So, my plan was to clean up, pull needles, prune, and wire this tree so it would be ready to tweak when Bjorn visited in December. This tree has been all my work since it’s initial styling with a buddy in 2007, and I thought it would be a good time to take the tree from the best I could do with it, to the best I could do with it…with Bjorn.
So here it is, Before:
What did we do?
Guy wires, exaggerating the downward angle of the branches, including the upper right, to reduce the separation between the first layer and second layer. Subtle, but nice.
Balance each tuft of foliage so they’re the same size and mass.
Evenly distribute each tuft so they’re equidistant.
Create subtle separation of layers within primary branches.
Rearrange the position of each tertiary branch so they fan outward, and then together, overlapping on or maybe two tufts from the branch behind into the branch in front. (Photo)
Round out the apex
Still to do: let the left upper section elongate.
Keep the first left branch shorter.
Replace branches at obtuse angles with branches at acute angles.
This tree is the subject of my book, a pictorial cause-effect book showing how to develop a JBP Bonsai. This represents its 10th year of training as a bonsai, after purchasing it from Brussel’s in 2007 for $350. It was candles cut later than normal this summer to make the second flush of needles shorter. Once the growing season was finished, (new needles set firmly in their fasicles) it was time to thin out needles, prune, and wire. In mid-November:
Needles pulled, and lightly pruned over Thanksgiving:
Wiring the fine branches, starting at the bottom…
And working my way up…
To the top…
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.