Ballymacbrennan Birch

1 Noel Summer 2011

August 2011

In the above picture you can see the trunk of a very thin two year old silver birch seedling that is the focus of this post.  It was self sown in the yard of the house I was previously renting and came from a mature birch growing in another part of the premises.  I was surprised that it took root in this rocky ground but after two years of continued growth with no help from me I decided this was a hardy specimen that could cope with the demands of being bonsai material.  I had to move house that autumn so in October I took a big chance and excavated it from the rock and put in a pot of free draining soil.

2 oct 11

Careful excavation revealed a great, flat nebari spread. The roots couldn’t go down so they went out in search of water.


Note the lack of soil and root mass. There was nothing else to take – this was it, barring a couple of root ends wedged in the rock.  Yes, the trunk is tinged blue because the adjacent barn had been spray painted by the landlord earlier that month!

3 oct 11

Potted up. Fingers were crossed.


Three years later and thriving apart from the usual annual aphid infestation.


Very little pruning was done over the three years, just plenty of feeding.


Before work April 2015


Future nebari for thickening.


The best side. More root division and taper required in future.



Repotting finished into an overlarge Walsall pot that I think suits the dark bark nicely.

I didn’t get round to any pruning of the top before the close of day but will do that asap and take it back to a skeleton framework for a future bonsai.  The lowest branch was originally a sacrifice branch but I’m now unsure as to whether to keep it as a twin trunk or maybe even chop the straight trunk and keep the sacrifice as a new leader.  I love the better movement offered by the sacrifice branch.  I’ll decide after a while of studying it.