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Larch, best of both worlds

Larch is actually a mix of conifer and deciduous trees, it has best of both worlds. Its leaves change with the season from fresh green to a golden glow in autumn. It is an extremely sturdy and hardy tree which tolerates mistakes, can be wired, or can be styled with the clip and grow method. Dominique Bosch takes us step by step as he styles a larch.

1. Analysing the tree

This tree was field grown and trained in a shallow container for a few years. I was struck by the many fine branches and its fine tapering trunk. When a layer of soil was removed, a very well developed root base appeared. At the base it has two branches that are opposite one another; the one on the left will go in favour of the thicker branch on the right to create a tree that is more asymmetric and looks natural and pleasing. The trunk is far too long, so I will shorten it to a third, make a jin at the top and use lower branches to create a new top.


2. Removing branches



Considering where to shorten the thick branch on the right



The younger branches are still very flexible, but need shortening too


3. Working on the top

The top part of the trunk is made into deadwood. With a sharp knife I cut into the bark marking the lines of the shari. Then I squeeze the bark with jin pliers and tear it off. To make the fresh young deadwood look older I tear out strips of wood with small pliers. Next I burn the wood with a blowtorch to give it an even older look. It is then brushed clean again using a fine copper brush.


4. Wiring branches

The larch can be wired very easily, but better do this during the dormant period to avoid damage to the buds. The young branches are remarkably flexible, rather like an elastic band.

 5. The final touches

Halfway up the trunk there are thicker, less flexible branches, so I will wrap these in raffia for protection and wire and bend them. The branch on the left comes down to counter balance the big branch to the right.



For protection I wrap both of the branches in raffia



And again I use a single wire, anchored around the trunk, to wire both branches



Because the branches are quite thick I need to double wire them



After bending the middle branches I concentrate on the upper ones



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