6.SH APE THE BONSAI
When shaping trees, the objective is to manipulate
the tree, without scarring the bark, to create the
illusion of years of natural stress from the forces
of nature. Start slow, with gentle tension. You can
gradually increase the tension over time. Here are
» Wire. When wiring, use care not to damage the
tree. Don’t wrap the wire too tightly around the wood.
Check the wiring often, removing and replacing it
as the tree grows. Begin by coiling one end of the
copper wire around the base of the tree, and wind it
along the trunk or branch you wish to bend (Figure J).
Be certain to lay the wire evenly so as to properly
distribute the pressure. When the tree has been
wired, bend the branch or trunk carefully with both
hands, gripping evenly to avoid snapping the tree.
» Tie. Tie a piece of thin hemp rope or cotton twine K
around the pot. Now tie a piece of twine to the
branch you wish to bend, and pull it down with the
string until it curves as you like. To maintain the
tension, tie the loose end to the string that’s tied
around the pot (Figure K).
» Weight. Choose a small stone, not heavy enough
to break the tree, and hang it from the trunk or
branch with a small length of wire or string. Don’t
hang the weight from the very tip, as you could break
the tree. Instead, start 1/3 of the way from the tip,
wrap the wire or string evenly around until you reach
the end, and then let the stone dangle (Figure L). L
Depending on the thickness of the trunk, and the
shape you intend to create, you might use these
techniques over the course of a season, or even for
a year or more.
Brookelynn Morris lives in NorCal and loves to grow. Her
garden right now includes climbing roses, English roses,
four kinds of clematis, red sunflowers, dusty miller, abutilon,
raspberries, foxgloves, lots of succulents, and herbs.
Potting a perfect tree into a perfect pot is
not the final step. This art must be displayed,
and thus honored. Placing the tree on a
small stand gives it a sense of importance,
and elevates it above the common. Consider
something simple, such as a piece of cork, a
modest wooden plant stand with short legs
that doesn’t throw off the balance, a slab of
raw slate, or a lacquered tray.