Nov 23

Contorted Pine

What would you do with this?

Originally posted Friday, April 10, 2009 (current edit at end of post)

This tree is one given me by a dear friend who is too generous. Seriously, he helps me in many ways. When I first looked at this tree, I didn’t know what to make of it, but this spring I decided to look at it with a serious eye.

At first glance, most folks would walk away from this one, thinking, ” As it is now it looks like an Elephant sat on it,” or “Burn pile! In all honesty there is nothing much to do with this specimen.” I thought as much at first. For example, the foliage is a long way from the trunk. It is very leggy, and the coils look too regular, like a spring.

Someone suggested laying it on its side, no doubt to be a cascade style:

but this doesn’t deal with the issues already mentioned.

Of course we know that one can add branches wherever one likes with proper grafting technique, so the legginess is not an issue. We are building trunks first, and without a proper trunk, a tree has no soul.

So I decided the only real option is to emphasize what the tree has in abundance: twistiness. By wiring this one and compressing the curves, I have an opportunity to produce a shohin tree with a tremendously twisted trunk. The key will be to avoid too much symmetry.

I wired the entire trunk from the base, including wrapping the wire tightly around that base to allow it to cut in just a bit and swell it to a better size. I was working by myself on the first wiring, and without help or a clamp of some kind, this was as tight as I could make the coils while compressing with my left hand and tightening the wire with my right.

Here are some photos of the result so far.

During our recent workshop, Tom helped my by tightening the guy wires further while I really bore down on the grip. Here’s the result:

The important thing to know here is that anyone can do this kind of thing on a tree, it just takes some practice wiring, a little knowledge of the techniques for anchoring, and a piece of inexpensive material. Of course one could start with a tall whip and put their own bends into it, so one need not start with pre-bent material. For those of us with limited access to great yamadori material, this can be a great substitute.

Today: This tree is doing well and has since been unwired. I rewired the base last winter and it has spent another year in the pot. I’m seriously considering Frank Kroeker’s suggestion to put this one in the ground and see where it goes from there!

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