American Hornbeam help

Scrogdor

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Picked this up for cheap at a nursery I was passing by over the summer. It had some bad lead scorch but I was in a hurry so I just grabbed it.

Now that all the leaves have fallen off this. It’s way crazier than I thought and I’m not sure where to begin. Wire on there is just from practicing since these branches are super bendy.

particularly confused on what to do with that first branch area. I did use a knob cutter to remove a dead knob on there.

I realize this is probably some bad material, but it is what it is. hopefully I can get some practice out of it.
 

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Forsoothe!

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I think it's too early to make judgements one way or the other. Don't treat it as dead, treat it like it's autumn and this is going to sleep until March. You'll see buds where it's alive, but don't get carried away chopping off slower parts. Wait until it's all leafed out and then do your thing.
 

Scrogdor

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I think it's too early to make judgements one way or the other. Don't treat it as dead, treat it like it's autumn and this is going to sleep until March. You'll see buds where it's alive, but don't get carried away chopping off slower parts. Wait until it's all leafed out and then do your thing.
I really liked the tree when I first saw it, I just know by bonsai standards it’s a mess lol.
 

Forsoothe!

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Put it out a window you can gaze out of with a hot cup o' rum and ponder your design. By the end of winter It'll be your favorite tree! ;)
 

Shibui

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Reduce stumps with branch cutter or knob cutter. The stump is not attractive so get rid of it.
That fork already has 2 branches growing from the same place. You need to reduce so there is only 1 branch at any junction. Decide whether you like the horizontal branch look or the ascending branch then chop the other.
I would be considering reducing the main trunk by cutting back to one of the branches. That gets you both taper and a change of direction.
Developing most deciduous bonsai usually involves a series of grow and chop sequences. I think the previous chop was too high. Probably a commercial decision as buyers won't pay good money for short trees but that's actually where the real bonsai is.
 

JudyB

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I think it’s decent material if you work with the frame the tree has, it has a couple nice low branches, and up to a certain point, has taper. You should plan a chop above the second set of branches at the proper time and use one of those as your new trunk line, or apex if the tree at that point is tall enough for your plans. Hopefully you will see some bud formations on the trunk between the low set of branches and the upper ones. I think the bark is nice and scar free, and the tree has a certain elegance to it. I would make a sketch of direction for this so you can visualize what potential paths are.
 

BrianBay9

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I think it’s decent material if you work with the frame the tree has, it has a couple nice low branches, and up to a certain point, has taper. You should plan a chop above the second set of branches at the proper time and use one of those as your new trunk line, or apex if the tree at that point is tall enough for your plans. Hopefully you will see some bud formations on the trunk between the low set of branches and the upper ones. I think the bark is nice and scar free, and the tree has a certain elegance to it. I would make a sketch of direction for this so you can visualize what potential paths are.
I agree. The lower trunk has nice movement and pretty good taper above that. I'd also chop where JudyB recommends.
 

Scrogdor

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I think it’s decent material if you work with the frame the tree has, it has a couple nice low branches, and up to a certain point, has taper. You should plan a chop above the second set of branches at the proper time and use one of those as your new trunk line, or apex if the tree at that point is tall enough for your plans. Hopefully you will see some bud formations on the trunk between the low set of branches and the upper ones. I think the bark is nice and scar free, and the tree has a certain elegance to it. I would make a sketch of direction for this so you can visualize what potential paths are.
Do you mean the Red cut line or the blue one? Also considering applying a tourniquet at the light blue line above the roots, or ground layering if that works better to start a new nebari. It doesn't seem like there is much potential here and beneath the surface roots is a good deal of inverse taper so I can't just cut them away.
 

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JudyB

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Below the red line for me. Too taperless above that line and I'd always see that lack of taper whenever I looked at it.
 

Scrogdor

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Took some up close pictures of the nebari situation. Blue line outlines the trunk/roots. Red line is where I’m thinking of applying a tourniquet, yellow line is maybe another option. I’m not sure if I can include the top of roots in the tourniquet method though.

I chose tourniquet over ground layer because I like the idea of the extra swelling above the wire that tourniquets provide.

curious on how others would handle this, or if this nebari is salvageable.
 

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JesusFreak

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I haven’t had very good success with tourniquets. The tree just grows over the wire for me. But I also wasn’t dealing with this species. Interested to hear others take
 

Scrogdor

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Updates on this one. Hoping for some back budding after the chop off the top to give me some more options lower down. Left some branches to work with depending if I do get some back budding.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with the large lower branch. Unwired it naturally came up and droops down. I recently wired it to it more horizontal. Also wondering if I could wire it up and turn it into a second trunk. The branches are pretty bendable

Cut off a couple side roots, shouldn’t be an issue as they weren’t attached to many feeders despite their large size. Did a pretty significant root prune as well using a saw to cut off the tangled hard roots at the bottom and then used clippers to clean up the ends. Will reduce further next spring and slowly work the feeders back towards the trunk.
 

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Shogun610

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Cut back and ground layer in spring. Put into bigger container for growth. Work on wiring. Using a guy wire to bend that lower branch down would work… would be a good tree to also test thread grafting to get lower low branch eventually if no buds pop
 

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Scrogdor

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Cut back and ground layer in spring. Put into bigger container for growth. Work on wiring. Using a guy wire to bend that lower branch down would work… would be a good tree to also test thread grafting to get lower low branch eventually if no buds pop
Thread grafting would require a long skinny branch correct that can bend through the tree?

My preferred option if I can get a branch on that bare side would be to make this branch the new leader. Without a branch there though it would be entirely bare up to the apex if I made that chop.
 

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