Time for pines

Autumn is one of the times of the year when work on pines can safely be undertaken. So thinking ahead, which is a novelty for myself, I took a pine to a club meeting earlier this year where we had a guest speaker hoping to get some guidance on styling it.

The tree in question is owned by the widow of a previous club member and had had nothing done to it for about eight years and was therefore quite leggy and weak. Approximately two years ago I got involved in it’s rejuvenation, repotted it and removed what were obviously dead branches. Since then it has been watered and fed with a bit of tomato food by it’s owner and it is now healthy enough with some back budding and ready to style.

During the review of the pine the speaker removed a number of the weak and unwanted branches and commented on options for styling. Ultimately a literati style appeared the most suitable, but this would involve removal of a significant lower branch seen on the right of the trunk.

My dilemma was that this was not my tree, and even though I thought that a literati  was the correct option I was apprehensive about taking off a branch which was a major part of the tree.

I had to discuss this with the owner and ask for her thoughts. So how do you describe literati to someone who has no knowledge of bonsai or the recognised styles, a slim stragley trunk with foliage on top does not sound great. Regardless of my reluctance the decision was left with myself.

I made the decision, A LITERATI STLYE BONSAI.

I explained that a lot of the older needles would be removed in order to promote further back budding. This appeared strange to her and I explained that in nature the older needles fall naturally after a few years.

Back to our club in August and a bit of a discussion for reassurance. Then to start what I hoped would be a transformation and not a disaster.

First the needle plucking session. This can be done in two ways, either trim the older needles with scissors leaving short stubs which will quickly die off, a good method if you are inexperienced as there is less risk of damaging the buds which are at the base of these needles. Alternatively pluck the needles out completely by hand, the method I used in this case. Hopefully some new buds will develop early next year.

Next the wiring of the branches I envisaged using.

Finally I had put off removing the lower branch until now. This is something which I really thought about and is something that I found really difficult when I started bonsai as do a lot of enthusiasts. As far as I know you can’t just stick branches back on. (Must check that.)

Well the initial work is done, let it recover and find a nice pot. Is it an improvement? I think so and hope that it’s owner does.