What to do next with these 2 black pines

Hi, I’m new to this forum and a newbie in bonsai planting. I just recently acquire them and would like to know what’s my next course of action. All advice are welcome.
I hereby attached photos of both for reference, thank you.
Front view


Top view

Front view

Top view

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Hi! What’s your goal for these trees?

Hi Jonas, really appreciate your quick response in this matter. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know what are my goals with them, these are my first 2 bonsais, hope that you’ll shed some lights for me. I guess for the smaller pine, It’s going down the path of literati style, I would like it to grow a bit more with a thicker trunk and more branches. As for the bigger pine, it looks like a slanting style, I would prefer for the lower branch to develop a lot more for now and to go from there. What do you think? Thank you.

Those both sound like good options. The main decision relates to you might thicken the trunk. If you want the first trunk to grow larger, you can let the top branch on the tree grow freely for a few years while keeping the other branches in check. The movement in the trunk is good and could make for a compelling small tree.

Because the second tree is nicely planted on a stone, I’d consider starting to refine the branches and work with the trunk as is. Fall will be the time for minor cutback and needle thinning, and you could start decandling the tree next summer.

You could do the same with the first tree too if you’re OK with the trunk as it is now - both approaches are good but each will yield a different tree.

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Thanks Jonas, your advice makes me having second thoughts of whether I should thicken the trunk more in the first tree since you mentioned that the movement in the trunk is good and I might lose some of the movement if the trunk starts to thicken… If you were in my shoes, what would you do?
As for the second tree I’m thinking of something like the pic below but at a much smaller scale…lol


What approach should I take to get my tree down that path, or do you have a better idea of transforming the second tree to something else? Any advice would be most welcomed, thank you.

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Get the moss off the trunk as it can damage the bark. Pick off as much as you can with tweezers, then apply vinegar with a small paint brush (protect the soil with plastic or paper towel), and try to keep the trunk dry, avoid getting water on the trunk when you water the tree.

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It’s a good question. It’s fun to grow trees and develop the trunk, but it’s very different work from refining trees. I often recommend people start on the branch refinement when the trunk is cute. If they want a thicker trunk, I’ll recommend starting with material that already has attained the desired size.

That said, if you like the idea of learning techniques that will take a number of years to see through, growing bigger trunks is a good way to learn all of the above!

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Thanks Jonas, guess I’ll follow your advice and start on refining both trees then, and see how the trees turn out, the smaller tree with slim trunk in literati style and the larger tree with a more substantial trunk in semi cascade style, they might become very nice show piece then, you never know…lol. It’ll be a long time before they are presentable, hahaha. Otherwise I can always put them in a big training pot and let them grow for a couple of years and go from there…
One more thing, since these are my first 2 trees, I’m planning to add more trees into my collection, any suggestion of what other types of trees for beginner like me, thank you.

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Sounds like a great approach. As for what to try next, I’d suggest following your curiosity. Are there any kinds of trees that you’d like to learn more about?

As for the stage of development, I’ve made some notes in several posts starting here: https://bonsaitonight.com/2017/04/18/identifying-suitable-bonsai-material/

Thank Jonas, I’ve just gone through all and find it really informative and helpful, I’ll give myself a bit more time to think over what’re the goals that I wanna achieve and will decide later on… taking it one step at a time for now considering the amount of time and effort that I need to put in with trees of different variety. As for the trees of my interest, I’m thinking of adopting a deciduous tree, what’re the options that are available to me and which would you recommend for a newbie like me, thank you.

Cool! As for deciduous material, that depends on where you live. I’d suggest starting with species that do well in your area as that will make it much easier to keep them healthy. Hornbeams, elms, and maples are all good deciduous starting points. And as for the stage of development, I’d aim for something relatively young so you can train it yourself as it’s harder to find good deciduous material that’s further along.

Thanks Jonas, you’ve been a great help to me. Really appreciate for the time and effort. Will seek for your advice if anything turns up in the future. In the mean time, I’ll enjoy my trees and develop them with love and care and the same goes with you. Thank you.

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