While I first started a batch of black pine seedlings in March of 2006, I also started a second batch in March of 2009. It was somewhat bad timing given that I had to move all my trees to SoCal soon after; and the result was that I ditched the vast majority of the seedlings, keeping only about a dozen for myself.
I had bought the seeds in Japan during my second trip to see Kokufu; I thought that they were red pine seed, but, it was obvious by the middle of the second growing season that they were in fact black pine. That was disappointing to me because I had been hoping for the more slender needles and growth habit of the red pines and for a slightly different growing adventure.
My friend Bernard was one of the major recipients of the batch of seedling, he lives in San Francisco and was eager to adopt a large portion of them. Since I was traveling back and forth to the Bay Area on a regular basis I was able to work on the trees with him. Bernard is a skilled horticulturalist and dedicated bonsai grower. I consider his batch of pines to be some of the best pines that I’ve been involved in creating. It’s been a team effort to make the trees with Bernard providing the space and doing the growing.
I don’t have enough superlatives for the tree below. It’s by far my favorite tree of the batch at this point. It’s an upside-down exposed root tree, the colander that it is growing in is about 11″ square. Bernard and I spent a couple tense hours twisting it into a pretzel after the second growing season and then potting it into a special container so that the foliage could stick out of a small hole below the mass of roots.
I counted the trees while I was at Bernard’s place – he has 22 pine project trees; one from my 2006 batch, twenty from this second batch and one more…more on that later.