We have all the main pine bonsai here as they give variety, they all basically require different methods and techniques to maintain and it also spreads the workload over several months. If all the trees were the same type I'd have loads of repetitive work to do!
Today the black pine and red pine were looking perfect to start the decandling process.
The point of cutting the first shoot off is to cause a second set of smaller buds to form that will give finer growth, to hopefully produce several buds in one place so we can select the best ones, to trigger back budding so we can make the tree appear denser and to eventually give strong inner branches that we can cut back to.
The picture above shows the needles extending from the sheaths and beginning to point out away from the shoot.....this is the time I remove all the medium and weakish ones, but not the extremely weak or the very strong
The strong shoots are left on the tree for the next two weeks.........
Because the strong shoots are in place the tree will not try to form new buds here, but in all the cut areas we have triggered the budding and back budding process. As we know bonsai is not calendar lead but dictated by the trees so I expect to remove the strong shoots in 2 weeks time, but if the weather turned colder than expected I would add a few more days to the waiting time.
In the top picture are two different sets of shoots. The pale ones are red pine and these trees are treated the same as the Japanese black pine. This tree was quite balanced so it had very even strength all over, probably due to the fact it came directly from japan this winter, so all the shoots apart from any tiny weak inner shoots were cut off. In the picture below I'm working up the tree
Here's the black pine
The black pine has taken 3 years to become strong enough after purchase to even consider candle cutting. It was in poor condition as far as strength goes - pale, leggy, terrible soil so very poor roots etc. with hindsight I made a mistake and styled the tree straight away so it had a poor year following the wiring until I could repot it into a proper soil mix . Not candle cutting after the repot and not needle plucking either was the quickest way to help the tree recover, needles photosynthesise and this feeds the tree. The energy generated by foliage strengthens roots, and as the roots were poor the tree needed foliage to aid recovery. The feed pellets we designed have helped a lot too, the tree has bounced back and now we can begin the refining. The pellets are reduced now but the tree gets a fish emulsion drench every week.
We sold a proper white pine this week, and I had the option to make a few improvements before delivering it so out came the power saw. ......... It was a grafted white on black, we'll over 50 years old lovely twist in the trunk but still had the big low branch in place, now styled into a pad. These low branches on grafted pines are there to keep the trunk taper on course so you don't see a big ugly step down, but this one was right inside the curve and it had already well and truly done its job so it was time to come off
I've had this tree here 16 months on and off so you get used to seeing the older image but a couple of buyers came to the garden and loved the tree without the branch
The Peter Adams workshop scots pine is off to a new owner tomorrow so being a different species it is not candle cut like the trees we started with. It will make new buds if we cut off a whole shoot but it will not open this year so the tree would have no 2014 needles and a pine needs some needles from every year. The strong shoots were shortened and that is all that needs doing, basically I balance the shoots across the whole tree