Shore Pine Design Exercise—Pt. 2

Here’s what we did with the Shore Pine from last week:

Shore Pine before adjustments…

…Shore Pine after adjustments. These were pretty small changes.

To make effective changes we have to start with a decision point, what it is that are we trying to accomplish. For this tree, there were two decision points:

  1. Balance the larger masses with the smaller masses—we did this by separating the heavy foliage mass near the top right into two pads. Too much mass in one area is distracting. Breaking it up into smaller groups unifies the tree.
  2. Make a more convincing flow to the left—we shortened the right branch halfway up the tree, so that there was more power and directionality to the left branches. The first image appears too stable, though it is a leaning tree (apex is to the left, in the direction of the flow). By shortening the right side, the flow is more easy to read. And leaning trees should have a very easy to read flow.

Sometimes changes like this can be errors from the start. Just something you missed. Other times the tree grows more in one area than another, and needs adjustment to bring it back to a clearly focused design. Over time your tree will change, either because it’s simply growing, or because you look at it differently.

6 Comments

  1. Collin Murphy says:

    How do you decide when to make changes through wiring as opposed to pruning? I’m assuming the modification to the upper foliage was done with wiring, and the change to the other branch was done by pruning.

    • crataegus says:

      You are correct, the upper foliage was just adjusted with wire. The lower branch pruned back. As far as the decisions…sometimes a curve in the branch is all that is needed. Or one can lower a branch, that shortens the profile. Bringing it forward or backward does the same thing. When none of those options work, then the branch must be shortened with a pruner.

  2. David Wheeler says:

    Michael….THAT was one of the most exceptional bonsai e-mails I have ever received – THANK YOU David

    On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 3:02 AM, Michael Hagedorn wrote:

    > crataegus posted: “Here’s what we did with the Shore Pine from last week: > Shore Pine before adjustments… …Shore Pine after adjustments. These > were pretty small changes. To make effective changes we have to start with > a decision point, what it is that are we try” >

  3. Pierre says:

    Very interesting. However, the more I look at the after image, the more I feel that shortening the upper right branch didn’t amplify the flow to the left that much because the lower right branch is now given more (too much?) visual importance

  4. Daniel Dolan says:

    Michael: Thanks for your article on Boxwood…..could you comment on whether or not it is permissible to defoliate a Boxwood tree each year? I somewhat recall reading in multiple “Bonsai Books”, that certain species of trees should be given a rest every other year?

    PS I was fortunate to have dinner with you after the Bonsai Exhibit at the Botanic Gardens and recall your comments about Bonsai Books in general, which has turned out to be my experience as well.
    Thank you.
    D/D
    Chicago

    • crataegus says:

      Many species should be given this rest. Azaleas are one of those, many consider it necessary to not let the tree flower every year, some say let them bloom only every three years. I’ve found this to be true in many cases, and yet there are very strong trees that can bloom more often than that. Black pine decandling is on the other end of the spectrum, one only skips decandling if the tree is quite weak.
      As for boxwood, they do tend to need a break. I don’t defoliate every year. At least one year off in-between.

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