Sometimes I wonder how many mature trees a person can have and properly maintain as bonsai before they are a full-time practitioner, if not a professional. I took this tree off my bench a week ago convinced that if I left it any longer it would not be good for the lower and interior buds. Each year, most Japanese Black pine need to be cleaned up to reduce the density of the needles so that light can reach each of the branch tips evenly. With even light distribution comes even growth.
Over the summer I decandled most of this tree, but I left some of the weaker buds to grow out, effectively allowing them to become much stronger compared to the branches that were decandled. Now the tree is too dense to leave for the entire winter without losing some of the important interior growth.
What started as a 4-hour long needle pulling session soon turned to some touchup of the wiring. I find that mature black pine need to be touched up at least every couple years, or completely rewired every three years. Even with decandling slowing the growth of the tree, the branches still manage to make short extensions; before long you’re looking at a lot of vertical branchlets rather than the beauty of the needles surrounding a dormant bud.
I’ve owned this tree for a long time, almost as long as I’ve been doing bonsai. For a more complete history with photos you can see this thread on Bonsai Nut.
Five partial days of work later, with plenty of interruptions I finally put the finishing touches on adjusting the wiring and branch positions. Reworking the tree each fall is really not absolutely needed, but I find it to be immensely rewarding to have a few detailed trees in the garden at all times.