Advanced wiring: using "fishhooks"

Adair M

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I've posted these pictures on a couple other threads, but they will eventually get buried... So I thought I'd make this one to document how to do "detail" wiring. These are the smaller wires that control the last couple of inches of branch, and set the tip ends to make pads.

Usually most wiring discussions focus on bending heavy branches in curves, or bring branches "down". This one is different. It's about wiring needles!

Let's get started...

The tree: a Formal Upright Japanese Black Pine. It's just been decandled, and some needles pulled. Old wire has been removed. It was last wired about 5 years ago, and the new growth was going straight up. So, it's time to begin wiring:

image.jpeg

For this discussion, we will be using the bottom left branch. See how the branch comes off the trunk at a slightly downward angle? Then about 2 inches from the end, it turns up? That's where the old wire ended. That's what this thread will bid about, how to wire that last little bit.

No need to apply heavy wire to move the branch, it's set at a good angle. The secondary branches need wire to provide good anchors for the detail wires. All the small branches on this tree are soft and supple. A benefit of using organic fertilizer.

The tree after the two bottom branches are wired:

image.jpeg

Eventually, the entire tree will get this treatment.

Oh... This work was done right after decandling. That's a good time to wire. It looks kind of sparce because the needles on it are one year old, and are getting kinda tired. They'll be pulled in November.

Lets take a closer look at the left branch from above:

image.jpeg

Focus in to the ends of the branches. They're wired with copper, mostly 16 gauge. That's usually the smallest I ever use on JBP. this tree is pretty refined, so there are some smaller, finer branches, and for those I use 18. (For White pine, generally the smallest is 18, and occasionally I'll use 20.)

See how the ends of the wires curl under the bases of the needles? That's the "fishhook".

Many people, when they get to the end of the branch, spiral it out, then cut the wire off flush to the twig. Or, they leave a long section of wire sticking out into space. Don't do either of those. Take the time to form the little loop that goes under the base of the needles, and cradles them. Finish by turning the hook up and back. Then cutting the excess off.

Turning the hook up and back supports the needles on the bottom, preventing them from pointing down when the twig is bent into a horizontal position.

Look at the branch from the side:

image.jpeg

You really don't see them! Curling the ends of the hook back, the cut ends are pointed back at the trunk. The cut ends are shiny and reflective. And will catch your eye. Curling them back prevents your eye from noticing them.

So... The fishhook goes under the needles, then curled around supporting them, then turns back towards the trunk, and sweeps up a bit. It actually extends out farther than the woody part of the branch, then curls back.

One last benefit of the fishhook... When it's time to remove the wire, the end of the wire is easy to grab with the pliers and unspin it. Yes, I do unspin the wire. I don't cut it in little chunks. We can discuss that in another thread. Let's keep this one on the little hooks.

You do the same thing with all species you wire, not just pines.
 

vicn

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Great article. Well explained, and the pics amplified the content. Thanks for an all-around good job!
 

Adair M

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Adair I don't do pine, but this excellent demonstration applies to any tree. THANKS
You're right, Doug. It is used with any tree.

This technique is particularly useful with pines. Many people (and I will include myself in this category, until I learned this technique) falsely assumed that the tips of pines should be wired with the tips facing up, or at least at an upward angle, to prevent "hanging" needles. Or, they would pull the hanging needles.

I might also mention that the tree I used to demonstrate the technique is an advanced tree well into the "Refinement" Phase. With lots of tips. Each new shoot is rather small and has maybe a dozen pair of needles. If, instead, you're wiring a long shoot with needles that span a 4 or 5 inch long length of stem, you can't avoid having downward needles, unless you pull them. Such a tree would be in the "Development" Phase, not "Refinement".
 

