looking up into the tree, notice there is plenty of space for air and sunlight.
Overhead shot looking down over the tree. Good distribution.
One more shot a few days later, after foliage has had a chance to settle in again:
In the fall, the tree will be wired again, with less but similar thinning out. I’m still on the hunt for a good pot…