Japanese Black Pine Bonsai Progression Article

2017 in March I went to Japan to formalise my study for 3 months. Studying in Taishō-en under Nobuichi Urushibata. It was a fantastic experience and I'd love to go back 1, or 10 times again 8-).


This is an article on how I applied what I have learnt in Japan to a bunjin Japanese Black Pine Bonsai.


In the summer of 2016 I fed it and cut the candles At this point I really want the tree to flow back towars the nebari, the difficulty is the main branch has shari all along it, making it very brittle, the live vein is thin, and won't handle being removed from the shari. The answer will probably lie in a year or two of strengthening the live vein, removing the deadwood, bracing the live vein, raffia, wire and bending, so we wait.

After I got back from Japan I could see the fruits of my labour, as the new buds had grown, and hardened off, coming back at the start of winter was very intentional, this meant I could plough into the styling.

I intentionally avoided wiring it as I had already organised to go to Japan

After thinning


Initial wiring

After a week or two I photographed it on a backdrop. Unfortunately while I was away someone lost my professional backdrop and had to use a table cloth.

The apex area of the tree, needs a lot of work, but the ground work is there. The branches on the right side need to be grown out to give a more dramatic sweeping back; this is the image I want to create. Finally ill bend the main branch to face the right and expose the interesting bends in the trunk close to the foliage. Ill also tile the tree up a little more, giving it more hight. I'll also look at changing the tilt to get more movement out of the lower portion of the trunk.


This photo is from late spring 2017. 


 I took the tree to a workshop with Bjorn, many things were discussed, in the end we propped it up a bit, and adjusted the branches appropriately. Now in a stunning Gyozan pot (old Tokoname Bonsai Pot).


Repotting black pines sets the back a bit, especially when changing potting medium. The tree was in an old pine mulch mix, which had broken down to mud basically, so I had to completely rinse the roots clean, and start again. The roots has puffed a bit because of this mix, but now all is well. I went into a medium sized mix of Akadama, Pumice, Scoria and a touch of charcoal to help with rehabilitation. The tree is happy now In this mix, and while it was set back, the candles have stolen and will produce a healthy flush this year that I think will be strong enough to decandle. Last year I did not decandle to save the trees health, so I lost a year.





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