Lets Bend! Part 2

Lets Bend! Part 2

Do you remember this Black Pine?  Back In July of 2011 I bent the trunk of this tree and wrote a post about it called Lets Bend!  Click on the link if you want to see how I bent the trunk and what the tree looked like when I first worked on it.  After I bent the trunk, I then de-candled the tree and pulled the old needles down to 5 pairs.

During this time of year, we’re busy prepping for shows and doing a lot of wire work on conifers.  Every time I walked by this tree in the yard, I would always stop to look at it to see how it was doing.  A couple of days ago, I bent down to look at it again and Mr. Tanaka said, “okay, okay that is your next job!”  Apparently he’s seen me eyeing the tree many times since July.  I’m always excited to continue the work on a developing tree!  Now for the next step!

Here is what the Black Pine looks like now before I worked on it.  Since the bend and de-candling, the tree didn’t skip a beat and filled in nicely.  The foliage  is nice and green.

Here is the tree after I finished.  I removed the guy wire in the front but left the guy wire in the back that is holding the bend in the trunk.  I felt the wire and it’s still somewhat tight so the bend isn’t holding just yet.  Next, I pulled all the old needles off and the new needles down to five pairs.  I also thinned out the new candles to one or two pairs.

As for the wiring, I bend just about every branch down and started creating fan shaped pads.  As I worked up towards the top of the tree, the pads would progressively get smaller.  The top of the tree is somewhat thin at the moment but there are buds there and I’m sure next year new branches will fill that area in no time.

Mr. Tanaka looked at the tree and did some very small adjustment so the after picture pretty much looked the same.  He moved a couple of branches in the back and spaced them apart a bit more evenly then I did (I still have a tendency to pay less attention to the back of the tree).  Other then that, he was happy with the outcome of the tree.

Effects of de-candling

Three things happen when you de-candle a tree in the Summer.

1. The new candle internodes are shorter

2. Branch division

3. Shorter needles

What’s the next step?

Around March, I will repot this tree to it’s new angle.  I’ll be sure to post about it then.  Mr. Tanaka and I was looking at the roots and discussing what we would have to do with the it to get the tree into the new angle.  Here are some things we saw.

Here is a close up of the root spread

From the picture, you can see that there is a fairly large root on the left side of the tree.  When I repot the tree, this big root will be buried under the soil line which will actually improve the root spread.  Ideally a good root spread (Nebari) should have small roots radiating out of the trunk.  If there are large roots coming out of the trunk, it can throw off the proportions of the tree and make the tree look less realistic.

Here is the main problem on the right side of the tree.

There is a large root coming from the back towards the front.   Once I change the angle of the tree, this big root is really going to be exposed and affect how good the root spread will look.  What can I do about this?  Cut it off and cross my fingers?

Here is a shot of the big root from the side

The good news here is that at the back of the tree, the big root splits off into this smaller root.  When I repot the tree, Mr. Tanaka and I plan on cutting the large root off and keeping the small one.  This works out great because the small root we keep will help support the tree while it recovers from the large root being removed.  Of course, we can’t be for sure until I start taking some soil away, but we pretty confident that we can remove the root during repotting and greatly improve this tree’s root spread.  Once the angle is changed, this small root will be bent down with wire to the soil level so that its not just sticking up in the air.  I can’t wait til March!

…and the photo history so far


The future of the tree

After repotting the tree in March, the new candles will start to push in April.  I plan on de-candling the tree again during the Summer and continue the branch development to dense up the pads.  Now I have two months to think of what pot I should use for this tree! Hmmmm…..?

Thanks for reading!

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13 thoughts on “Lets Bend! Part 2

  1. Marcelo says:

    I’m curious, Peter: will you use an oval pot? Or an “half-moon” (cliff-like) one? Please explain your pot decision, ok? I guess it will be a little deeper, in order to cover the big left root. I’ll stay around reading and learning, your blog is great.
    By the way, let me share my brazilian bonsai blog:
    It is in portuguese, but I promise try to answer in english.
    Remember to be merciful (ha ha ha…)

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Marcelo,

      I’m not sure about the pot yet but it would need to be fairly strong to compliment the strong bend and heavily leaning trunk. I’ll be sure to take photos when I repot the tree and talk about why I choose the pot that I did. Thanks for reading the blog and I’ll be sure to check out yours as well. Take care!

  2. Leon Martin says:

    Greetings Peter,
    Last week at the RBG Bonsai Society Meeting, Aron shared his photo’s and experiences of the week working with you in December at the Nursery. I was also in Japan for the ASPAC convention with my longtime friend Hiroshi Yamaji in Takamatsu. So it was very interesting hearing about your activities. Thank you for sharing your experiences with so many people world wide. I have been to Japan a great many times in the past 45 years, it never fails to facinate me. I always wanted to spend a year or more working with Yamaji at Sanshoen but so many other responsibilities to my family, children and work made it impossible. But I did spend a month in a summer plucking needles on his pines. Thank you for the inspiration ….What a mild winter we are having, some maples are leafing in cold storage here….Leon Martin, Niagara-on-the-Lake Canada

  3. Mike Arakaki says:


    Kind of reminds me of a smaller version of Daizo Iwasaki’s award winning Akamatsu. You know, the one they used for the Takamatsu Convention Logo tree.


  4. Mike Pollock says:

    What a wonderful improvement already. Can’t wait to see the repotting job.

  5. Very Interesting work Peter. Nice tree. I wish I had some of this quality in my humble collection. Would you have a p problem if I reblog an occasional article.

  6. Rosemarie Voelker says:

    Your articles are a great learning experience. Thank you for giving on your knowledge and experiences.

  7. Brenda says:

    Thanks, Peter. I enjoy the details that you provide as you design your ‘subjects’. I’ll look forward to more info from the March transformation. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Sandy Vee says:

    Wonderful work! You really do a lot more shaping on questionable trees in Japan than I have seen this side of the pond. Good to know it’s possible

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Sandy,

      It all depends on who you study with. I was lucky enough to come to a place where we actively create trees and push our own skills! Many times, that can’t be said for many of the other nurseries here.

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