Part II: Shore Pine Design Puzzle

Thank you all for sending in your design thoughts about this curious and complicated pine. There were some excellent designs. It is a truism about bonsai design that removing one thing often necessitates the removal of other things, in order to retain visual balance. And with pruning away overly long and repetitive branching we begin that process.

Almost everyone chose to retain the multiple crown feeling of this tree, and I think that’s the best beginning.

Here are a few photos of what we did with it…


Here’s the front we chose. Although the front from this side has a slight pigeon breast, coming toward the viewer, that pigeoning adds boldness, and structurally this side had better possibilities for apices and spacial placement of branching. Now to make sense of it by pruning…


Here we are removing one of the branches that could have been used as a final leader for the main trunk. The smaller trunk to the right has already been shortened to the first possible branch that was large enough to take over. With these cuts we achieve some taper goals, as well as relationship goals between the multiple trunks…in height and relative thickness. And the large straight trunk in the middle of these two was removed entirely.


What the tree looked like following structural pruning, and needle removal for balancing shoot-to-shoot.


Wiring the tree.


The finished Shore Pine, 38″ / 97 cm high. This is a case of an unusual flow. Usually with a multiple trunk tree, the minor trunk, which in this case is the small one to the left, is in the direction of the flow. Here, with the crown of the main trunk to the right of the base, it’s a leaning tree…away from the minor trunk, which is a design I’ve always really liked but one rarely comes across a suitable tree for it. To add a bit of quirkiness and individuality to the tree, we left the low branch near the base on…for now. Technically a branch that low has no place on a bunjin form, so it might not last. Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know I take a left turn now and then, and if I do, I try to own up to it. We’ll live with that low branch for a while…even though it’s naughty. Thanks everyone for engaging in this exercise! We’ll do it again sometime.

And for those of you who haven’t yet seen the first part of this exercise, here it is:

Part I: Shore Pine Design Puzzle

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  1. Ray says:

    I like it Michael. What did you do with tiny rear branch at bottom left?

    • crataegus says:

      Left it on. From this front is was less a problem; from the other side it hid the base of the tree too much. But it’s a bit low for bunjin really.

  2. Steven Knapp says:

    Wow that turned out nice.

  3. Bob Martin says:

    Very nice. Curious if there is a particular process you employ for reducing the stubs of the branches you removed?

    • crataegus says:

      I try to avoid cutting off branches during the warm months of the year. Too much sap flow then. One can always leave a stub for a while, then the tree will redirect it’s fluid transfer to go around the stub. Later the stub can be cut off without much sap flow that can mar the bark.

  4. John Bishop says:

    This was a great exercise. I like seeing the thought processes worked out step-by-step. The photography was very good and I could see what was being done. The discussions provide a good reason for why. This was far superior to some of the elaborate productions done in Bonsai Focus. Much easier to follow what you did and why.

    Thanks. Keep it up. >

  5. Randi Heise says:

    And the Tree’s name is “the Ballet’? R

  6. carol ebreo says:

    really like what you did with this tree!! Still love that little branch as well !

  7. Michael Cole says:

    Is “whispyness” a word? this tree has it, fantastic.

  8. Graham says:

    Great achievement, I didn’t realize how tall the tree was until that one photo of you facing the camera.
    Some design ideas included jin’n of removed/reduced stems, did you consider that at any point?

    • crataegus says:

      Yes, jins were one possibility. For this tree, I thought jins would stop the flowyness of the trunk line. Sometimes jins can be detrimental to bunjin for that reason. Shari on the other hand are more about the line of the trunk, so they can be more useful for bunjin. For this tree, I thought future callused-over cuts would look the best.

  9. anijhuis says:

    nicely done

  10. Ray says:

    Rely enjoyed this exercise Michael, Thank YOU!!


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