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Studio Stories – Japanese White Pine (Pentaphylla) First Styling

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Japanese White Pine (Pentaphylla) First Styling

I think I must have acquired this tree some 12/13 years ago. It was part of a batch of similar pines which were in deep blue plant pots. The trees were ideally suited for cultivating as garden trees in a Japanese garden setting or for training as bonsai.

This is the last remaining tree from the batch and it was potted in to this bonsai pot in theJuly 2009 008 spring of 2009. The tree grew well last year and looks a bit leggy but has good colour and strong buds.

Because of his somewhat unkempt appearance I am sure most students and visitors walk straight past him and don’t even glance in his direction…….the ugly duckling scenario springs to mind (…..would you like me to pass you a handkerchief!)

September 2013, I decided it was time to have a closer look at the tree with a view to wiring and styling into a more attractive bonsai image.

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Initially I removed any branches that I thought were surplus to requirements. Older weaker needles were also removed. The tree was now ready for wiring…..don’t all run away…..

Wired and ready for positioning the tree should hopefully look a little more straight forward…….at first glance here it looks like a load of octopuses are having a brawl.

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Start with the lowest branch and work your way up. A new front has been selected to take into account the position of the major branches and a wider nebari.

There are several, probably too many heavy branches near the apex but there is a large space in the lower section of the tree. One of these branches will have to be brought down to try and solve both problems.

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Most students struggle with the apex when styling their own trees. It is a case of finding the right line and then relating everything to it. There seems to be a lot left at the top but nothing is cut off. It all falls into place and then any corrections required to the branches already placed can be undertaken.

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The tree is now well on it’s way to making a classic Japanese white pine image. The two lowest branches are optional….they could be removed to expose more of the trunk and still retain a good profile…that decision will rest with the eventual new owner.

If the tree is still with us in Spring we will probably repot to sort out the new front and toIMG_2113 IMG_2117 improve the roots around the base of the tree. I could remove a lot of the needles and fine tune the foliage clouds to obtain a more pristine final photographic image but the tree’s health and wellbeing is more important than my ego!

It’s nice to think another ugly duckling is on the road to becoming a swan and I am sure he will now turn a few heads in the polytunnel………I am the one who said I didn’t name my trees ………the elbow….stag….dancer…….duckling…..swan……maybe I need to start taking the tablets again……….