Author Topic: Little project - Scots pine  (Read 3008 times)

David Fairbanks

  • Poster
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Little project - Scots pine
« on: September 06, 2010, 06:44 AM »
I have been a member on here for a while, but have been kept bust lately with an 8 month old (who demands more time and attention than my trees and wife combined) and checked out the site again a few days ago after following a link from facebook. I bumped into Bwaynef in chat who asked if i was going to contribute to the site and stick around.

Having been asked i thought it would be only rude not to, so i thought i would share with you the following.

This is a Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris), the next image includes a 440ml Beer can for size comparison

This tree is of special meaning to me, and although the pictures show nothing to be excited about, i was very happy to be able to own, work on the tree and to be given the chance to take it forward. This tree was first started off from seedling by my Grandfather some time in the mid seventies, making it approx 35 years old, and now its in my care i suppose its a 3rd generation family bonsai, and is certainly older than me.

These days we live in an era of information, and we are all blessed to be able to learn Bonsai from many sources around the world. We have an influx lately of highly talented western Bonsai people who have studied directly under the masters of Japan, an abundance of books, magazines, videos and much much more. This all adds up to an international community of Bonsai people who have an ability to share learning with each other, and the reason why sites like this exist.

Unfortunatley, my Grandad started this tree at a time where Bonsai was something he had seen on his travels, and of which he had no understanding. This was tree was started some 10 years before the likes of Western books such as "'Bonsai - The art of growing and keeping miniature trees" by Peter Chan was published, which is undoubtably recognised as one of the flames that lit the western Bonsai scene.

My Grandads understanding of bonsai was to put a tree in a small pot and leave it there for many many years, and thats where his learning of bonsai stayed which has resulted in this tree, untill i took it off his hands a few days ago.

Its currently in a plastic Vitalite (butter substitute) pot and has been since the late 80's. We describe a tree thats been in the same pot for 8 years as rootbound, this has been in the same pot for around 20 years, so needless to say it is very very rootbound. This will make changing it to modern cultivation a slow task, bare rooting the tree will almost ceratinly result in death, so i will need to do this gradually over a many number of years. It being in the same pot for many years has resulted in a positive however, as you can see in the following pictures

The texture of the bark at the base of the tree is outstanding, it would be very difficult to produce this without the history of the plant being as it is. This is the main reason i decided i would try to make something out of this tree, i felt this bark texture was to good to let go to waste.

Which brings us onto what to do with the plant. The trunks are very hard, being 30 years old and only an inch in width it has grown very slowly for many years. You can see in the first 2 pictures that this years growth comprises of nothing more than a few pairs of needles, and extensions of only a few milimeters.

When i first looked at the tree the angle in the second picture was the one that i thought had the most potential, with a decent windsweplt style being achievable. However im not a fan of the easist option, and in the case of this tree taking the quickest option to produce a result would certainly not be the best one. To get the trunks and branches to hold similar texture to that at the base i will need to spend many years developing this tree.

This means i can look at it as a longer project. The first step was to bring foliage closer to the base, the tree is already leggy, and i dont want it to be anymore so than it already is. This involed bending the trunks, something which the tree wasnt overly willing, however if care was taken, and symathy shown to the tree it is possible to bend even the the least willing of wood.

Care had to be taken to protect the bark athough the trunks do not display texture comparable to the base section, their is the beggings of rough bark and i want to protect this as much as possible so that it can continue to develop. With his in mind i chose to wrap the trunks in tape. In this case i choose to use electricians tape, which may sound like a cheapo option but i have raffia and rubber bonsai tape in but choose to use electricians tape for its properties. It sticks to itself easily, but doesnt tend to stick to other things well. If i was to use the rubber Bonsai tape when i removed it in a years time i would also remove most of the rough bark with it, and as i said this isnt what i wanted. I chose not to use raffia as it gets wet and holds moisture and during the bending process cracks will appear in the bark and late wood layers.  If sat damp this could induce rot on the trunk which is also something i want to avaoid as i plan to leave the tape and wires in place for around a year.

Once the tape had been applied i ran lengths of wire paralell to the trunks and then wrapped with tape again. These wires act as a sort of splint for bending.

Again to be sympathetic to the tree i chosse to use as much wire as i could do to get the job done. It said by many Bonsai people that the least wire should be used to acheive what you need to do and in general this is good advice but not in this case. I could have coiled a thick wire around each trunk to hold the bends, but this would of created areas of great pressure on the bark i am trying to protect, as well as damaging roots while anchoring into the heavily rootbound soil.

Instead i choose to use 0.5 mm wire coiled around the trunk several times. This spreads the pressure of the wire over a greater surface area and means that damage to the trunk bark is at an absolute minumum. On the thickest of the 2 main trunks i used 15 wires to allow the bending to be done without damage to the tree and its bark.

As you can see in the above images, wire was place clockwise, taped, and then further wire applied anti-clockwise. This offers the same holding strength as using a 5mm wire, but is much better for the protection of the trees bark.

This is the result of an hour or twos work.

Both of the leaders on the top left and right hand side will not be involved in its final design. they will be left for several years to help the tree to accept the massive changes in cultivation that it will need to go through. The only foliage that will remain is the section towards the base, and the tree will ultimatly end up as a shohin with arcs of deadwood shooting upwards and then back down to the base in amongst the foliage pads of the tree.

It is impossible to describe to you the image that i have for this tree, the same as its impossible for you to picture it yourselves, but that isnt the point of my post.

I grow material for bonsai, i collect and work Yamadori, i buy and sell trees, i prepare trees for exhibitions, i help to maintain peoples collections but its projects like this that keep me hooked on Bonsai. I like nothing more than to take the "ugly ducklings" and developing them to a swan. This history of this tree for me sums up my philosophy on Bonsai, that time, passion and knowledge are the fundementals to succesfull Bonsai, if it will win awards or not.

** Sorry about bad spelling and grammer, when i talk bonsai i talk quickly**


Bonsai Study Group Admin

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 430
  • Thanked: 4 times
Re: Little project - Scots pine
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2010, 08:32 AM »
Welcome to the Bonsai Study Group.  Please take a moment to read the Welcome thread.

If you have images to share with your post we ask that you upload them here. Ideally we want users to upload their photos here for discussion, as often external links and embedded photos become broken as images and other files are removed or URLs change.  Additionally, images posted here are hidden from guests, encouraging visitors to register for the site and contribute to the community.  You can still embed uploaded images within your post using Bulletin Board Code and the uploaded image URL.  If you need a reference please visit the help section of this site. If you need further assistance please feel free to post your question to the forum feedback section.

You are allowed to edit a post for up to 45 minutes.  If that time passes and you wouldn't mind uploading your photos in a separate post a forum moderator will be happy to edit and place the images for you.