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bonsaiboy
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Norfolk Island Pine Project

Hi all. After my recent failure with my schefflera, I decided to start anew with a Norfolk Island Pine tree. I can only hope that this will work out, as the tree itself is tricky to work with, and I have never seen one done that looks like a "real" bonsai.

Here is a picture of the tree before any work was done.
[url=https://img23.imageshack.us/i/piney.jpg/][img=https://img23.imageshack.us/img23/8232/piney.th.jpg][/url]

This is a close-up of the trunk. I thought this angle would present the best view of the trunk.
[url=https://img695.imageshack.us/i/piney2.jpg/][img=https://img695.imageshack.us/img695/4886/piney2.th.jpg][/url]

And last is a picture of the tree after some pruning and wiring.
[url=https://img24.imageshack.us/i/bonsaipiney.jpg/][img=https://img24.imageshack.us/img24/2226/bonsaipiney.th.jpg][/url]

I'm hoping it doesn't die from shock, as it was also transplanted yesterday. Nevertheless, I suppose one doesn't gain with no sacrifice. I'm also hoping that with age and training, it will take on a form more like that of a classical informal upright.
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Victrinia Ridgeway
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Re: Norfolk Island Pine Project

bonsaiboy wrote:Hi all. After my recent failure with my schefflera, I decided to start anew with a Norfolk Island Pine tree. I can only hope that this will work out, as the tree itself is tricky to work with, and I have never seen one done that looks like a "real" bonsai.
Bonsaiboy...

I am curious as to why you chose the species? Having never seen one done that looks like a "real" bonsai... I have to comment that generally that is so because the growth habit of the species does not lend itself well to more sophisticated bonsai forms.

Are you restricted to indoor tolerant species?

Victrinia
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

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bonsaiboy
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I am curious as to why you chose the species? Having never seen one done that looks like a "real" bonsai...
I choose it because not only was it the only readily available bonsai material I had around, but it is also an (indoorable) conifer that seemed to be promising if it was trained in ways that others may have overlooked.
Are you restricted to indoor tolerant species?
I would consider myself a pioneer of various species of indoor tolerant bonsai that are not used as of yet. I do, however, also grow some outdoor bonsai as well.
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Victrinia Ridgeway
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I wish you every success with it. :)

Food for thought... As you are bonsaiboy and not man, I have to assume there is a certain element of youth about you, so time is very much on your side. I hope that your passion for the art will burn bright for years to come. I will give you a small kernal of advice though... the material we choose to work on will determine the degree of success we achive. I never advocate for a newer learner to start with a seed, but with proper training, a seed can become a great bonsai. It has spent it's whole life in that pursuit. A young tree, not trained from the begining can generally have the potential of looking like a nice young tree in a pot, but rarely exhibits the grace I think you are trying to find within it. To achieve something credible (if that is your goal) it would be better to have one truly fine tree than 20 attempts that leave you wanting.

Discerning the true potential of a tree takes as much skill and experiance as knowing how to get it there.

When I first started, every tree was an opportunity for me to practice my craft. Now I can go through entire nurseries and collections and find nothing which has the potential I require. Because every tree is an obligation, and a promise of my time and effort I put the bar fairly high compared to most. I also recognize the value of being willing to buy nature's or someone else's time. There is a misunderstanding of what constitutes being a bonsai artist. The mantra seems to be "I'm going to do it all my self, and so I'll take this twig and turn it into a treasure." as if that is somehow more valid. These same people pour over bonsai books and magazines and are inspired to want to create the same things they see, which is completely impossible for them because they deny themselves the one thing those other folks do not.... material worthy of their vision.

