Reworking a Ponderosa’s Apex

Regular
readers
have
seen
pictures
of
this
tree
before.
It’s
a
ponderosa
pine,

Pinus
ponderosa
,
collected
by
Andy
Smith
in
2017.
I
bought
it
from
Andy
in
August
2019
and
styled
it
with
his
assistance.
It
was
repotted
in
the
spring
of
2020,
and
grew
well
for
the
rest
of
that
year
and
into
this
one.
Here’s
a
picture
after
repotting.
Please
forgive
the
cluttered
background
in
some
of
the
pictures.

For
a
size
reference:
I’m
just
over
6
feet
tall,
or
184-185
cm.

Notice
where’s
the
tree’s
apex
is,
and
how
the
trunkline
sweeps
around
in
a
single
arc,
similar
to
a
letter
“C”
or
a
“(”
parenthesis
sign.
I
was
never
very
happy
with
that
simple
arc.
It
was
too
plain,
too
regular
for
my
taste,
even
with
the
movement
just
above
the
base;
too
much
like
a
“stick-figure”
tree.
I
spent
many
hours
studying
the
tree,
trying
to
decide
what
I
could
do
increase
the
visual
interest
of
the
trunk.
The
tree
is
about
45
years
old
(estimated)
and
perhaps
my
most
valued.
You
can
see
its
girth
in
the
picture.
Most
of
the
trunk
could
not
be
changed
without
using
techniques
with
which
I
am
not
familiar
enough,
and
I
had
no
wish
to
take
a
chance
on
ruining
its
image.
I
finally
concluded
that
a
change
in
the
direction
of
the
apex
would
increase
the
visual
interest
as
I
wanted,
would
enhance
the
tree’s
image,
and
was
within
my
skills.
A
little
consultation
with
a
professional
helped
me
decide.
Over
the
last
several
months
of
subscribing
to
Bonsai
Mirai
Live,
I
have
learned
a
good
deal
about
the
annual
phases
of
growth
in
temperate-zone
plants.
As
I
described
in
an
earlier
post
(you
can
see
that
post

here),
a
temperate-zone
tree
such
as
a
ponderosa
spends
the
first
part
of
the
growing
season
producing
foliage
to
supply
itself
with
metabolic
fuel.
Then,
at
a
certain
point
in
the
season,
production
of
new
foliage
shuts
down
and
the
tree’s
resources
start
to
be
directed
into
production
of
new
vascular
tissue,
including
sapwood
and
root
tissue.

In
pines,
the
start
of
this
transition
is
signaled
by
the
shedding
of
three-year-old
needles.
The
vascular-growth
phase
is
also
the
second-best
time
of
year
for
major
structural
work
on
a
temperate-zone
tree,
so
the
shedding
of
old
needles
signals
the
start
of
this
work
window
in
a
pine.
My
ponderosas
started
shedding
old
needles
in
mid-September.
My
goal,
as
I
said,
was
to
introduce
a
change
of
direction
in
the
upper
trunk
and
orient
the
apex
to
the
left.
This
picture
shows
the
upper
part
of
the
tree
after
the
old
wire
had
been
removed.
Some
of
the
branches
had
relaxed
a
little,
but
not
a
lot;
they
had
been
wired
for
two
years.

In
spite
of
the
angle
of
the
picture,
the
apex
was
still
oriented
to
the
right.

One
of
the
top
branches
had
to
be
removed
and
an
old
branch
stump
cut
off
before
the
change
could
be
made.

A
single
slanting
cut
took
off
the
unneeded
branch
and
the
old
stub.

Cut
paste
was
applied
due
to
the
size
of
the
cut.

New
copper
wire
was
put
on
and
the
bend
was
made
just
above
the
new
cut.
I
made
the
bend
as
severe
as
I
could
without
risking
a
break

severe
enough
that
a
few
small
tears
opened
in
the
bark
of
what
was
now
the
outside
of
the
curve.
That
was
actually
OK;
they
will
heal
(with
a
little
cut
paste
to
help),
and
they
told
me
when
to
stop
bending. Several
of
the
top
branchlets
had
to
be
rolled
so
that
their
former
undersides
wouldn’t
become
their
upper
sides
and
be
exposed
to
direct
sunlight
to
which
they
were
not
acclimated.

The
new
apical
structure
will
need
a
few
years
to
fill
in
well.

The
tree
is
due
for
repotting
next
spring.
At
that
time,
its
planting
angle
will
be
be
adjusted
and
the
front
rotated
to
show
more
of
the
base.
I
can’t
be

exactly

sure
of
the
new
planting
angle
and
new
front
until
I
actually
repot
the
tree,
but
the
next
picture
gives
you
a
pretty
good
idea
of
what
each
will
be.

Finished
for
now.
I
like
this
movement
and
image
better.

The
orange
arrow
shows
the
new
apex.
As
it
develops
and
fills
in,
I
will
probably
introduce
a
small
movement
back
to
the
right,
at
the
very
top.
I’m
going
to
do
what
I
can
to
encourage
a
new
bud
to
break
near
the
base
of
the
branch
to
the
right
of
the
apical
area
(yellow
arrow).
If
that
happens
I’ll
be
able
to
shorten
that
branch.
Adjustments
to
various
other
branches
will
also
be
needed,
given
how
much
of
a
change
I’ve
made
in
the
tree’s
overall
design
and
character.

Bill
Valavanis
and
Ryan
Neil
have
both
recommended
that
I
move
this
tree
out
of
a
rectangular
pot;
possibly
into
a
round,
possibly
into
an
oval
if
I
decide
to
include
that
little
top
fillip
I
mentioned.
I
have
a
large
mica
oval
that
will
serve
until
I
can
find
an
appropriate
ceramic
pot
for
this
tree.

For
now,
I’m
giving
it
a
good
regimen
of
several
kinds
of
solid
fertilizer,
to
be
sure
it
has
a
good
supply
of
nutritional
“building
blocks”
as
it
recovers
from
all
the
pruning,
wiring,
twisting
and
general
manhandling
I
did
to
it!


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