winter pruning

It has been some time since I posted here. Life just seems to be very busy despite Covid restrictions I have been busier than usual. Work continues and bonsai orders have increased as people look for things to do.

Winter has now arrived at Shibui Bonsai and most of the deciduous trees are bare so it is time to tackle the winter pruning. Winter trim can be done any time when the trees have no leaves but i like to get on with it as soon as possible because soon i’ll be occupied with digging the trees in the grow beds. Then those will need to be potted up and by then it will be repotting time. Now is definitely the best for me.

trident maple before winter trim

After trimming

There are always a few long shoots hiding among the leaves so they need to be shortened or removed. By the time bonsai reach this stage of development many of the branches are starting to get crowded so winter trim is also a time to thin out where shoots are crowded. I also take the opportunity to reduce long branches and apex. Cutting the main branch leader back to a suitable side shoot is the usual way to reduce length of branches.

This next tree is an older Japanese maple. This year it set a few seeds. It has flowered before but this is the first time I can remember any of my bonsai having seed.

Japanese maple before winter pruning
It has many seeds this year
after trimming

Younger trees in development are treated somewhat different to established bonsai. Usually I’m trying to increase trunk thickness or heal up previous cuts so these younger trees have usually been allowed to grow long shoots. this twin trunk trident shows the long shoots that have been left to grow.

twin trunk trident in development – before

All long shoots are pruned hard. New shoots with long internodes are also removed completely. Branches look far better when they are made from many shorter internodes so there are lots of side shoots. I also reduce clusters of shoots so those areas won’t thicken unduly next summer.

trident twin trunk after pruning

there’s still plenty of work to be done on this tree before I can call it bonsai. little by little, year after year with continued growth and pruning cycles it should evolve and improve

More on pines

After bud selecting and needle pulling on the pines I decided that some of them could do with a bit more refinement.

That meant wiring. It meant wiring almost every branch and twig on the trees. On trees like this that means quite a bit of time and a lot of wire.

Here’s a red pine that I’ve been developing for about 20 years. The trunk is good and there’s plenty of ramification on the branches but the branches and smaller twigs are still a bit wild.

Japanese red pine root over Rock

Half a day later and I’ve managed to wire almost every branch and twig. Now to try to bring some order to the branch structure.

after wiring and arranging the branches

Smaller twigs are now a little better ordered to make foliage pads. I’ve also lowered many of the branches to try to simulate increased age. The lowest branch is still a bit too straight and horizontal. It is also quite low on the trunk. maybe this tree would look better without that branch?

This little exposed root style black pine has been slowly developing over about 10 years. Branch ramification is now ready for further refinement so the entire tree was wired.

At the start of this work the tree measured 30 cm from pot to tip. I decided it might be possible to compress this one down to satisfy the requirements of the Shohin bonsai category. That means under 20 cm from the rim of the pot.

Japanese Black pine exposed root style

Guy wires to bend the trunk and thus lower the apex brought the top down to 25 cm.

Another guy wire compressed the roots a little bringing the height down to 22 cm.

A little compression of the apex branching and this tree is now just under 20cm that means it has had a 1/3 reduction in height.

Spring growth and subsequent decandling should see all the branches fill out a little more next summer and it should be ready to show.