The black pines have been growing slower than usual after summer decandling. It is possible that is a response to less fertiliser than previous years. I am pleased to have small buds on these pines but I’ll try to feed more often through next winter and see if that makes a difference next summer.
Here are the clusters of buds that are growing after candle pruning in mid December (early summer here). Note that these summer buds do not have the bare ‘neck’ that the stronger spring candles have. Not having bare sections means I can have much more compact growth and better ramification. Needles should also be smaller on these smaller buds which will add to the impression of a mature tree.
Towards the end of summer I will reduce the number of buds in these clusters. Like all bonsai I try to only have 2 shoots at any place on the tree to reduce the chances of bulges and inverse taper in the trunks and branches.
I have mentioned before that decandling is only used on more mature trees. For the trees that are developing, where I want the trunks to thicken as rapidly as possible I allow them to grow freely for 1-2 years then prune back hard to the lower needles. Pruning like that also triggers new buds to grow from the remaining needles and those new buds can be used for either a new growth cycle if the tree still needs to grow or to start making branches.
If pruning is done in autumn or winter the new buds will grow in spring and are usually strong. If pines are pruned in summer the resulting buds will be smaller and more compact similar to the ones that grow after summer candle cutting.
These pictures show the shoots that have grown after winter hard pruning on 2 of the developing pines at Shibui Bonsai. You can see that these shoots are quite strong but have plenty of needles close to the base that will give me somewhere to prune to next time.