My black pine

bonsai barry

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I bought this black pine (mikawa) this last spring from Muranaka Bonsai in Nipomo, CA. It was field grown and planted in this plastic tray in March. I haven't done much with it, but it has been a battle field between wooly aphids and me (I'm winning at this point in time). I've wired the lowest branch down a bit, but that's about all I've done besides removing older needles and those growing on the underside of the branch. This tree has great bark, and I hope it lives several generations longer than I do.
 

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Bonsai Nut

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I like the nice taper and the smooth line of the trunk! Start working on branch ramification and keep the top growth surpressed to keep it from running away from you. Looks like a nice start to me.
 

Brent

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I like the nice taper and the smooth line of the trunk! Start working on branch ramification and keep the top growth surpressed to keep it from running away from you. Looks like a nice start to me.
Hmmm...my first thought is that there WASN'T any taper until you get to the apex of the tree. Look at the caliper at the base above the nebari, then look at the caliper just below the chop for the apex, practically the same. That's the problem with training black pines without chopping them or using sacrifice branches. they will all look like this. I have written about and complained about this many times before. The natural habit of a black pine is to grow stove pipe straight, right out of the ground up to the top of the tree, no buttress, no taper. Unless you actively do some about this, you will never get an ancient rugged look.

A youngish looking tree, or a feminine looking tree (and there's nothing wrong with that), will be your only option without chops and sacrifices. So, if you are going to call this tree trunk finished, and it isn't in a training pot and the branches are all being finished, then you should try to enhance the trunk. The easiest way to do this is to draw the canopy in. This means much shorter branches and really tight ramification, not easy to achieve, but it can be done. The visual result will be a tall slender tree.

Understandably, most people have no conception of the magnitude of sacrifice branches necessary to achieve buttressing. Here is a typical sacrifice branch on one of my pines.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com
see our blog at http://BonsaiNurseryman.typepad.com
 

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Gnome

Mame
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Brent,

Understandably, most people have no conception of the magnitude of sacrifice branches necessary to achieve buttressing. Here is a typical sacrifice branch on one of my pines.
If I understand you correctly, the large branch on the left is only there as a sacrifice. How much longer would you leave such a branch? And is there another branch that you consider a sacrifice a little further up to continue the process? My journey into pines is just beginning and this type of discussion will be a great help to me in the future.

Norm
 

Brent

Mame
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Norm

Notice in the upper right corner of the photo, a white cable tie is marking a sacrifice branch. I have started doing this when I designate a branch to be a sacrifice so I will immediately know what to do when I can back for the yearly pruning. This way, I don't have to reinvent my design each time. Of course, when the sacrifices get really huge like the one at the base, it isn't necessary, but for smaller branches, it's easy to forget that they are sacrifices and just prune them out or back without thinking about it, then you have to start over.

Of course, rediscovering the design each time can be a good thing as a mental exercise, but I don't really have that kind of time anymore, so I only redesign after a quick hard look. If I like how it's coming along, I leave it alone. If it doesn't turn me on, I start looking at other possibilities. That's why I say leave ALL the branches that have potential for either final branches or sacrifices until the trunk is nearly finished and you are committed. I have put over ten years into some of these trees, and don't feel any hesitation in starting over by chopping back to the first branch. If they aren't heading to really good bonsai, what's the point of going on? I approach this as if I am going to live forever. I am going to be 80 by the time some of these are done, if I haven't sold them by then, but I don't care, training them is the fun for me. I actually start to get a little bored as they start to get near completion.

Sacrifice branches are left in place until 1) they are finished doing their job, or 2) they begin to cause some sort of problem such as reverse taper, or will leave too big a scar in an area that you want healed over. What do YOU think? That large sacrifice at the base is intended to create buttress, has it finished the job? Not in my book, I will probably leave it for another four or five years. This isn't even the largest sacrifice branch I have growing. You can't see it from the picture, but some of these are 8 feet long and have to be staked up. After awhile it begins to get silly and I just can't keep the trees upright anymore, so I do hack back the sacrifice to make it shorter and more manageable, but generally you don't want to touch them except to keep them from shading the 'tree'.

Brent
 

wahoo172

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sacrifice branch questions

Brent,

Thanks for posting and teaching us! How will you heal that low sutemi branch when you do finally cut it off? cut the lower half of the branch and let that part begin to heal for a year, then cut the branch off completely?
Thanks,
George
 

Brent

Mame
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George

When you have an enormous sacrifice like this, healing it over usually isn't a possibility. That's why it's so important to start sacrifice branching as early as possible, leaving more time for scar healing. The healing over process is accomplished by tissue growth around and over the cut. The only real way to accelerate this growth is to promote growth ABOVE the cut, which usually means a sacrifice branch higher in the tree. If you have enough potential sacrifice branches, you can grow them until they begin to reach a size almost too large to heal over, then cut them off and continue the job with a smaller sacrifice branch in another area.

With really huge scars, you have to incorporate the sacrifice stub or hole into the design. I think this actually enhances the design. 'Squirrel holes' in the trunk can be very intriquing. In my opinion (and Walter Pall agrees me with on this), we pay for too much attention to healing over cuts when we could be incorporating deadwood or holes into the design, even on deciduous trees. Most deciduous trees will outlive their owners with dead hollow trunks. I really like the concept of the trees aging and changing, rather than trying to keep them locked into one look.

Brent
 

paddles

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This is facinating, I have various pine seedlings, (Mostly black pines) and whilst I sort of understood the theory of sacrifice branching, I didn't really? If that make sense? Recently I was given conflicing advice about a tree seedling that I have about trimming an extended lower branch, I can see now that I should have gone with the "Dont touch theory" I didn't and trimmed the tree. Oh well, always learning, I guess.
 

wahoo172

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I see



Brent,

I agree that hollow trunks are cool and add interest to alot of trees. I do not doubt that trees with hollow trunks will live for a very long time. I was looking at an old BT magazine today that has a story about a Kimura JBP with a hollow trunk, the hollow was originally on the back of the tree. He redesigned it to show the 'defect' as an asset, it looks much better imho than the original front did.

Thanks for your insight,

George
 

Gnome

Mame
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Brent,

Notice in the upper right corner of the photo, a white cable tie is marking a sacrifice branch.
I suspected as much. It is much longer and coarser than the other branches. Thanks for taking the time to help.

Norm
 
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