Partial Defoliation of a European Beech

I bought this early last year from an auction at the local club.  It’s the biggest bonsai I have and it was grown from scratch by someone else over a long period! I can only hope my efforts at field growing turn out as well in 20+ years.  Anyway, it spent last year recovering from being lifted from the ground and this year flushed out pretty strongly.  I read up a bit on defoliating beech and am informed that they don’t like entire removal of foliage but only partial and a leaf must be left on the end of each branch as a sap drawer.  There’s a lot of ramification to develop and I wanted the inner branches to receive more light so I was selective.

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I think that the tree would benefit from a tilt at repotting time  so that the trunk is more vertical.  We’ll see.  I’ll branch prune and wire in the autumn.

Pruning a Beech to Shape

About six weeks ago I performed some drastic pruning of this European Beech material that I’ve been growing over the last six years.  Since ground layering a new root system three years ago, it’s been slow to recover.  Finally off to a vigorous start this year so I knew it was ready for shaping by pruning.

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Before work: May 

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Spreading newly established nebari

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Before: leggy growth and few primary branches

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Step 1: Establish a final height of the tree and future apex.

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Step 2: Prune back leggy primary branches.

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Step 3: Go one further and eliminate undesirable primary branches.

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Step 4: Feed heavily and wait for possible backbudding along the trunk.

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After: Late June.  New growth on branch tips.

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New buds from above

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An abundance of adventitious budding.  Happy days!

All being well, I’ll wire growth in the autumn and then put it into a bonsai training pot next year.

Forest Chump (Creating a Beech Group Part 2)

An apt title given that I thought it would be a good idea to start putting the forest together at 8:30 last night.  Chump indeed!  Anyway, I was raring to go and one of the saplings was breaking out in leaf so I went ahead, naively thinking that it wouldn’t take that long.  Here’s a photo timeline of the composition so far…

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8:30 – 9:00pm Looked for this wire rack that I knew was somewhere in the garage.

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9:00 – 9:30pm secured rack to the tray and filled a base layer of soil.

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9:30 – 10:00pm sketched the tree positions on paper to give an idea of how to proceed.

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10:30pm First three trees in rough positions and secured.

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More added. A slight windswept look beginning to emerge.

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11:30pm Only a few left to add.  The original plan abandoned long ago…

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Post midnight. The forest assembled.  Soil was added outside in floodlit conditions.  Well watered in.

I don’t mind admitting that it was a demanding project but I enjoyed it.  The biggest headache was doing it in the kitchen (garage is full of baby related items…)  I underestimated how long it would take me to secure each tree in the right position and how much concentration was needed to ensure spacing was appropriate, perspective developed and all the other ‘rules’ suggested for creating a bonsai forest.  The project is a bit rough and ready at the minute but will hopefully look better when I get a chance tomorrow to prune tree heights and some long branches.  Have to keep reminding myself   that this is only the start of a project which will take years to mature, develop and improve. Part 3 later in the week.