Thinking of doing some extreme experimentation

DanS

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I have a pine that my wife surprised me with from Home Depot when I first really started looking for trees to learn on. Though the thought was very nice, the tree is not. I've been keeping it around trying to decide what I want to do with it and have decided I will use it to practice some more...extreme...techniques. I've been thinking of trying to really torture the trunk to see what it can take and what it produces. I'd like to try to make a twisted, undulating trunk. My strategy would be to start early next spring and give the trunk a good twist and try to wire it to hold the twist and to force a drastic bend, if possible, then plant it in the ground for the summer. Slowly I would like to really transform this little pine to a magnificently twisted tree overtime. Does anyone have any experience doing anything this drastic? Were you successful? Is a pine a decent tree to do this to? Is there a way to increase the chance of survival of the distal trunk/branches above the twist?

Thanks,
Dan
 

Graydon

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Sure Dan, pines are great trees to do this type of shaping. Depending on the size of the trunk (caliper) and type of pine it will work well. I would suggest getting some large diameter aluminum bonsai wire, some raffia and following the standard way of doing this :

1. Wrap the trunk in several tight layers of soaked raffia, making sure you get good coverage and consistently tight. The concept of the raffia is to protect the bark and cambium form wire bite as well as cracks and breaks.

2. Run several sections of wire along the length of the trunk as a backbone for the bend. This can be tricky and you will need a helper to hold the wire as you tie it in place with a short raffia section.

3. Wire the trunk from the bottom as usually done paying attention to anchor the wire deep in the soil at the base and to keep the wraps at a 45 degree angle and even.

Bend away! Start at soil level with your first bend and work your way up. Don't be afraid to keep going if you hear a loud pop or crack - the raffia will take care of keeping the tree parts where they need to be and sooner or later it will heal just fine. Spend time studying the future shape you want and sketch it so you have a map to follow. Or wing it - have fun.
 
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Graydon offers great advice, and ends with really great advice, have fun!

Keep us updated.


Will
 

DanS

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Thanks for the guidance! Sounds very doable and I'm excited to give this a go. Is there a better time of the year to do this for maximal survivability? I have assumed the younger and more supple the trunk the better the outcome. Is this true?

Thanks,
Dan
 

irene_b

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I have a pine that my wife surprised me with from Home Depot when I first really started looking for trees to learn on. Though the thought was very nice, the tree is not. I've been keeping it around trying to decide what I want to do with it and have decided I will use it to practice some more...extreme...techniques. I've been thinking of trying to really torture the trunk to see what it can take and what it produces. I'd like to try to make a twisted, undulating trunk. My strategy would be to start early next spring and give the trunk a good twist and try to wire it to hold the twist and to force a drastic bend, if possible, then plant it in the ground for the summer. Slowly I would like to really transform this little pine to a magnificently twisted tree overtime. Does anyone have any experience doing anything this drastic? Were you successful? Is a pine a decent tree to do this to? Is there a way to increase the chance of survival of the distal trunk/branches above the twist?

Thanks,
Dan


Hey Dan,
How about some pics so we can see the before and after.
Mom
 

Graydon

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Thanks for the guidance! Sounds very doable and I'm excited to give this a go. Is there a better time of the year to do this for maximal survivability? I have assumed the younger and more supple the trunk the better the outcome. Is this true?

Thanks,
Dan
Do it now as it sounds like you are inspired.

I'm sure there is a good time to do this and a bad time to do this but honestly I have no idea. I have done it in the spring and in the fall but never in the winter. The act of bending is not what will kill the tree, it's the slipping of the cambium that will do them in. If the cambium detaches all the way around the trunk you may have issues but mother nature is something else and things heal well if left alone.

Speaking of leaving things alone... once you bend it and you are done walk away. Don't bend it more tomorrow or a week later. Feed it well and water it well and leave it be. You should plan on a year before you remove the wire. The raffia will decompose on it's own, when it does so remove the wire.

Your assumption is correct, the younger the trunk the easier it will bend. That's not saying that older more rigid trunks can't bend, it just takes much more preparation and effort.
 

cascade

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I am not sure about what kind of pine we are talking about.I did some major bends,even very sharp ones on JBP and Slash Pine.The rate of success is higher if you do it in dormancy of the tree.In South Florida n o w is a good time for bends because of "summer" dormancy and then again in January.

If for some reason the raffia slips in a critical part and you see a bit of a crack,just lay some cotton (as in cotton balls or diapers or so)on the crack,wet it and apply raffia to hold it in place.Do not push the cotton into the crack,it need's to function as a bridge and it will do just fine.

This works with junipers too.

However,sometimes it is better to wedge than to bend.The wedges give a more sharper bend and work better on older trees.

Anyway,good luck!

-dorothy
 
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Pines are my fave as is anyone who wants to work with them. I'd love to help any way I can.
 

DanS

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Sorry for the delay. My schedule just got much more full. I'm meeting my thesis committee in a couple weeks to determine whether I can go ahead and write my thesis and defend it. So my time has been spent in lab. On top of that, my 1 year old is having major night time teething issues. So little time has been spent on my trees, unfortunately. I'll post more in a few weeks when I get the opportunity.

Thanks the advice and offers of help.

Dan
 
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Wow, you do have a full plate! Where are you in school? Ames? Good luck to you and let us know what's happening.
 
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