LeonardB

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Adair,
Just trying to understand refinement a little more deeply. You mention decandling ( second to last detail ). Did that include removing new growth and leaving last years growth to stand alone ( it looks like old growth removed entirely )?
Regards,
Leonard
 

barrosinc

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Adair,
Just trying to understand refinement a little more deeply. You mention decandling ( second to last detail ). Did that include removing new growth and leaving last years growth to stand alone ( it looks like old growth removed entirely )?
Regards,
Leonard
you remove all new growth in summer.
Here is a ton of info https://bonsaitonight.com/tag/decandling/
 

Adair M

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Adair,
Just trying to understand refinement a little more deeply. You mention decandling ( second to last detail ). Did that include removing new growth and leaving last years growth to stand alone ( it looks like old growth removed entirely )?
Regards,
Leonard
Leonard, there are two good times of the year to wire JBP. The absolute best time is late fall after the new shoots that came in after summer decandling have stopped extending, and the new needles have hardened off. At that time, we pull old needles, thin the new shoots to two, and wire.

The other good time is right after decandling. The pictures on this thread were taken in June, right after cutting (decandling) the current year's spring candles. So, in these pictures, all you see are old needles. After these pictures were taken, new shoots came out over the summer.

I was only able to wire two or three branches when I was at Boon's last June, so I finished wiring the tree in November. So, at that time, I pulled the old needles. All the needles you see in these pictures were pulled because by November, the second flush of needles had come in.
 

Adair M

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Jonas has been a Boon student for over 20 years. He has wonderful JBP.
 

Adair M

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If I may add a little to the thread:

Look at the first picture, the one taken from above the branch. You will also notice fishhooks about half way down several of the longer secondary branches. Those are where I ended using heavy wire, and transitioned to thinner wire. As I was wiring, and the wire started becoming too large, I would take it out 1 and 1/2 turns past a V, and curl it under, and make a hook. Then the lighter wire would begin back at the V, and continue on past the end of the heavy wire, on out the branch. Sometimes, I would have to do the same thing with it, and stop it short, and start another even thinner wire.

Doing this correctly means that I might have two wires placed side by side, one larger, one smaller.

The goal is to use as little wire as possible.

Here is the tree, fully wired out:

IMG_0567.JPG

Notice, the bottom branches have needles that are growing more straight up! The top 2/3 have needles cradled with fishhooks.

The top 2/3 was wired in November 2016, the bottom branches in June 2016 after decandling. The new summer shoots grew straight up. On both the lower wired branches, as well as the upper unwired ones. During the November wiring, the upper branches were laid out flat like the June branches were. When the new shoots came out in Spring 2017, they were all vertical.
 

GrimLore

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Notice, the bottom branches have needles that are growing more straight up! The top 2/3 have needles cradled with fishhooks.

The top 2/3 was wired in November 2016, the bottom branches in June 2016 after decandling. The new summer shoots grew straight up. On both the lower wired branches, as well as the upper unwired ones. During the November wiring, the upper branches were laid out flat like the June branches were. When the new shoots came out in Spring 2017, they were all vertical.
Not odd to me but oddly to others most types of Cotoneaster behave the same way with their leaf. I have been since carefully studying other plants here since. Thank you for posting this!

Grimmy
 

Adair M

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I’ll add a bit about pad design:

If you look at the picture of the branch from above, you should notice that all the secondary and tertiary branches emerge at at fairly sharp angle from the branch they’re attached to. That is to say, no right angles.

I have seen many poorly designed trees where the sub-branches were wired out to emerge at 90 degrees. These always end up being way too broad.
 

Adair M

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Here is an update:

Picture taken this morning.:

AC0903F0-629D-40B7-A0A1-CF9FAF9636E7.jpeg

And an edge on view of the lowest branch on the left:

CA0AD36D-67B4-4090-95EC-AAA2DB40D761.jpeg

Notice the natural upward tilt of the bundles of needles. They naturally grew in this way after I had decandled last year, summer of 2017.

I decandled again this year, about a month ago, so it is still rather sparce. The new buds have emerged, but have not extended yet. When they do, they will grow up nearly vertical.

The key is to wire them out to be horizontal, and let the tree naturally provide the upward tilt.

With the wire, we are placing the “bones” in place. The foliage will grow out and flesh out the bones.
 
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