Japanese white pine from Michael Hagedorn's Crataegus Bonsai portfolio. Here's Michael's caption: "A Japanese White pine that was entered into the Taikan-ten. This was when I was a second-year apprentice."
Every time I visit Michael Hagedorn’s Crataegus Bonsai, I learn something new. If you want to enrich your understanding of bonsai, you could do a lot worse than reading and digesting everything Michael writes. His deep knowledge of bonsai combined with an unusual gift for our American English language will help guide you to the bonsai promised land.
This time it’s Michael’s post from yesterday: Big Difference Between ‘Decandling’ and ‘Breaking’ Pine Shoots… We’ll just show a couple pieces and encourage you to visit Crataegus for the whole story.
In Michael’s own words…
“There’s a storm of confusion around these two techniques…and it’s one of those things we don’t want to get wrong. Pines take a couple years to get back on track, once off track, and so they make us look at our mistakes for a long time.
I’ll try to make this short and sweet. For starters, how do we distinguish decandling from breaking/pinching?
Breaking/Pinching means taking part of the shoot off, usually with fingers, as the shoot is extending in early to mid-spring. This is before the needles have come out.” Continued below…
"Scots pine candles, before pinching."
"With the fleshy part of the fingers, pinch the candle according to its strength, taking more off for stronger ones, less for weaker, none for weakest."
Moving ahead a bit (visit Crataegus to see the photos and captions we skipped).
“Decandling means cutting off the entire pine candle off in late spring. Often the new needles have come out already.”
"With a sharp bud scissors, the candle is cut at the base."
And again after skipping some photos and captions, what Michael says next about the difference between Breaking/Pinching and Decandling is very important and we’d be remiss to skip it…
“Both techniques are appropriate…one isn’t cooler than another, one won’t win you accolades and the other not…we simply apply them to different pines.
Candles of single flush pines—such as Japanese White, Lodgepole, Shore, Scots, Limber—MAY be broken or pinched.
Candles of multiple flush pines—Japanese Black and Red—MAY be decandled.
I say MAY, because only strongly growing pines in good sun should be decandled or pinched.”
Michael has a lot more to say and show on Breaking/Pinching and Decandling and I strongly encourage you to visit Crataegus Bonsai for the whole story.
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