Deciding to remove a literati pine branch

Pine beforeI was recently tidying up a Scots Pine literati that I have a great fondness for and have been working on for many years on and off. The trunk has some lovely bark on the lower section and just enough movement to make it of interest. When I was given this tree it had already grown a little tall and leggy and would never be any good as a normal informal upright – the height suggested literati. The image on the left is how the tree looked after tidying up the old needles and a little light wiring to keep the shape of the pads.

Pine potential

To make this work the foliage has to be very light and after a very long hard look at this tree I wanted to see what it might be like without the lower branch. This seemed to be an anchor

to what should be a tall elegant tree reaching up for the heavens. Rather than commit it is always sensible to try to understand what the tree would look like without the branch. A white cloth against the white background gives an impression:

Pine after removal

The remaining pads have a consistency to them, the apex needing a little more development but clearly having the dome in the right place to link the other three. This gave me enoughconfidence that my initial hunch was correct and so the branch was removed. However it was kept on as a jin to suggest age and to point to the empty space emphasizing the floating feeling of the retained foliage.

 

One feature of note during this process of bark stripping was on one of the small branch stubs where the wire had clearly been bitten in the bark over the last year of growth, however when stripping the underlying wood as part of the jin it was revealed that the wood had not been effected. The soft tissue damage had not translated to the wood. When you think about it the wire can never actual cut into the wood itself but it is the growth around the wire which causes it to appear to bite in. If this is left for more than one growth season the new layer of cells added annually to the wood will eventually not have enough room and so the wire will affect the underlying wood. It is therefore perfectly possible that once the wire is removed the growth of the bark in the following year will start to normalise and the wire marks would slowly grow out. This is why wire marks are not as serious as they appear on thick barked species.

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