One year I saw this really neat landscape pine tree growing at Pauline Gardens nursery in Denver, Colorado. In the spring the ends of the branches were covered in yellow needles and the tree looked fantastic. I inquired about the tree at the nursery and found out it was a Lodgepole Pine tree. It was a Pinus Contorta “Taylors Sunburst”. It was named after the Colorado State professor who found the original wild tree growing the Wyoming Rocky Mountains. He was so impressed by the tree, he came back the next spring to see if the tree was sick or if it was yellow again. It was yellow again. He also checked on the tree several times during the summer months and saw the tree was completely green. So he took some cuttings and grafted them to under stock and the tree was grown for commercial nursery stock trade. These trees are very expensive to buy and I finally found one with an interesting trunk and more importantly one I could afford. So I bought it and put it a gravel bunker for about 5 years. I have chopped it back several times and have candle pruned it for the last 3-4 years. I took the tree out of the bunker this spring and recently took it down to the Denver Botanic Gardens Friends of the Pavilion workshop run by Larry Jackel. Larry led a tree analysis on the tree and I listened quietly to everyone’s opinions on the tree. I finally gave them my thoughts on the tree. I decided to stick with my plans on a semi-cascade slanting style tree. Since this is a workshop for all Bonsai Artists I decided to let one of our newer Bonsai Artists work on the tree with me sitting right next to them instructing them as they went. The first thing they did was chop the tree back and then remove the bark and form a jin. This is good experience for a new person. We then discussed where should we start with the design of the tree. We cut off and jinned some other smaller branches that would not be used in the design. The next order of business was to remove all of the needles facing down on the underside of each remaining branch. After that was done my student was shown how to wire the 2 lowest branches on the tree. He did a really great job wiring these two branches. We discussed that we might have to add another round of wire to the branch to keep the branch in place.
The tree was brought back the next week and the wiring continued by me this time. I did have to add another round of wire to the 2 lowest branches and secure the first branch to the side of the pot with a pulley wire. The tree was wired from the bottom up until reaching about 2 thirds of the way up the tree.
Finally the tree was finished being styled in my living room one night and was taken outside the next day and watered well. This tree will be planted in a pot at a different angle then it is growing in the pot. This is an important thing to consider when styling a tree. It my look totally different growing at a different planting angle. In this case the tree has branches mostly growing on one side of the tree and the nebari of the tree supports the new growing angle of a tree growing on a cliff hanging on for dear life as it grows out and down.
Note: Deadwood work has not been completed.
Here are some photo’s of the trees development.
The candles on the tree are elongating now and you can now see the yellow needles which will turn green letter in the summer. I am pleased to see new buds/growth just about on all branches with just a couple of very small tiny branches that did not survive the winter. New 06-01-2107