Cork Bark Monterey Pine Literati

grouper52

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Well, since my hornbeam failed to evoke even a single response, :confused: let me try again with another conifer. :D

I thought I would start a thread on this tree, which I plan to refine over the next few years. This tree is reputed to be about 60+ years old, apparently collected, in training since 1980 down in California. I got it this spring. It had supposedly been redesigned in 2005, but the unkempt status of the pruning and branch wiring pointed to at least 5-6 years of neglect the way I calculated it.

Anyway, it was not too attractive, so for this year I wanted to simply wire in some better structure to the branching pattern in anticipation of further such work over the next season or two. Some of the foliage will also simply have to go eventually, thinning and shaping the crown into a more attractive presentation, but for now I merely worked with what was there. Inducing some back budding has been fairly rewarding, which should broaden my possibilities later. I hope to use the foliage to visually soften the rather straight trunk.

You may note that the cork bark is much more prominent on the branches than the trunk, similar to some winged species. And for those wondering how stable this is in such a small pot, the base is VERY heavy, and has only tipped over once in a strong wind, the tree remaining entirely unharmed. :)

Enjoy.
 

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RyanFrye

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Very Nice. I like the potential in this one. Even its current state it makes me jealous! I'm pretty much a pine noob...is it normal for the needles to be that shade of yellow-ish green?
 

grouper52

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Very Nice. I like the potential in this one. Even its current state it makes me jealous! I'm pretty much a pine noob...is it normal for the needles to be that shade of yellow-ish green?

Thanks, Ryan. The needles are a very light green, and a little yellow, but the photo made them look even more yellow. They have also greened up a little bit since the photo was taken a few months ago, and I'm hoping they look even better over the next few years with better care.
 

Vance Wood

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Personally from my point of view, which for some means nothing, I would consider thinning out some of the branching to give the tree a little lighter feeling and reveal a bit more of the upper trunk. As is the case with a lot of trees with some spectacular features we are loath to eliminate some of them to make the tree better. JMHO, keep in mind that the literati form is supposed to tell a story using as few elements as possible, and I do think the top of the tree could be thinned out a bit and improve the over all artistic quality of this wonderful little tree.
 

grouper52

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Personally from my point of view, which for some means nothing, I would consider thinning out some of the branching to give the tree a little lighter feeling and reveal a bit more of the upper trunk. As is the case with a lot of trees with some spectacular features we are loath to eliminate some of them to make the tree better. JMHO, keep in mind that the literati form is supposed to tell a story using as few elements as possible, and I do think the top of the tree could be thinned out a bit and improve the over all artistic quality of this wonderful little tree.

I agree completely, Vance. That's why I mentioned my plans to do exactly that in the initial post. ;) Just wanted to start the thread as it is now, so the progression over time makes sense. It needs to be thinned and shaped extensively. No need to qualify such insightful commentary with "JMHO", IMHO. :)

It touches on one interesting point about the tree, which is the rather stark contrast (I was going to use the old favorite, "juxtaposition", in there, but decided to give it a rest :) ), as I was saying, the rather stark contrast between the very straight trunk and the suddenly very gnarly branches. A whole huge mass of them like this just looks wrong, in addition to it not looking very attractive. To pull off that sudden transformation in the tree's growth habit in a convincing way will be the main challenge with this tree. It may never quite tell a convincing story, but I'd at least like it to look visually pleasing in perhaps an abstract way.

The branches were obviously wired extensively from a young age, then about 5-6 years ago that training stopped, leaving long straight branches jutting out all over when I got it. Correcting that and re-positioning some of the old main branches and secondary branches in anticipation of later thinning was all I did this year.

My thoughts are to capitalize, perhaps, on the two main, oldest/largest branches, leaving some or much of the remaining branches as gnarly jin. Two (or three) areas of fairly sparse foliage could accomplish exactly what you have suggested, and may even tell a somewhat believable story of a tree that grew unhindered in its early years, which then met with conditions that broke the leader and caused a more contorted growth in the remaining somewhat low branches. At least it won't just look like a congested pom pom of foliage on a straight trunk! :eek:

Thanks for the comments, Vance.

Will
 

Vance Wood

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I look forward to your efforts here. I have a Shimpaku that has many of the same problems that I am looking to make more believable.
 

mcpesq817

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Cool looking tree. Thanks for sharing.
 

irene_b

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Will, your trees are always worth a look over and I do enjoy them all.
Irene
 

Attila Soos

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A round, dish-like pot, with outward-curving lips, would be a better choice.

Interesting tree, I agree that you need to create a thinner foliage with some kind of direction and theme.
 

grouper52

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Update. Not much change, but some new devlopments.

New candles extending, some nice back budding in places. Repotted into new pot and MUCH better soil. (yuch!) Took off wire, started a few jins.

Some direction in terms of eliminating about half the foliage is beginning to become clear, to make this into more of a traditional literati. May wait to do that at the end of this season when dormant.
Then, needle reduction techniques for a few years should bring this guy along nicely.
 

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grouper52

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Another update, after more thinning. Less will still be more, but for now I'll let it rest and recuperate a bit.
 

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Si Nguyen

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Fantastic!! I love this sparse windswept look. The pot looks a bit too small though, maybe it is just the photo angle.
Si
 

HotAction

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It's really starting to come along nicely. Keep up the good work.

Dave
 

grouper52

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One thing I like about bonsai is that if I mess with a tree long enough, it'll often almost die on me, leaving just enough to go forward, and usually then relieving me of the necessity of deciding what excess growth to remove.

Case in point: This guy. Soon after my last photo, the entire top and part of the lower branch died, but a few areas on the lower part survived, turning it into a much more attractive tree in the process.

I'll thin out the jins and start to refine the areas of foliage next season, but for now I'm just enjoying my good luck to have been left with such a promsing tree, rather than a dead one.
 

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mcpesq817

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Nice work! Always great when nature helps decide what course to take to style the tree :D

I've got a collected Douglas Fir that I got in a workshop a couple of weeks ago that I'm working into a very similar style.
 
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