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Wiring Like Craig Coussins

Wiring Like Craig Coussins

Zack Clayton, Ken Schoenfeld and I were all lucky enough to take a BYOT workshop from Craig Coussins at Dawes the first week of June this year. For me, it was my second opportunity. Linda and I took a workshop from him up at Wildwood Gardens four years ago. In both situations, Craig used a wiring method like one I'd never seen, nor have I seen anyone else teach. Craig has been practicing the art of Bonsai for a number of years, he is credited for founding the Bonsai Society of Scotland.

Here's the trick he'll say. I needed to find a way to save time while wiring when I did demonstrations, so I count the number of branches that I need to wire and then take a length of wire long enough to reach the tip (and he means to the very tip) of the longest branch to be wired. Then he folds lengths of wire into a multi wired bundle enough to wire the number of branches that you want to wire. I've discovered that there's more to this than counting, and length, but it takes practice just to look good - like a lot of sports do. Think about which branches need a certain guage of wire. Also, think about anchoring the ends in the pot if you are not wiring in balanced branch pairs.

One of the beauties of this method is that because you are creating a bundle you won't cross wires (as often). However, as I mentioned, don't over do it. I tried 12 branches and it gets awkward. I planned for 6 and 6 wire bundles and actually needed 7 and 5.

One of Craig's instructions is wire all the branches to their tip. And he means all the branches. Then and only then does he start bending the branches. He says that bending them only once minimizes the damage to the cambium. Also, this technique allows a number of extreme bends to be made to bring branch tips into a plane creating a foliage pad where none existed before. It is only then that Craig begins to remove excess branches. As he reaches the end of a branch he takes the tip and points it upward. He says that if you leave them pointing outward then the tree thinks that you want that branch to elongate. Tipping it up, causes back budding according to Craig.

Of course we were working with stock that had been previously styled as bonsai, so I can only suspect that it is OK when using raw stock to remove some of the branches to allow yourself enough room to do all the wiring that you will be doing.

I will try to remember to bring one of my Coussins styled wired trees to the picnic.

Ken Schultz