Japanese Black Pine Design (Development)


Looking for community ideas on where to take my JBP to further development. I have outlined on the attached photos the design intent. The main focus is to thicken the trunk always with a sacrificial leader and also to start developing the lower portion of the tree. Can structural wiring be started this time of year? Im in Tampa, Fl and the tree is 6 years old.

(Frank Corrigan) #2

Nice post, well thought out and explained. I assume you are working towards a literati style, is that a safe assumption?
Seeing as you asked for community input i do have an alternate suggestion.
At the point where you have labelled #4 there is a larger branch coming off that you have identifies as a possible new sacrifice branch, At the beginning of that branch just up a ways there is also a small branch that could be a new apex. There are also several small branches just lower on the trunk where the Branch comes off the trunk. I would suggest this area to consider for a new apex, sacrifice branch and lower branches available to heal wounds , begin design. Of course this would be a shorter tree. possibly too short? Hard to tell the scale for sure but i am guessing the first little branches are about 6 inches above the soil, not sure of the nebari.

(Jonas Dupuich) #3

Looks like the tree is off to a great start! The first thing I notice is that the movement is very good up to the last inch or so before the whorl where the cut line is indicated. I’d likely start by deciding whether or not to use that section of the trunk. This brings up Frank’s question about how tall a tree you’re looking for and what style, if any, appeal at this point.

If that entire section of the trunk will be used, a follow-up question would be whether or not taper is desired. If so, a lower branch would be needed as a sacrifice. If not, then a new apex can be selected as you outlined.

You have a lot of good options at this point, whether you want a taller tree or a shorter tree (or want to make a taller tree from some of the currently shorter sections). The second branch up from the bottom left in the final photo could be used, or at least the buds at the base of this branch. The next most obvious choice would be to use the curvy section above that up to the whorl where you mention cutting the branches you don’t need for the design. I’d make the decision based on the size and style tree you’re looking for.

Great photo mark-up - thanks for sharing!


My first thoughts are informal upright or literati.



Another idea, keep the main leader and bend it to form the design below.

(Frank Corrigan) #7

I like the idea, it matches well with the second picture you posted above. It is great to have a tree illustrating the concept one is after.
One particular aspect of that design is the way the apical chop is dealt with on the lower right. Quite effective in my mind.
When i first looked at the tree you are working on my mind wandered to Literati due to the unusual movement and very little taper. Lots of options in that direction as well.
Have fun, be sure and post your progress!



(Jonas Dupuich) #10

Nice - I think any of these options could work. If you opt for the taller designs, I’d to work the trunk so the upper sections have the same kind of character you developed in the lower trunk. This could entail wiring and/or additional cuts and sacrifice branches which would take time but could yield a good tree.

(Frank Corrigan) #11

Because the tree is very young and lots of options are still viable i would want to assess the nebari. This could influence the style going forward.


The nabari is almost non existent, what I mean is there is basically no flare yet. The trunk seems like it goes straight into the soil with no flare .



This spring I plan on reporting it so I may or may not want to do many structural changes. Do I need to repot or can this tree stay in this pot one more season?

(Frank Corrigan) #15

The answer depends on your primary goal and the current condition of the tree. For starters, when was the tree planted in the pond basket? The next important piece of information for me is what is the actual condition of the root ball and overall nebari.
If i received the tree from someone else then i make it a practice to repot as soon as the time is right for that species. That way i can understand what is needed to develop the tree and what styles may be suitable to the natural characteristics of the nebari.

The tree seems healthy enough and that indicates that it could stay in the pond basket if the soil is still free draining and not compacted. The pond basket will tend to promote finer root development as opposed to thicker more pronounced nebari if needed. I use colandars and pond baskets after the basic root structure has been formed.

Please understand it is my personal preference to deal with developing basic root structure before beginning further style development. If the nebari is poorly formed or inverse taper is beginning then correcting those conditions would be my first priority. Others may choose to address these issues later.

One further note if your primary goal is to thicken the trunk then the more foliage and branches retained for longer is better. The caveat is if a problem is being developed by allowing too much growth in a particular area.


All very good points. To stop swelling at the whorls can the desired branches be removed now or wait until spring or summer? Also, can I start the major bending and structural wiring at this time?

(Frank Corrigan) #17

It is often wise to allow the tree extra foliage throughout the winter and make larger reductions in the spring. In your case the weather is milder and may or may not be important. When i reduce a whorl i usually do it in stages taking off the largest unesesary branch first but leaving a stub. I usually go back to remove the rest and clean up for a clean heal after the tree has had time to reroute resources and establish pathway with minimal dieback in the area.
Wiring at this point should be fine.


Can a guidewire be used to position a branch into its future final position (yellow) or does wire along the branch have to be used? (Blue)