Beginner - Limber Pine Design

I’ve been learning with field grown and nursery stock trees for a few years now and recently acquired my first yamadori in need of some design help. The previous owner explained that it is a Limber Pine collected by the BackCountry Boys. He apparently has had it in this Anderson Flat for 6-7 years and hasn’t worked on the tree. I plan to repot this upcoming year and allow the tree to gain some vigor before any serious styling. I figure this will allow me plenty of time to learn more about design and plan for the first styling. I’m hoping some of you may share some design thoughts and maybe suggest some helpful course content for me to review. I hope to share updates on this tree along the way.

(Current picture is less than ideal, I hope to capture some higher quality photos soon - currently limited to one photo upload, being a new poster)

Container Selection:
My current thought is to repot this tree out of the Anderson Flat and into a ceramic container. Would there be value in repotting back into the Anderson Flat and hold on the ceramic vessel until I have completed a first styling?

I’ve browsed the Mirai ceramics and viewed the related course content. This container (Rustic Round No. 44 – Mirai Goods) sparked my interest given the analogous blue hues that come through the container’s cracks and given that the texture pairs well with the rough bark on the tree. The brown coloring of the clay also seemed to pair better with the bark on this tree as opposed to many of the other ‘reddish’ containers I was drawn to.
(ex: Refined Round No. 89 – Mirai Goods).

I’m unsure if a round container would be the best pairing for this tree given that it has a lot of masculine qualities currently. Maybe the initial styling is necessary prior to serious discussion of containers.


My current thought for the design would be to utilize this as the front with the branch marked in red converted to a jin to create some asymmetry, push the apex over the edge of a round container.


If the tree was collected 6-7 years ago I’d focus on repotting. Seems like you have plan for the design of the tree so you can make a container selection now and style it once it’s recovered from the repot.

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Thats a wonderful pine.

I personally would develop a twin trunk tree. Looks to me like the main trunk will be one on the left. Theres movement here, but a lot of it currently sits at around three turns. You should clarify the line from base to tip and try to incorporate a few more angles of turn. At the same time you need to commit to harmony, tension or dynamic design.

Since I see this being rugged, angular and stout, I would line it up with a rugged, stout, somewhat informal rectangle pot. I dont think round works. Square maybe.


Round containers are best with trees where the apex is outside the boundaries of the pot - extreme left or right shift. Otherwise, suitable containers are oval or rectangles.

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Thanks for the reply! My current thought is to go with a slanting design and play with harmony. I was encouraged by one of Ryan’s beginner design videos in which he explained that trees can evolve between tension and harmony in future redesigns.

These are the current significant lines that I see in the tree. I don’t see these lines as being very angular and given the longer foliage I still lean toward the apex overhanging a circular pot. I think I might acquire an option for a round container since I have several rectangles already.

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What container shape would you lean toward with this tree?

I think you need to try out a few different shapes. I would suggest a straight-sided oval if you are tired of rectangles, but that might still be too feminine. I agree with Yugen that the tree is masculine and tending toward the rugged. Try a color of bare clay that complements the trunk.

I think the first photo makes a better front. The lower part of the main trunk drops back allowing the apex to turn back towards the viewer. I especially like the right trunk’s relationship to the ones on the left. The lower half draws the viewer in and gives depth to the design. IMHO.

I checked out the pots you gave links to, which are about 11" dia. Is that the size you are looking for? The tree must be fairly large.

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You may still need development work on roots before going in fancy pot. Consider repot into present container including root work with pumice substrate and save ceramic till next repot in about 3-4 years. Only begin major cutting after tree is reestablished from this current repot. I have about a 25 year old one in pumice and terra cotta bulb pot working on some trunk size. Do you want the trunk any bigger? Most all foliage needed to get that size with exception to remove or wire some to get Sun to branches not getting enough of it. Interesting subject tree.

Thank you for the thought. I might consider constructing a box for the tree in order to introduce a graded reduction in root mass. Given the relatively small size of the trunk, I have selected a ceramic that is ~8.5"x8.5". I believe the Anderson Flat that the tree has been in all this time is in the ballpark of 14" x 14". I’m unsure how the tree would respond to such a reduction all at once, so this graded transition might be a way to move forward with caution. I imagine that the grow box might allow for a slight advantage in trunk/branch girth development relative to the ceramic container. Anyone have a recommendation for mirai live content that relates to the topic of acceptable root reduction for a tree in this stage of development? Maybe one of the nursery stock series? I’m hoping that the root quality is better than nursery stock at this point but I suppose I should prepare for the worst case scenario.