Austrian Black Pine Stream

I found this week’s stream to be very informative. In hindsight, my experimenting with an Austrian Black Pine fits Ryan’s description of the response to decandlling, pinching, and shoot cutting very well, but I did not manage to put it together in such a concise format for myself. My Austrian Black Pine on its own roots has fairly long needles that are starting to reduce as I build bud density. Most sources indicate a 75 - 150 mm long needle for the species. I also have a grafted tree that has much shorter, compact needles like the ones in the stream so I am thinking it and those that Ryan showed are one of the more compact growth cultivars such as Oregon Green which was mentioned on the stream. My ungrafted tree has fairly rough bark so I am thinking they graft the cultivars on to the species root stock - should be a good match. Finally, I got bunch of back buds at a five year old whorl as shown in the picture below on the grafted tree where I was only trying to get it to recover from an aggressive initial repot. I will need to start styling this one this year.


Since a lot of people were speculating on the source of the 2 Austrian Black Pines used in the streams, here is the history that I have on the more refined tree (that Ryan didn’t work on). The trees saw pretty much the same treatment, I was just able to advance one quicker than the other because it showed more promise early on (when I knew very little about pines). The only other difference is the development tree spent the winter of 2018-2019 at Peter Tea’s north east of Sacramento, while the more refined tree wintered in Santa Barbara that winter following the early November 2018 wedge-cut-trunk-bend at a Mirain Pines class.

May 2012 (Boulder, Colorado)

  • Purchased from nursery in Longmont, CO.
  • About 3 feet tall.
  • Austrian Black Pine but grafted onto unknown root stock (maybe Scots Pine?)

June 2012 (Boulder, CO)
• First styling (by a novice)


April 2013 (Boulder, CO)
• Tree undergoes first repot out of nursery can into shallower plastic training pot (no photos)
• Equal parts pumice, scoria, baked slate, and a turfus-like baked clay (a different brand of clay for baseball diamonds). Particle size 1/16 ” to ¼”.
• Only technique used is pruning and removal of more than 2 buds (no decandling or pinching). Pot size reduction seems to be main driver in needle size reduction.

April 2015 (Boulder, CO)

  • 2nd styling completed in August 2014 at a Peter Tea workshop hosted by Adam J. (no photos)
  • Significant reductions in height and branch length, hence the “Sumo” name is adopted
  • Photo below is from the following April (2015)
  • Tree is sent off to Tom A’s collection in Boulder to be cared for during the next 18 months while I take a job in Santa Barbara, CA since I only rented a small studio apartment in SB and returned home to Boulder 1 or 2 weekends a month.


November 2016 (Boulder, CO)

  • Tree is picked up from Tom’s and prepped for winter dormancy (pot buried in squeegee gravel in wind-sheltered raised bed in my yard
  • Tree is very healthy since Tom had already started Pine Fundamentals class series at Mirai


July 2017 (Santa Barbara, CA)
• Tree is relocated to Santa Barbara with the rest of its tree, human and dog family
• Winter 2017-18 tree goes to a Lutheran church camp in Los Padres National Forest at 4500 feet elevation for 3 months of dormancy

February 2018
• Tree is repotted, following Mirai Pines I repotting class, into rectangular bonsai pot (no photos)
• 1:1:1 Acadama: Lava: Pumic mix (1/16” to ¼”)

November 2018 (St Helens, WA)
• Tree is taken up to Mirai Pines II fall class for further design and styling work
• Ryan suggests a trunk bend via a wedge cut to make a stouter looking shohin-sized tree
• After bend, tree returns to Santa Barbara and winters there.

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December 2019 (Santa Barbara, CA)
• Tree undergoes latest styling in pursuit of Shohin size.
• All styling and maintenance done with pruning and bud selection (no decandling or pinching)
• Tree goes to Mirai in March 2020 to be an Austrian Black Pine test subject

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Question about the wedge cut- how long will it take to fuse/heal at the wedge site and will the vascular system flow through the cut or around it when it heals?

The wedge cut was done in November 2018. I removed the rebar and guy-wire infrastructure that held the wedge cut together in December 2019. So 1 growing season was sufficient, but it was also a long growing season because the tree stayed in Santa Barbara for that entire time. I can imagine that a for a larger cut on a larger trunk, or if more torque is required to close the wedge, or if the growing season is shorter, you might consider letting it heal over 2 years. One thing to note on my wedge cut was that the next styling/design work I did in Dec 2019 also immediately established a new guy wire to compress the design which also continued to compress the wedge cut.

Since pines can move resources laterally as well as vertically, and due to the invasive/aggressive nature of the wedge cut, while the bark can heal over the wedge cut (meaning some resource flow is going across the wedge), the resource flow may never be as strong across the healed wedge cut. Therefore it may not be able to support all the immediate growth directly above the wedge cut on its own,. To compensate, the tree relies on the non-cut part to take up most of the resource transportation slack both immediately after the wedge cut and probably for 5 to 10 years, if not the rest of the life of the tree. Note the hardwood of the tree that was cut (98% of the 2 surfaces coming together when the cut is compressed) will never heal. So while there will be new cambium layer and bark formation over the exterior perimeter of the cut, and over the years the tree may add more hardwood at a radius farther out than the original cut, the internal hardwood of the tree that was cut will never fuse vascularly.

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Lani, The Mirai Livestream library also has a couple of videos where Ryan demonstrates and talks about wedge cuts in extensive detail. That’s probably 100x more accurate than any answer I could provide. :grin:

Okay, I’ll keep an eye out for those videos. Wedge cutting looks like and interesting procedure as long as it works!

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I think I need to decide which buds to keep. P. nigra will certainly back bud under the right conditions.