As I said... this is just food for thought. Not meant in any way to discourage you from your current path. We all have walked this path to greater or lesser degrees. But at some point, you'll grow out of material of this nature. I hope the rememberance of this conversation will help illuminate the path in a different direction for you. Some people never decide to depart from the first path, and that's fine too.. there is room enough for all, but somehow I think you'll leave it sooner than most. :wink:

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

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bonsaiboy
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Victrinia,
It is understandable why you would thing that this material is unsutable for bonsai. However, when you talk about how you pass up nursury material because it doesn’t have the right potental, are you refering to the species of plants, or just the way they grew? It is in my opinion that a great many species of trees and shrubs can be bonsiaed, even if they are not trained into traditional styles. Styles such as the banyan and flat-top are not seen in native japanese trees, but are seen in trees that grow in other parts of the world. However, I feel that Norfolk Island Pines can be trained to resemble the traditional bonsai styles, althought the principals of training one may be different from that of a normal pine or juniper. It is by using a different method of training that I intend to shape it into an informal upright.
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Rosaelyn
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I have also recently acquired a Norfolk Pine - as they are quite plentiful this time of year, and I thought it would be some wonderful greenery for my desk at work. (And the needles are so pleasantly soft!) There are actually 5 of them in the pot, which should make a nice forest when I decide to repot them. (I will have to verify that during my repot, as many I see online are multi-trunk.)

My only concern is that I have read these do not always respond well pruning. Since I did not spend much on the lil guy, I am not too concerned with failure. However, so far I am only practicing the pinching technique I read about - removing only the 2-3 needles of the very tip, to encourage more branching (which it already seems to be accomplishing nicely in most places). And I've been removing any brown needles I see.

How is yours doing since your recent work, Bonsaiboy?
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees. ~ Hal Borland

Victrinia Ridgeway
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BB....

My motivation (or lack there of, when it comes to nursery material) is based on the quality of the material more than anything... but with certain species as with Norfolks... it's just that their growth habit does not lend itself to bonsai very well... especially if one is wanting to approach it from any of the traditional forms like informal uprights. Anything which grows as an internode/branch whorl... internode/branch whorl.... will be hard pressed to make a nice bonsai unless it's been grown for that purpose it's whole life. Even JBP can be ruined at a young age without proper training. But at least with JBP they have latent buds all over their branches which will readily break back if you prune them correctly. Norfolks apparently have to be pinched, traditional pruning will only kill the branch in the long run.

The point of my comment is that while the path to bonsai is paved with dead trees, one will find that the dead trees become fewer and further between when working with better material which has either been trained by an inhospitable enviornment, or by someone's hand for the majority of it's life.

Unfortunately the tree you are working on has long relative internodes and no taper. Very little of whatever training method you are planning will change that, because wood is added to a tree uniformly. And while there are some ways to try and mask the problem with sacrifice branches thickening up parts of the tree, you are at a disadvantage because the trees lower branches are so much weaker than the upper ones. So they will never catch up to do the job of creating taper. Without knowing me well you can not know that I mean these observations on the material with all good and gentle intentions. So I hope you will not take it as a personal thing, but rather an honest assesment of what you are working with.

I think there is nothing more important in sharing this art than to nurture the interest of someone who is trying to learn... so believe me when I tell you that I hope you'll learn about the species with this tree and make something you enjoy of it.

https://www.bonsai-bci.com/species/norfolk.html

If you haven't read it... there are some good comments about pruning on the above page.

And you are correct... a great many species can have bonsai techniques applied to them. Some fare better than others... and some just won't play at all. I would give much to have a Madrone (a native paper barked broad leafed evergreen), but there is nothing you can do to it to make it's 6"+ leaves reduce in size. So instead I comfort myself with Stewartia... even if it's not an everygreen, it still has that papery bark I love. Sometimes you have to make compromises about what you can grow as bonsai... and just because something can be a bonsai does not mean it should.

But as I said before... all of this is just food for thought, nothing more... learn as much as you can on whatever you can, but know that you'll likely outgrow it.

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

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Gandalph
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Is there any followup to this? Did the tree survive the chops? How does it look today?
Thanks

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