Don't really like Japanese Black Pines

Joe Dupre'

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Not knocking them or the people who like them, but they really don't do anything for me. They seem to be THEE tree to have if you are a true bonsai person. To me, the foliage always seems to look too large for the tree. I know the needles can be made smaller over time, but in the meantime, the tree looks pretty shaggy. Some of the really big, well-done specimens look "OK" but still not to my taste. Well, I guess that's why they make chocolate and vanilla.........and strawberry swirl and.....................OOOooooo.. butter pecan!
 

penumbra

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Not knocking them or the people who like them, but they really don't do anything for me. They seem to be THEE tree to have if you are a true bonsai person. To me, the foliage always seems to look too large for the tree. I know the needles can be made smaller over time, but in the meantime, the tree looks pretty shaggy. Some of the really big, well-done specimens look "OK" but still not to my taste. Well, I guess that's why they make chocolate and vanilla.........and strawberry swirl and.....................OOOooooo.. butter pecan!
I would have to say that I agree, kind of. Part of that is because I know I will not have 20 - 30 years to devote to a tree. Developing a black pine could be a career by itself. But honestly, some of the worlds greatest bonsai are Japanese black pines. If it comes to pines, Japanese White are my favorite. I also love Scots pines and though I don't have any yet, Jack pines and Pitch pines.
On the other hand, I really love working with spruce and fir.
and .... almost anything Hagen Das.
 

Adair M

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Not knocking them or the people who like them, but they really don't do anything for me. They seem to be THEE tree to have if you are a true bonsai person. To me, the foliage always seems to look too large for the tree. I know the needles can be made smaller over time, but in the meantime, the tree looks pretty shaggy. Some of the really big, well-done specimens look "OK" but still not to my taste. Well, I guess that's why they make chocolate and vanilla.........and strawberry swirl and.....................OOOooooo.. butter pecan!
Everyone is entitled to their own preferences. But, JBP respond very well to bonsai techniques.

Here is one of my shohin. Not a “spectacular” tree, but I think it’s respectable:

C41370C8-B220-4B53-9B26-780CBC38EC29.jpeg
 
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Not a “spectacular” tree
I don't know much, but that looks more than respectable to me. Everything a shohin should be. I would be thrilled to have such a tree.

JBP is a new species to me, but I did pick up some CMbonsai seedling cutting to see what could be made with them.
 

namnhi

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Everyone is entitled to their own preferences. But, JBP respond very well to bonsai techniques.

Here is one of my shohin. Not a “spectacular” tree, but I think it’s respectable:

View attachment 334138
What respectable to me is seeing you with that pink scissor. 😃
 

TN_Jim

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Joe, appreciate cajones for the decision to post this thread.

I kill pines...every single one, didn’t try again this year -well did kinda actually. Nonetheless I can keep them alive just fine at work..move away from irrigation, water lastly among all etc..

I’ve too shared these thoughts of foliage and such myself. Actually, this/that has led me to juniper species not quite desirable -well if a pine can be respected as that why not this leggy juniper be dulce leche praline gelato!!? So far parsons can reduce foliage-wise...

Eileen Knox has some pines that changed my mind a bit on it. She kinda broke my mind. I still am not rushing off to get one, I’m happy at this moment with what makes sense. Still, there is a deeper knowing and craft there beyond art I wish I was grasping, presently not.
 

Adair M

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Needs thinning and wiring. Not much taper either....
Exactly! It’s still too early in the season for that. The needles aren’t yet hardened off. The lack of taper is a real problem.

My point with posting this tree is to show how it’s possible to have short needles on a JBP.
 

Adair M

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Joe, appreciate cajones for the decision to post this thread.

I kill pines...every single one, didn’t try again this year -well did kinda actually. Nonetheless I can keep them alive just fine at work..move away from irrigation, water lastly among all etc..

I’ve too shared these thoughts of foliage and such myself. Actually, this/that has led me to juniper species not quite desirable -well if a pine can be respected as that why not this leggy juniper be dulce leche praline gelato!!? So far parsons can reduce foliage-wise...

Eileen Knox has some pines that changed my mind a bit on it. She kinda broke my mind. I still am not rushing off to get one, I’m happy at this moment with what makes sense. Still, there is a deeper knowing and craft there beyond art I wish I was grasping, presently not.
I think one of the keys to success with pines is having full sun. Trees do not need long needles to collect energy when they’re in full sun. It helps make short internodes, too. Of course, that happens when the correct bonsai techniques are applied.

I have a friend who would do all the right things, but his yard was full shade. Hus pines would grow long needles, and long internodes because the tree “was reaching out to find sunlight”.
 

Adair M

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What respectable to me is seeing you with that pink scissor. 😃
Those scissors are great! They were the hottest item at Kokofu in 2019.

One thing I really like about them is when I give classes, those scissors are distinctive, and can’t be mistaken for anyone else’s! They are much less likely to accidentally end up in someone else’s tool bag.
 

