One of the things I like about bonsai and I’m sure most enthusiasts do also, is watching them progress throughout the years. Depending upon the species, some might even give more satisfaction than others as you watch your work come to fruition.
As it is with anything that’s of any kind of value, time and patience is the name of the game, and this is especially true in bonsai. Once you’ve cut a few corners in trying to speed up the process and found out that the other way would’ve probably been much better, then you’ll have finally reached that pinnacle of success where the only thing that matters for a wonderful looking bonsai is as I said, time and patience.
So once your at that point then it’s time to maybe try your hand at Japanese Black Pine bonsai. With these trees they dictate the time, and you must have the patience. There are only three main things that have to be done with JBP, and that is repotting, candle pruning, and needle pulling and if need be, branch pruning. These three things have to be done on schedule with no room for exceptions.
In late winter or early spring, depending upon where you live in the U.S. will be the time to repot taking caution of course with the low temps that might come and go at times.
Next will be the decandeling process which is again dependent on where you live. Southern states such as Texas where I live, early to mid July is the time. Northern states will go anywhere from late May to mid June.
The final Item will be needle pulling which will start in late October all the way to mid February if need be.
Okay so let’s look at some progressions for this first part. These first few trees were given to me by someone who started them from seed. They were around two to three yrs. old at the time, and that was in 2009. I don’t think the person who started had a design in mind because of the way they were trained, or should I say untrained.
This first pic shows just exactly what I had to work with. Doesn’t look like much does it? For this reason I decided this one and the following one would be shohin size since the trunk was laying more or less down low and had branches going everywhere, and the next one as you will see, was pretty much the same.
Pic two shows the best I could get out of that tangled mess. Again, it leaves a lot to be desired I know, but you must look down the road a bit and trust your ability to improve on it in time, with the proper training.
This next pic doesn’t show much improvement for one years time, but you can tell it is very healthy and growing like it should.
Finally a little light at the end of the tunnel, as we are now starting to show some improvement with a little branch structure beginning to take shape. This pic was taken last year in 2011.
But now look at it this year just before the fall work has begun. The summers decandeling brought forth many new buds therefore giving me much to choose from for new branch structuring.
And finally the little shohin maybe has a future. It won’t be much but it will be fun to work with and make something out of almost nothing.
This next little guy isn’t much different than the first one. Notice it too had a wild beginning with foliage going everywhere and no design whatsoever. So again I had to do the best I could with what I had, which wasn’t very much.
After contemplating until I could do no more, this is what I ended up with, something that probably anyone else would just toss in the garbage.
So about a year later the tree is progressing good with healthy new candles, but not much going for it in the design deptartment. Also, do you notice the roots protruding out from the collander? Here in Texas where the summers are horrendous with heat for such a long period of time and the fact that JBPs must be in full sun, this guy and a few others were sitting in a shallow tray of water and they just loved it. With the proper soil, this doesn’t hurt the tree one bit. I’m not encouraging others to do this because their different climate zones would probably not need this type of care for their trees.
Here we are now with the fall 2012 work done on this one and as you can see it’s really improving a lot. Not enough to make it a great shohin, something I’m sure it will never be, but something I can look back and say I created with time and patience.
Next time I’ll have a few more progressions, some with finished JBP.