The Black Pine Duet

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

After we got through all the Trident Maples, I was task to work on two Black Pines.  The work is never over it seems.  Haha!  Mr. Tanaka says that the wiring season is starting to I’ll be doing a lot of that for the rest of the year.  The first Black Pine I worked on belongs to a customer and the second one belongs to Mr. Tanaka.  Normally, September is not the best time to work on Black Pines because the needles are still soft so I had to be very careful not to break the needles.  The safest time to wire is after November.  These two Black Pines were not de-candle this year so the needles had more time to harden off.  Lets do this!


Here is the customer’s Black Pine that I worked on. It’s a root over rock style.  I always appreciate a root over rock Black Pine because they take so much time to make.  Mr. Tanaka at this point had already cut off unwanted branches so all I had to do was wire and style the tree.  The tree is about 53cm tall.




What I did and what I learned

The main thing I did on this tree was bend many of the branches downwards.  Black Pines always look older when the branches are down.  I wired most of the branches and made fan shaped pads out of them.  I cut off skinny branches that were too long instead of bending them around to shorten them.  Shortening branches with heavy bends is one way to make a tree look good for a show or a demonstration, but inevitably always have be to removed and replaced with a more suitable shorter branch in the long run.  The ends of the small branches I slightly curved them up so that the needles are pointing slightly up and outwards.

For the most part, Mr. Tanaka didn’t  change the tree too much.  He did however moved the lowest right side branch to the right to show off more of the trunk.  It’s important to show off the transition from roots to trunk.  How I set the branch hide that transition so that it went from roots to foliage and the trunk was missing.  The lower part of the trunk is the core of the tree and always needs to be seen.  If you don’t see a trunk, the tree doesn’t really look like a tree anymore.  It looks more like a bush.  I always thought that the roots and rock were used in place of the trunk but it turns out that that is not the case. That was what I learned the most on this tree.

Future plans for the tree

Next year the tree will be de-candled to develop more ramification in the branches and shorter needles.  Obviously the needles are way too long for this size tree.  We’re also going to focus on the over health too so the tree might get repotted in the following Spring.

To the next one…


Here is the second Black Pine that needed to be styled and wired.  This tree is about 74cm tall and the trunk is about 21cm wide.  I was surprised that Mr. Tanaka gave me this tree to work on.  He bought this tree earlier in the year and I didn’t think he’d allow me to work on it so soon.  It was a funny story when we brought it into the workshop.  He was talking to a visitor and the visitor ask if I was going to be working on the tree.  Mr. Tanaka says yes, then said that I do good work.  I looked at him and laughed (nervous giggle really) and Mr. Tanaka looks at me and says, “oh, is your work not good?  We can put this tree back if you feel you’re not ready for it?”  I quickly said no! and told him I was ready!