Variegated Pieris Japonica

Drewski

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Picked up this pieris at a local nursery today. I’ve cut off a few branches that were definitely not going into the final design, but am now going to take the next bit slower. The first four pictures are just rotating the tree, the fifth picture is in the approximate neighborhood of the front, and the sixth picture is showing the four branches that will have to get reduced down to two. I’m leaning heavily towards taking out the middle two, but haven’t made up my mind yet.
 

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Drewski

Mame
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Well, I made up my mind and took out the two middle branches. You can see a lot more of the interior now. I was thinking that I would leave the two remaining branches as twin trunks. The right one would be the primary, while the left would be shortened to be the secondary. What I’m pondering now is how tall do I want this be. It’s my understanding that pieris can take a hard pruning. So what do folks around here think? I’d like to hear where my fellow Nuts would cut this down to.
 

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0soyoung

Imperial Masterpiece
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It looks lanky to me. I'd rather the top of the tree is about where all (but one of) the branches originate. But that would take a lot of chopping and time to grow new branches after praying for buds where one would want them (lots of time :mad:).

What you've got now has the expressiveness of a cheer leader for me = arms with pompoms raised (right and left lower branches) and wearing a Carmen Miranda fruit-bowl hat (I often anthropomorphize and it seems to be a normal human thing to do when looking at bonsai). I see two branches heading up to that fruit-bowl of foliage that are basically parallel (not good) and seemingly the same length (not good). In other words, the whole composition is very symmetric along the axis of the upper part of the trunk (and generally speaking, we do not like symmetry in bonsai).

So, I suggest that you focus on lowering and reducing the size/weight of the fruit-bowl of foliage and in the process, make those two branches seem different. Keep some foliage on both of them, just not the exact same amount on each and not the same height - make them look different, but in a way that you (at least kinda) like. Then see what happens with back budding. Another thing you might explore is wiring and bending branches. This year's shoots certainly could be wired and bent into lots of trajectories, but they quickly get to be too stiff and/or brittle in another year. Also, like just about any other species the connection of this year's growth to the 'old wood' is fragile = it is easy to break off new shoots). Anyway, they are things to do to find out what you can and cannot readily do with it.

And keep thinking about what you want me (or someone else) to see. What is interesting about the tree? Frame the feature with foliage. Almost always the nebari is a big deal in bonsai, so we almost always want the foliage not too far above the ground. This almost always draws attention to the lower trunk, hence the reason most bonsai are about the trunk (movement, bark, shari, etc.). Of course there is the opposite, literati form where the focus is in the interesting/attention-getting movement of the trunk with foliage positioned to emphasize aspects of the movement. Look at your tree and take note of where you tend to focus your attention, then analyze it = this is cool, but its is too far above the ground or it just doesn't fit with what is going on with the trunk --> then what would fit with the trunk and how would you make it over the coming years. And, somehow I have failed to mention until now that the tree can be planted on a different inclination (which may be helpful, I dunno).
 

Drewski

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Well, the two trunks aren’t the same height anymore at least. 😉 I can see this becoming a smaller tree in time, provided it gives me some back budding. Some of the foliage still needs to be reduced, so there aren’t clusters of three or more , but that will wait for another evening. A couple of branches broke. One couldn’t be saved, and you can see the stump in the upper left. The other one didn’t break as bad, so I put some sealant on it and will wait to see if it survives.
 

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Drewski

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Sorry about not getting back to you sooner. Unfortunately this one is no longer with me. I had bought way too many trees, more than I could realistically keep on my balcony. So this one didn’t make the cut. However, I can tell you that after the pruning I did it had started to back bud nicely. That’s about all I can offer up.
 
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