Mugo pine: suggestions sought

bonsai barry

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I purchased this mugo at a landscape nursery several months ago. Since that time I've been slowly reducing the branches, primarily to open it up some and let some sunlight into the interior. I plan on taking Vance's advice and not do any root trimming or repotting until this summer.

Meanwhile, I'm seeking ideas with what to do with it. There are two primary branches going upward, one has to go. I like the closer one the best, but I'm afraid the contrast between it and the lower portion of the trunk is too great, making it an unconvincing taper.

Any suggestions?
 

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Bonsai Nut

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Can you show the tree from a few different angles?
 

darrellw

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Hi Barry,

If Vance chips in here, certainly take anything he says over my opinion, but here is what I would do:

-Keep the first branch on the left as a sacrifice to really pump up the base.

-The first branch on the right need to go soon, since there is already a knuckle there on the trunk, and letting that branch stay will continue to contribute to that. However, it looks like you may have removed at least one other large branch at that level, so you do need to be careful. If that is the case, I would thin that branch to just one growing tip this year, cut all the green off next year, then remove it completely after it has died back.

-I don't see much problem with keeping the thinner top as the new trunk line. It has a bit of movement, should be young enough to get some back budding, and in a few years I think the transition will not be an issue.

In general, I see these mugos as 5-10 year projects. It takes 2-4 years just to get the roots sorted out and the "octopus" branching reduced/removed. Then you can really start growing the "new" tree from the base that you have set up.

-Darrell

Disclaimer: I'm only in year 2.5 with a number of these, so any statements on development beyond that is purely speculation on my part!
 
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Vance Wood

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Hi Barry,

If Vance chips in here, certainly take anything he says over my opinion, but here is what I would do:

-Keep the first branch on the left as a sacrifice to really pump up the base.

-The first branch on the right need to go soon, since there is already a knuckle there on the trunk, and letting that branch stay will continue to contribute to that. However, it looks like you may have removed at least one other large branch at that level, so you do need to be careful. If that is the case, I would thin that branch to just one growing tip this year, cut all the green off next year, then remove it completely after it has died back.

-I don't see much problem with keeping the thinner top as the new trunk line. It has a bit of movement, should be young enough to get some back budding, and in a few years I think the transition will not be an issue.

In general, I see these mugos as 5-10 year projects. It takes 2-4 years just to get the roots sorted out and the "octopus" branching reduced/removed. Then you can really start growing the "new" tree from the base that you have set up.

-Darrell

Disclaimer: I'm only in year 2.5 with a number of these, so any statements on development beyond that is purely speculation on my part!
That's pretty close to what I would do as well, but I would lose both bottom branches and turn them into Jin elements. The top is as of now in two portions. I would cut all of the growth of the left branch leaving as much of the structure of the tree (including branches) as possible, and look at the right side of the forked top as the beginnings of the new tree. This can be wired down and back budded effectively at this stage. In two to three years you will have a decent Mugo bonsai. The right side of the forked top is going to be very supple and will take almost any shape you want to give it.
 

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