A couple years ago I picked up several young pines from a grower in Lindsey, Ed Clark. Ed grows these pines with wire embedded in the trunk to add girth quickly and to add good movement. The technique is not for everyone and pine purists will say they look un-natural and man made. The truth is that as the years go by they look less and less man made and begin to take on a different look. I am OK with the look and will continue to work with these pines to see how I might develop them.
The pines at the nursery are fairly bushy due to letting the growth run and pruning only once a year. The trunks have been wrapped with wire and the wire is allowed to cut in producing lots of scar tissue and bulges and texture. A lot of the trunks at this age look a lot like the Michelin Man.
The tops tend to look pretty bushy and one can be assured that a yuears growth will really turn it into a bowling ball of green.
One years growth at my place.
I had purchased about 10 of the pines. Cursory cuts have been made and the foliage was allowed to grow all season.
After purchasing the material the first cuts are made. Wire is applied to set the shape and then it is allowed to grow and bud.
Today the pine looks like this one year later.
The group look like this.
This second group are one year further along in training.
Now that’s the method for growing and training pines being specifically grown for bonsai with lots of care and training along the way preserving branches and not allowing anything to get out of proportion. Lets look at some pines being grown for bonsai but with much less work done to them for the future as bonsai. These are good trees, but many of them should have been culled along the way. Many of them are taking up space and water and fertilizer is being wasted on material that does not have a bright future in the bonsai trade.
Lets look at this growers material as a whole.
Now we can zoom in and take a look at individual trees.
This pine has a good trunk movement. It has a nice curve and the curve is low and in scale with a tree 8 inches tall. This is a keeper.
This tree has a good nebari and lots of branches down low to work with. A strong pine when cut will bud profusely if it is healthy.
This is another good candidate with a nice wiggle in the trunk to help add some dynamics. Lots of branch choices and low branches keep the tree in scale and proportion.
Even though I did not get a good pic of the trunk, the tree has lots of branches and many are low enough to start a good shohin tree. Possibly a good formal upright tree here.
At first glance this tree may be looked over with the wye in the trunk and straight section off to the right. I would purchase this tree and cut off the trunk on the right maybe leaving a small jin stub. I would continue working the left side due to its compact growth and good trunk movement as well as a profusion of branches to work with.
Some trees that would be something to look past would be trees with little movement and few branches. This straight beanpole has nothing going for it.
This small pine while having lots of branches, there is little to work with as far as a trunk. It is straight and uninteresting, branching starts too high and the trunk has little taper. Pass one like this by. I have seen people buy trees like this when there is little material to choose from. Switch to a species with better choices in your locale and be happy a few years from now. Buying material like this is “not” a leaning experience and that line is a cop out for poor choices at the check stand.
Here is another poor choice. Again the enticement may be the larger trunk size. It seems larger than the others. That’s true but it come with little else. That first section of trunk is out of scale without taper for an 8 inch tree, and finding a tree in this material may take decades.
There is no taper and the wye in the trunk with a leader out the middle looks funny and cannot be corrected. Removing the central leader will leaves you with a slingshot and will probably not bud back very easily on the old wood.