Bulk Bonsai! Massive Cut Backs!

Aichien is very well known for its Japanese Black Pines and Trident Maples.  Most days, we spend working on one of these two species and most of them are quite nice and have been in a refinement phase for a very long time.  There are however, days where we have “special projects” that involve more of a middle phase of bonsai development.

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of working with two fairly large groups of trees.  One of red pine and the other Japanese quince.  While these projects may seem mundane,  I chose to see the silver lining.  Working on multiples of the same material, all in need of the exact same work is a great way to build confidence in cutting, speed, and efficiency.  Plus it’s not very often that we get to work on bonsai in an almost assembly line/factory style.

The Red Pines!

The group of pines, minus two cart loads to be taken to the shop to begin work.

The group of pines, minus two cart loads to be taken to the shop to begin work.

These red pines were started by Mr. Tanaka about 15 years ago.  At some point within the first few years he gave them all a basic shape.  Since then they have just been going through a cycle of growing and cutting and growing and cutting and…well you get the idea.

The first two cart loads, ready to be worked on.

The first two cart loads, ready to be worked on.

The process is simple.  We just cut back to the last shoots, preferably creating a fork, followed by pulling any excess needles.  Then we do it again and again and again.

before work.

before the work.

The above pic is straight out of the field.  As you can see there is a lot of foliage but very little ramification.  Additionally everything is growing straight up as these trees have not been styled.

The following pics will briefly show the motions of cutting this thing back.

Just about every branch on all of these pines looks like this.

Just about every branch on all of these pines looks like this.

Cut back and pulled needles.

Cut back and pulled needles.  You can see the fork near my index finger.  Basic bonsai stuff here.

This one is done.  Now it will be put back in the field to grow and in a few years, we will do this again.

This one is done. Now it will be put back in the field to grow and in a few years, we will probably do this again.

And then…Snack Time!

These are amazing.  Little ice cream things with a chocolate shell.  They even come with a cool plastic sword to stab them with so you dont have to wash your hands before eating them. ;p

These are amazing. Little ice cream things with a chocolate shell. They even come with a cool plastic sword to stab them with so you dont have to wash your hands before eating them. ;p

Next Project!

Quince Hedge or bonsai?

Quince hedge or bonsai?

I hear this row of hedges is actually about 20 bonsai.  My job is to basically chop these things down to nubs.  Then they will grow and Ill do it again next year and the year after that and so on and so on.

cut down

cut down

Everything cut. What a mess.  Clean up time.

squeaky clean

squeaky clean

All cleaned up.  Turns out they actually are bonsai after all.  And look, there is even a path here.  Amazing what a pair of cutters and a broom can do! Glad that’s over.  For a moment this almost started to feel like work!

Ok, that’s all for now.  Thanks for reading.

Danny Coffey

P.S.  Are you an Instagram user?  If so, do a search for TreeThePeople.  Posting on the blog takes a lot of time, so I will be supplementing with IG posts.  Hope to see you there!