Checking up on a Beech Forest

Created this last year and haven’t touched it until now as it needed a long recovery period.  Some of the thinner/sparser trunks at the back are still weak and unfortunately I have lost one trunk in the middle.

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Before work.

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Evidence of neglect

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Side view

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After pruning the tallest trunks and shortening their height.  Weeds cleared.  Dead trunk cut down.

I’m relying on a lot of backbudding on the thinner trunks at the back and in future I need to wire or reposition a lot of the individual trees.  The past year has been about letting them establish.  It’s no coincidence that the two healthiest trees are the ones I grew in my garden whereas all the others were bought last year as a hedging bundle from the garden centre.

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Moved to a new position in full sun on the bench.  It’s crowded, I may need to build another one!

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.

Shamma Beech Prune

A very quick lop off the top of the main trunk.  I initially did this to promote better taper but  I like the idea of a possible kifu sized twin trunk tree.  It would be unusual as a bonsai style though, with the minor trunk at the back.  It’s been supported by its new roots for a year now and growth was minimal last year.  I plan to feed very heavily this year to beef it up a bit.

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This side presents the best width of trunk and nebari

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I could reduce it down even further to the first vertical branch on the main trunk. Any opinions?