SHAPING DECIDUOUS TREE BRANCHES
To further illustrate deciduous tree building it is necessary to see how they are grown and developed over the years and the overall shape that one should aim for in a deciduous branch.
Year One: The new branch as seen from above.
Year One: The new branch seen from the side.
Year One: A new shoot is allowed to extend from the trunk and it is then wired in Autumn to provide movement. This first shoot is also known as the ‘Primary Branch’.
Notice that there is movement from side to side and up and down. It is worth putting some slightly exaggerated movement into the shoot as over time, as the shoot thickens the bends will become less pronounced.
Year Two: The unwired branch as seen from above.
Year Two: The unwired branch seen from the side.
Year Two: At the end of the growing season and after pinching back the new shoots that have appeared on the Primary Branch there are 4 new shoots that require pruning, wiring and moving into position.
Year Two: The wired branch as seen from above.
Year Two: The wired branch seen from the side.
Year Two: After pruning and wiring. One of the new shoots (also known as secondary branches) has been removed because it was growing from the inside of a curve on the primary branch.
The three remaining secondary branches have been shortened slightly and had movement added to them.
See from the side it is possible to see that the secondary branches roughly follow the same line as the primary branch from last year. Two important aspects of the positioning of these shoots is that they do not cross each other or the primary branch and they have similar (but not exactly the same) movement.
Year Three: The newly wired branch as seen from above.
Year Three: The newly wired branch seen from the side.
Year Three: As in the previous two years, new shoots have appeared at the tips of the branches. Also, as a result of pinching back these new shoots, ‘backbudding’ has occured where new shoots have appeared further back along the branch.
The new shoots have been wired in the Autumn as previously described with the new shoots following similar but not identical lines to each other. When seen from the side it is possible to see that the new shoots on the branch have been wired so that they are still not crossing.
When the branch is seen from above it is possible to see that the shoots form together into a large fan-shape with each branch dividing into two new sub-branches.
Year Five: The wired branch as seen from above.
Year Five: The wired branch seen from the side.
By year five the branch has really begun to take shape. Ramification (the twiggyness) is excellent and there is good taper to the branch. A bonsai carrying a large number of branches as well developed as this would make an impressive sight.
But what happens now? Is the bonsai ‘complete’? Are there any improvements that can still be made? Or does the bonsai remain in stasis, a finished work of Art?