DrBonsai

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I would have to agree with Adair, JBP respond very well to Bonsai techniques and I find them very predictable.
I think a combination of its natural properties and its long time use as Bonsai has really dialed in the technique for their development.
For me the only issues I have with them is dealing with winters in Chicago. Winter storage in an unheated garage maybe not to their liking.
Others in our area like to keep them above freezing all winter, ie 35-40 degrees, and they seem to respond better.
 

plant_dr

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Those scissors are great! They were the hottest item at Kokofu in 2019.

One thing I really like about them is when I give classes, those scissors are distinctive, and can’t be mistaken for anyone else’s! They are much less likely to accidentally end up in someone else’s tool bag.
I hope you don't have a matching thong to go with them..🤮
 

Bonsai Nut

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Not knocking them or the people who like them, but they really don't do anything for me.

It isn't uncommon to have your personal favorite species in bonsai... and so the corollary would be that there will be some you like a whole lot less. I know some folks who love deciduous, and I'm not sure they have any pines at all. Ryan Neil has an extensive background with conifers, and not a lot of experience with deciduous - so I have seen him bring in visiting pros to share deciduous knowledge. I happen to dislike succulents, but some people have quite a collection.

However there is something in your statement that suggests you aren't a real bonsai person if you don't keep Japanese black pines. You shouldn't feel that way - just like you shouldn't feel bad if you don't keep huge bonsai, or shohin, or forests, or literati... I could go on and on. Do what you enjoy, and it will show in your work. If you feel "forced" to work on a tree you don't like, just because you feel it is "required" in order to be considered a true bonsai enthusiast, I doubt your tree is going to be that good :)

Though I keep a little bit of everything, every now and then I fall out of love with a tree. I usually solve the problem by putting the tree in the back of my garden and letting it grow unchecked for a number of years, or I trade it away. Never force yourself to work a tree you don't love. Sometimes I find that after a few years, the tree doesn't change, but I do, and I end up loving it again :)
 
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Joe Dupre'

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I do like conifers..........I have several junipers. No pines, though. I MIGHT take a black pine if given one or find one dirt cheap. I just don't like the foliage, the slow rate of growth or the seemingly endless road of developement. I'm spoiled by the native deciduous trees I collect which give me something that looks ALMOST finished (albeit from a distance) in one growing season. To have a tree that takes 10-15 years to just START looking like something is not in the cards for me.
 

Dav4

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Fwiw, I think you really, really better like JBP if you keep more then a few, and particularly, larger ones. I've found them to be very satisfying to work on and develop... but... they easily require twice as much work as any other species of conifer on my benches, and keeping them disease free here in N GA is a part time job all by itself.
 

Adair M

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I do like conifers..........I have several junipers. No pines, though. I MIGHT take a black pine if given one or find one dirt cheap. I just don't like the foliage, the slow rate of growth or the seemingly endless road of developement. I'm spoiled by the native deciduous trees I collect which give me something that looks ALMOST finished (albeit from a distance) in one growing season. To have a tree that takes 10-15 years to just START looking like something is not in the cards for me.
No worries, this is a hobby! Supposed to be something you enjoy spending your time doing.

I have a “how do they do that?” thing. So for me, figuring out how to make short needles, etc is part of the fun. I know a lot of people think JBP are really difficult. Way back in the day when I was first starting bonsai, I can remember people telling me that JBP were really difficult. Rather than discourage me, I took it as a challenge to learn their secrets! And now, I’m 80% pines in my collection!
 

Bonsai Nut

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Fwiw, I think you really, really better like JBP if you keep more then a few, and particularly, larger ones. I've found them to be very satisfying to work on and develop... but... they easily require twice as much work as any other species of conifer on my benches, and keeping them disease free here in N GA is a part time job all by itself.

I've still got 44 just for the JBP growing contest, and I am going to winnow down to 20 in the spring... and maybe more if I don't like how they are growing. Too many pines to care for properly. At the same time, I have equally the same number of shimpakus that I have been growing out for years... and they don't require anything other than basic horticultural care.
 

bwaynef

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I have a friend who would do all the right things, but his yard was full shade. Hus pines would grow long needles, and long internodes because the tree “was reaching out to find sunlight”.
I think you said something to the effect of "You really do know how to grow needles." (It was coming off a year of not being decandled too.). After my latest "project", if I can't get shorter needles, I may need to rethink whether bonsai is for me.

The epitome of bonsai for me is a Shohin Black Pine. I currently don't own any (shohin jbp), but I'm heading that direction slowly. There's a lot about JBP care that carries over to other trees, however indirectly. (The techniques are different, but the broader scope of work applies well for other species.)

Grow what interests you. There isn't a JBP fraternity of cool folks that throws awesome parties you're not going to be invited to because you don't grow them.
 

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