Mugo 'Varella': When to the first hard/formative pruning

Ac1dburn

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So, I have been reading and re-reading Vance Woods article/write-up on mugos, and I have a question, that, by my reading, is not directly addressed in this otherwise absolutely excellent piece.

I bought two mugo-pines, nursery stock, of the variety 'Varella' (according to the nursery), last fall. They are basically just two balls of green, but with quite nice trunks underneath. I up-potted them into pond baskets and otherwise left them alone.

Now, I'm going to be doing some quite hard pruning and reduce up to 60-70% of the foliage, to establish the trunk-lines and main branches, but I am unsure when it is appropriate to be doing this? Mr.Wood's article seems to be directed at more established trees (that's how I read it with the 4-year cycle recommendations anyhow), that already have this type of work done on them, and so I am wondering if this is spring-type work, or later summer-time work?

I apologize if this is a trivial question, but this exact thing to me just isn't very clear.
Thank you in advance!

My mugos:

[EDIT] the insert photos didn't work with OneDrive links, so here are the galleries. I hope that is okay.
Mugo1: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=86750B3108379E01!3482&authkey=!ACIq40BT5Gtdu9I&ithint=folder,JPG
Mugo2: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=86750B3108379E01!3467&authkey=!AKs909zk5rQxxOo&v=3&ithint=photo,JPG
 

Vance Wood

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It is not a trivial question, it is actually a critical one. Before you do anything could you find a way to post some pictures that will come up on the web site. You can reduce down a tree as much as you have described but you have to do it the right way. We can discuss this as we go along but I need to see some photos. Have you looked at any of my videos?

Where do you live? Some times location is important. How much experience have you had with bonsai and Pines in particular?
 

Ac1dburn

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Damn dude, that was fast. Thank you! Yes, I'll try and get the photos inside the post right away. I have not seet your videos - where do I find them?
 

Vance Wood

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Thanks. I would like to see how they look today. You said you put them in pond basketes? That's good leave them there for at least two years. You can however start to clean them up. That's why I would like to see them as they are now. Right now they look a little yellow. Mugo tend to do this going into the winter season but I would like to see them today if that's possible.
 

Ac1dburn

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man, thanks for your time Vance. It all sounds good.
Here they are today. The are buried in the ground, though still in the pond baskets, because I do not have a whole lot of room where I live my self (I'm a balcony bonsaist for now).
Mugo One (1).JPG Mugo One (2).JPG Mugo One (3).JPG Mugo Two (1).JPG Mugo Two (2).JPG
 

Ac1dburn

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Listen to Vance, he is the Mugo master.

Aaron
Yes it certainly seems so! The article with the collection of his writings is really good, but perhaps it needs a little bit of info on how to deal with raw nursery stock. this is what I'm hoping he can help with at least :)
 

Vance Wood

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Here is one of the videos that may get you a better idea of what I do. There are many more but this is as good a place to start as any.


All of my Mugos are the fruit of the nursery trade.
 
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Ac1dburn

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Here is one of the videos that may get you a better idea of what I do. There are many more but this is as good a place to start as any.
The video looks good Vance, thank you. I'm gonna go through them and see how you do.
Regarding the time of year - when are you doing this kind of work? Is it a late summer or spring job?
 

Vance Wood

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This one was done in September, I believe I pointed that out in the Vid. Most of the time I don't do much to Mugos before the third week in June. If you prune too heavy in the spring they lose too much sap. I repot in the summer as well.
 

Ac1dburn

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Oh right. I didn't catch that in the video - perhaps I did not listen carefully enough (Sometimes when you move away form the camera it is quite difficult to hear what you say).

But great. That was the main answer I was looking for - mugos will be worked in the summer. I'll be back with updates to my trees once we get around that time.
One last question: do you have any progression albums of your mugo pine work? It would be a great source of inspiration and knowledge to see how you go from nursery stock to bonsai.

Thank you for your time and words Vance.
 

Vance Wood

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I am getting pressed on the issue of a progression album on Mugos a lot. I am thinking about it.

As to not being able to hear me when I move away from the camera. I am aware of that and I am working on using a wireless microphone if I can find a good one that does not cost me three digits.
 

Ac1dburn

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Great! I think a progression album would be so valuable for a lot of people, especially seeing as one can find pictures of our 'finished' trees floating around the internet, that are really beautiful! It would be great to see the process of those creations.
Regarding the sound on the video, I only experienced it as a problem in that first one you sent me. The rest of them you pretty much stay seated and there is no problem at all.

Good day to you!
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@Ac1dburn - Nice mugos - I would enjoy having stock like that to work on, especially "Fatty" the one with the thicker trunk. If you use the search function on this site, search for threads started by Vance Wood, you will find a few posts that do contain progressions of sorts. Some before and after, and some where a tree was photographed 5 or more years between photos. Another option is just search on Mugo pines, Vance frequently offers advice in almost every mugo thread. He will also post his own pictures to illustrate his answers in these threads. It is cumbersome way to search, a lot of reading, but you will turn up some real good nuggets of advice this way.
 

Vance Wood

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Here are three little Mugos in a row from last fall. The one on the left is just starting through a major redesign. It started out in a 3 gallon nursery pot.DSC_5726.JPG
 

Ac1dburn

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Here are three little Mugos in a row from last fall. The one on the left is just starting through a major redesign. It started out in a 3 gallon nursery pot.View attachment 97244
Those a real nice Vance. Thanks for sharing!

@Ac1dburn - Nice mugos - I would enjoy having stock like that to work on, especially "Fatty" the one with the thicker trunk. If you use the search function on this site, search for threads started by Vance Wood, you will find a few posts that do contain progressions of sorts. Some before and after, and some where a tree was photographed 5 or more years between photos. Another option is just search on Mugo pines, Vance frequently offers advice in almost every mugo thread. He will also post his own pictures to illustrate his answers in these threads. It is cumbersome way to search, a lot of reading, but you will turn up some real good nuggets of advice this way.
Yeah, these two were a pretty lucky fall-find. They were the only two left at the nursery and one was even half price. I'm sure they will be fun to work this summer. It's going to take some courage but there is good inspiration in Vance's videos too.

Thank you for the advice on searching. I have been looking around a bit on the interwebz, but have not found a whole lot. I will have to keep diggin :)
 
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