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Hiroki Miura fixes a black pine that is rather too dull

Black pine. Height: 30 cm Width: 30 cm. Front before work.

A thin-trunked tree with movement that creates a literati style black pine. Looking carefully at the base of the trunk there are a number of roots that are all tied up together making it an exposed root style piece of material. By all rights the character of the roots should be focused on; however, the trunk character and lack of impact from the roots mean that the strong bend in the trunk is the most overpowering feature, one which looks very unnatural. How can the thinness and unnatural character be overcome and improved?

Back before work.

Folding up the trunk to reduce the weakness

Hiroki Miura has pointed out the weakness in the trunk as a major flaw of this exposed root black pine material. There is a very strong and pronounced movement in the trunk, but no taper to the trunk that has branches growing only from the top section. Other than the big bend, there is no other variation in the trunk and it is quite boring. ‘It looks like an S-bend, which is artificial and uninteresting. The thin nature of the trunk is a problem. First we will move the trunk next to the exposed root section and fold it up and compact it. That should remove the flaws,’ Hiroki Miura tells us as he comes up with a plan.

Using my thumb to pull the trunk close to the roots,

Compacting the trunk and using the bend

The S-bend in the trunk is to be pulled right down to the roots and compacted. It is easily bent by hand as the trunk is still thin, which allows it to be bent down to the roots without much difficulty. Any normally stressful work such as trunk bending shouldn’t be carried out in the middle of summer, but the flexibility of the trunk here is such that little damage will be done.

The two sections are tied together using a cable tie that, when tightened, pulls the two even closer.
The first bend is made. The trunk is touching the exposed root section.
The trunk further up feels as though it is floating in space and so it is bent down.

The thin nature of the trunk is a problem

Hiroki Miura

Fixing in two spots compacts the tree!

The old front after compacting the trunk and the back. Using two cable ties in two spots has compacted the trunk. The trunk line covers the exposed root section from the old front, but looking from the rear, the character is visible, so this will become the new front.
Seen from the back.
New front before further trunk bending.
Old front before further trunk bending.
After the trunk was compacted, the remaining section of trunk still has something of a leggy, uninteresting feel (shown in red). If this can be compacted and the foliage brought up close to the base, it will give a much better image.

Compacting the cascading branch

By compacting the trunk, the boring and uninteresting character has been removed, improving it dramatically. By removing the loose loop-like movement, and bringing the roots and trunk together as one, it improves and highlights the character of both sections.
The next step for Hiroki is to style the cascading branch. Now that the trunk and base is compact, the branch is too large and draws the attention away from the character feature that was just created. Using a cable tie in the same way as the trunk bending, Hiroki will compact the branches to bring everything together.

The extending trunk line will now be pulled in and compacted. This can be done using the existing bends.
After wiring the trunk, a cable tie is used to compact the trunk line even further and compress it.
After bending the cascade section. The leggy feeling has been removed and the entire tree has become compacted.

The change in the cascade branch as seen from above

Cascade section before bending, seen from above. The tip of the cascading branch feels very leggy and remote.
After bending, seen from above. The end of the branch has been pulled into a more central position and the entire tree is compressed.

Looking at the compaction and styling of the branches from the side

After initial trunk compaction, as seen from the left. The branches that were all growing upwards are now closer to the base of the trunk.
After the second trunk bend, as seen from the left. The branches are now far more central rather than spreading out all over the place.
After initial styling. The main cascading branch has been brought to the middle rather than pointing out the back.

The thin trunk and exposed roots become one!

Hiroki Miura

The final result

All the new candles have been cut and only the old ones remain. You can see the trunk line much better now. The uninteresting trunk with no taper and unnatural movement is now a compact and dynamic shape with interesting character, especially in the exposed root section.

Although a dramatic bend during the growing season, the second flush of buds have been developing as expected. If there is no drop in vigour in the next few years, the trunk will fix in position in 2 to 3 years and the cable ties can be removed.

Shape after candle cutting. Height: 13 cm Width: 21 cm.
View from the left after candle cutting.
Approximately one month after the styling. Height: 12 cm Width: 20 cm.

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