2015 April Branch Structure Demonstration

Tien from Bonsai Sensation talked about branch structure and development at the April meeting.  Members were treated to a thoughtful and informative demonstration and discussion covering issues relevant to the placement and development of branches.  Tien shared many of his learnings from long experience at the nursery and on many occasions challenged normal approaches.  Some of his ideas are included below for your consideration:

  • Branch development techniques do vary from species to species.  Top growth in the White Pine below has been constantly trimmed to encourage growth in the lower branches.  This approach will not work with a cedar.
  • Early spring and late summer are considered the best times to work on pines and cedars.
  • Maintaining compact growth on pines can be difficult.  For younger trees, allowing strong growth and then cutting back can assist but once crackly bark develops, new shoots are rare and grafting may be the only option.
  • 2x2x2 branch structure if continued leads to a problem with branch structure.  May be better to have a main leader and develop branch structure from this.
  • When to wire over/under, clockwise or counter clockwise?  Will depend on what you want to do with the branch.  Bend down, bend up, twist clockwise or twist counter clockwise.  
  • Twist branches to help get shoot junctions horizontal rather than vertical.
  • Jin pliers are essential when bending/twisting branch wiring to achieve desirable branch structure.  Use the pliers on the wire , not the branch!!
  • Prefers un-anodised wire as it is much easier to see and reduces the likelihood of overlooking wiring that may be cutting in to a branch.
  • Leave wiring as long as is necessary to set the branch provided it is not cutting in.
  • For mature maples in a "refinement" mode, Tien suggested feeding in spring may be undesirable to avoid strong growth which just gets cut off.  Spring feeding for trees in development is appropriate.
  • The recently acquired Japanese Maple - see photo below - has been suffering from leaf burn.  Tien is concerned that the fine and extensive ramification may be beyond the trees capacity to support and is planning to reduce the load.
The cedar shown below was styled by Tien during the demonstration and reflects Tien's personal styling preferences.


White Pine
Japanese Maple - 

Members displayed a broad range of species on the night and a selection of these are included below.

White Beech

Small tree - variety not known


Weeping Wattle

Portuguese Laurel

Black Pine


Chinese Elm


Scotts Pine

Chinese Elm

Japanese Maple

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