Pinus Nigra Log-In-A-Pot Project


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Port Orchard, WA
I got this Austrian Black pine in the spring of 2008 at a nearby nursery where the owner grows all her own stuff off site from seeds and cuttings - no grafts, and no brushing or trimming of back buds off the lower trunk! The first photo shows it in the black plastic grow bag it came in, about 12 feet tall.

The next photo shows why I bought it. Besides the beautiful bark and base, which would not have been worth anything by themselves, the tree had a number of little back bud shoots down low! With those, I could do someting with this otherwise uninteresting "log in a pot".

I chopped it, and wired some gnarliness into those lower branches after those first two photos, and left it alone until late last fall, at which time I transfered it into a deep mica grow pot with good bonsai soil, and started trimming the branches a bit at that time. It has looked tempting all winter, and today I decided to take it the next step, with further branch trimming and wiring, and cleaned up the foliage a bit for the photo.

Much remains to be done in terms of the deadwood at the top and in other locations, as well as further selection, placement and refinement (especially needle shortening techniques) of the foliage areas, but still, the basic idea is now apparent. I'll post more as I work on it.


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HOLY SH..!! Log-in-a-pot. :eek:
Fascinating ! From twelve feet how much is left? This will make a great progressive study. Keep us posted.
Hi Grouper, that's an awesome stump! It is still too tall though. You should go shohin all the way! Can't wait to see your carving of all that deadwood.
Good luck with it!


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Hi Grouper, that's an awesome stump! It is still too tall though. You should go shohin all the way! Can't wait to see your carving of all that deadwood.
Good luck with it!

Thanks everyone.

Great virt, Si Nguyen, and you are right about the height. It has about a 6" base, and according to the rules ("Rules? We don't have no Rules. We don't need no stinking Rules!") it ought to stand about 36" tall.

Even with some extra left on the top for now, it stands 30", but I agree it will look even better much shorter - there's a pretty good possibility I may even stump it on down to real sumo dimensions, perhaps just allowing bark only as far up as the bark looks really good - about 12" - with some fragmented, fractured deadwood snags up a bit higher, and perhaps the deadwood extending down along one side.

Even if the top remains fairly high, all that foliage at the top may go, though it then leaves a long stretch with only a wee bit of foliage on two lower branches that I've bent into upward growing branches: I may leave that configuration, frequently seen in nature, of mostly old branches hanging down but with one or two still trying for apical growth as the tree dies from the top down. Or I may just go for the gusto with a stumpy sumo, or a lot of jagged deadwood as in your fine virt.

My habit is to just sit with a tree like this a while until the decision pops out at me. Some great beer, perhaps with friends, may certainly prod that process along when the time comes! I'll re-post then.

Certainly other virts are welcome if folks want to play with this one. Almost anything is fair game, but please just don't put a green helmet on it! :D
Hi Grouper, very nice tree. Will be looking forward to future updates. I bought a similarly sized JBP (about 10' tall that I cut back to about 5', with a 6" base and pretty good taper and movement) on winter clearance from my local nursery this past November. Unlike yours though, I'll probably have to do some approach grafts to get branches closer in to the trunk and lower in some areas.
Hey Will,
A nice looking piece of material and also an interesting concept which we could be discuss over that beer you mentioned….perhaps in Seattle in Sept?
If that tree was in nature and alone on a hill it would be living without competition thus the limbs would be big, heavy and widespread, if grown within a forest concept (with competition from its neighbors) then the tree would be branchless for a considerable height?
Very nice log! :)

I like your plans with this one, especially waiting until something pops out at you. Looking forward to seeing it in the future!
It looks damn nice right now, but if you do not want to waste another 2 years on it, I know of a guy in Ohio who would pay for the shipping to get it off your hands.... :)

Great tree my friend.

Looking really nice. That's some fantastic backbudding that you got there.
Looks like it's really happy! I really love the way it looks. I bought a pinus Nigra last year without knowing much about them and didn't find many good examples of them as bonsai, but this gives me a lot of hope. One thing I noticed is that they bud from older wood very easily...though the tree I have is still relatively young and that may have something to do with it.
Thanks everyone. Yes, the ability of this tree to throw off low back buds was its main redeeming quality. Fortunately, there are a number if little private nurseries in this area where the owners grow their own stock, and don't bother to "pretty up" the trees by always brushing off such such back buds down low.
Thanks, Paul and Walter. I always like the challenging material the best. :)
I was wondering about trunk chopping pines and how they responded.
Thank you for sharing this project
Possible shohin?

Hi Grouper, that's an awesome stump! It is still too tall though. You should go shohin all the way! Can't wait to see your carving of all that deadwood.
Good luck with it!

Taking your 12' tree to shohin should be a feat. Kids and I went Yamadori hunting yesterday. What do you think are my chances of getting this to back bud?


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