Several years ago I bought 50 Japanese black pine, Pinus thunbergiana, seedlings. I hadn’t worked much with pines but wanted to give it another try, and I knew that JBP does very well here in the Deep South. Hence plenty of raw material.
I planted about 30-40 of them in the ground, most in a clearing at the back of my property; the rest went into either pots or another ground growing area in full sun. Then I waited to see how they’d do. I lost some the first year, then more the second year. By the third year it was time to have some trees removed from my property, and the tree cutters found a great spot to roll the logs prior to removing them – right over the bulk of my pines. I didn’t find any trace of them.
Now I was down to about eight seedlings left. I did some in-ground training on the ones I’d planted out of harm’s way, and left the ones in pots alone. Another couple of years went by, and one by one they all died – all except for one lone specimen in a pot. I ignored this survivor, except for feeding and overwatering it. I had stuck it in a pot with really lousy soil – I’m not even sure how I put that soil together, it was so mucky. But the tree trooped on, growing ever so slowly.
Earlier this year I noticed this tree had grown a pretty long leader, but had some nice lower branching. Since it had decided not to die, despite every effort on my part, I went ahead and cut off the leader. Then proceeded to ignore it some more.
Today I got a wild hair and decided this valiant JBP deserved a shot at a bonsai pot. So here’s the result:
It’s a nice looking little tree, isn’t it? While it’s not particularly large, it is at least 10 years old. The trunk has some nice movement, and there’s a decent set of branches. Now, I’m pretty confident this guy isn’t going to last through the coming winter, maybe not even to the arrival of winter, but we do have an understanding between us. It’s going right back to neglect-ville, which is my bonsai secret weapon. If it survives, I’ll drag it out in spring and post an updated photo. If not, then of course we won’t speak of it again.