Design Tweak For A Bunjin-

When our trees get out of shape and gangly they give us the opportunity to see them again. When a client brought in this Lodgepole Pine that he’d collected, it looked ripe for a tweak.

‘Integration’ is a word we throw around a lot in bonsai. And it’s an important design word. Generally what we mean by it is we want the foliage to be connected with the trunk. Often if too far apart the two don’t relate at all, and the visual story we’re trying to tell about a tree weakens. That would be poor integration.

This pine is a good example of when integration falls apart, which is common after a few seasons of growth or simply if the wire is taken off. The branches go wonky, spread out, and disconnect from the trunk line—looking not unlike a long overdue haircut. Any attractive visual tension evaporates. (And in the visual arts we like tension—it’s in good painting, sculpture, even dance.)

This is a simple before and after pair of photos showing how we tried to tighten it back up.

Lodgepole Pine after growing for some years, and, inevitably, getting a tad gangly.

After repositioning the branches. Only a small branch in the back was removed; otherwise all that you see has just been repositioned. Because of the strong lean of the trunk, the key branch was used to bring some weight back along the trunkline, toward the base. By sucking the foliage up close to the upper trunk, there is more of a conversation there with the negative space. Also, small foliage masses work best with a skinny trunk. 

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  1. Mike Horine says:

    Much nicer!!!!!

  2. Andy Moerlein says:

    I LOVE your crisp design comments and transparent idea plan shown here!

    Great blog.

    Andy Moerlein

  3. Ron says:

    Love it and what a very unique and special tree.

  4. Allen Aigen says:

    That’s why people bring their trees to the experts!

  5. todd MOrgan says:

    did you pull all of those branches forward? What does it look like from the side view? how did you avoid having them go way out in the front?

    • crataegus says:

      Hi Todd, good question, sorry we didn’t get a side view. Most of the shoots did face to the front but they are fanned out, so the side views are ok too. We didn’t really bring branches forward, though. Hope that makes sense.

      • Todd Morgan says:

        OK, … guess I would have to see the side views… it is so amazing to me how that gangly set of branches turn into a nice, more compact tree.

  6. Jesse Strong says:

    Beauty! Nice job here. Simple and strong. Great tree!

    • Frank Wright says:

      Design is great. Would you suggest using this design on a long gangle Avacado with 8 leaves, still on the seed?

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