Autumn pine work

The new shoots on Black pines have matured so it is time to thin out all the new shoots that have grown since decandling.

It is important to know that this is part of the technique used to REFINE MATURE pines. Younger, developing pines should be allowed to grow freely to gain strength and size and cut back hard every couple of years. Decandling is used to ramify the branches on trees that are closer to being mature bonsai.

These 2 pines were decandled in mid December – early summer – last year.

before thinning shoots

before thinning shoots

before thinning shoots

before thinning shoots

Healthy pines respond to decandling by sprouting several new buds from the base of the candles that were cut. If lots of buds are allowed to grow from one place they quickly thicken the branch at that point leaving unsightly swollen branches.

Cluster of 4 shoots after decandling last December

Cluster of 4 shoots after decandling last December

Now is the time to reduce the number of new shoots so there are only 2 shoots at any one spot.

just leave 2 shoots at each spot

just leave 2 shoots at each spot

The upper parts of most pines are stronger so where possible cut off the strongest shoots and leave 2 of the weaker ones in the strong areas.

Strong area before

Strong area before

cut off stronger shoots

cut off stronger shoots

On weaker branches and interior shoots cut out the weakest and leave some stronger shoots. The aim is to balance the vigour of the whole tree and leave all parts of the tree equally strong so that budding will be even all over next spring.

Autumn is also time to remove any older needles from the tree and reduce the number of needles on the new shoots to equalise vigour. I try to leave around 8-10 pairs of needles on each shoot but if the tree is very strong in some areas and weaker in others you can leave more in the weaker areas to help build up strength for next season.

Here’s the same tree after reducing the number of shoots and equalising needles over the whole tree. Now the tree has been thinned it is also a good time to wire any areas that need repositioning.

JBP 2B 2016 5 after

More from Pavel Slovak masterclass

As is usual at a bonsai workshop I came away with a few new ideas and techniques.

Pavel is noted for working with and, in particular, bending larger collected conifers. During the workshop he mentioned that bends are easier if you twist the branch while bending. Twisting as you bend allows the fibres in the wood to bend further without breaking.

He also mentioned that he often wraps electrical tape over the wire and raffia when making extreme bends. This serves to keep the moisture in a branch if it cracks while bending which he feels aids in healing the cracks and breaks.

Something I had not experienced before was removing ALL old needles from a pine in order to wire and shape the material. I have always attempted to retain as many old needles as possible hoping that some will produce new buds to help ramify the branching. It is certainly much easier to wire the branches without the older needles.

If anyone else has something from the recent NBPCA bonsai week feel free to let me know and I can add it here.

new catalogues

Show season is nearly over so I have managed to find some time to assemble the photos of new stock in some semblance of order for you.

I’ve changed the format a bit this year to make it a bit simpler. Hope there’s enough detail for you to make informed choices. In any case, if you need to know more about any of the trees featured just ask. I can send current photos and other views if you need to have a look from another angle or I can provide measurements if you need those.

Anyway, click on the catalogue tab and see what’s new at Shibui Bonsai.

Those who have visited will know that there is always far more than just the trees featured in the cataloges. I usually have a range of natives that are being grown on as bonsai as well as smaller numbers of garden and roadside collected specimens. If you are after something in particular it can’t hurt to ask, I may just have it here.

Wagga Wagga bonsai

The Wagga Wagga bonsai Society has contacted me to let everyone know that they are putting on a 10 day exhibition to promote bonsai in their region. The display opens on Thursday November 12 2015 at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery and runs through to Sunday November 22. Free entry and, as a bonus, the Wagga Wagga Potters club is also part of the exhibition.

If you are within reach of Wagga during that week go along and have a look. 11 days is a long time for bonsai inside. I’m told that the display will be closed on Monday 16th so they can water and work on any trees that need trimming, etc so make sure you are not traveling a long way to get there on the Monday.

And that’s not all! Grant Bowie has been booked to run a workshop on Sunday November 15th followed by a demonstration in the afternoon. You can come and see some of the techniques and ideas that go into developing really great bonsai. Observers are free so you can just turn up at E33 art space on Sunday and see what its all about.