Beech (Sylvatica) Hunt Advice

Aiki_Joker

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This was a 20ft pole but can't pass up the nebari!

20180128_155317.jpg
20180128_155652.jpg
Rode about a mile into an estate forest and loaded this on the quad bike to collect it! ?Soil and root mass must have been 40Kg when loaded and 20kg when unloaded! Manged to convince my parents to let me put it in the wild section of their garden as I'm between houses right now! Couldn't pass up a year's growing time on this. It's going to take decades to develop if it survives!
20180215_103853.jpg
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Sealed all cuts with Bayer Heal and Seal tree sealer. Good results with this previously, I'm sure its formulated with some hormones or something secret! Sealed cambium and heart wood, not taking any chances on this drying out or getting borers. Large ~3×5cm root cut was as brave as I could go right now and sealed all cuts on roots over 1cm. Heavy clay soil was washed out. A small number of feeder roots remain. Conservative chop and didn't touch the nebari width. Hoping there are enough roots and sugars to pop some buds. No external buds on this at all. Evidence of epicormic buds and previous branches only.
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That's >100L of 1:1:1 cat litter/perlite/compost in there. Hoping it will hold water in the summer as I will be away :0/ Too shallow is not an option, can't rely too much on the old folks to get down here and check every day.

Will be planted in open ground in 6 months or so once I get back to UK and get accommdation sorted. Hoping to close on a very small farm here soon!

Back filled and levelled over slow release fertiliser to finish.20180215_110719.jpg

Any frost protection recommended? It is not likely to go below -5oC (23F) for more than a few days here from now until April time. Normal temps are running 3 (37F) to 10oC (50F) right now. Hoping frosts are over but there is still a risk. Feeder roots are approximately 15cm below the surface.

This is a SE aspect but somewhat shaded one side by a hornbeam hedge and the other by 2 x ~6m trees (birch and alder). Still gets full sun 5 hrs per day in the morning.

What does everyone think on all of the above. I should have prepped it in the ground and waited patiently for a year shouldn't I? Ha ha ha ha ???

Any ideas on how long before I will know? Never chopped a guy this hard before! It's a shame I didn't get pictures of the root prune for this thread. My apologies.
 

leatherback

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Would love to see how the nebari looks besides the 3 massive roots. Does the rest have good ramification?

Not sure why you put it in a box, to be honest. In your situation, I would probably have put it in the soil.
Or even better.. Left it where it was, just trim it down to a stump.

Does F sylvatica throw buds easily? You may have to cut it down further?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Beautiful nebari. Nice find. Morning sun good. I think you can leave it exposed, -5 C is not very extreme.

Quick, before this stump starts to grow, please cut that trunk shorter. If you want a finished tree at about 1.5 meters tall, you need to cut the stump at no taller than 0.5 meters. In general the largest diameter segment of trunk should be no more than 1/3 the total height of the tree. Unless you have a specific plan to use more height, I would go much lower. I have collected a fair number of trees, and the biggest, most frequent thing I find myself saying the 2nd or 3rd year after collecting is ''I wish I had cut it lower''.

Beech will do the majority of back budding near the cut wound, and not much lower. So you need to lower that chop if you want a lot of lower branches to work with. (my experience is with American beech, not EU beech. If you don't chop lower, in a couple years when you realize you should have chopped lower, the second chop will never back bud as vigorously as the very first chop did. Right now the tree has the stored energy of a 20 foot tall beech, it will never have that in the future. Chop lower and you will be happy you did later.

Of course, there are options where you can represent a tall tree that had storm damage, etc. Lots of carving etc. But if this tree were mine, I would cut it back to less than 0.5 meter, probably I would go to 0.25 meters. Personally, I am old enough that I don't want to have to wrestle around trees that weigh over 10 kg. Actually less than 2 kg is my preference, shohin trees are better for old guys like me. You're going to have this tree for decades, think about your poor future back.
 

Aiki_Joker

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Would love to see how the nebari looks besides the 3 massive roots. Does the rest have good ramification?

Not sure why you put it in a box, to be honest. In your situation, I would probably have put it in the soil.
Or even better.. Left it where it was, just trim it down to a stump.

Does F sylvatica throw buds easily? You may have to cut it down further?

Not sure on the buds, it does back bud though. The nebari ramifies but very wide and a few roots maybe only split twice each and not close enough. Not brave enough to reduce it with the lack of feeders. Ye, the tree is about 25 inches now and to develop the taper with 1:6 in mind it will need to be cut back for sure.

The box is so I can move it from here to mine easily, soil here is clay and don't want to take space in my parents garden. This area grows grass 3ft in the summer would impede it. Don't want them having to strim around it either.

Here is the best pic I got with a Garmin Montana for size, this is about as big as a large sized smart phone (like a Galaxy Note 8).
20180128_155814.jpg
What do you think on layering? Might look a bit weird with a smooth trunk?
 

Aiki_Joker

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Not sure on the buds, it does back bud though. The nebari ramifies but very wide and a few roots maybe only split twice each and not close enough. Not brave enough to reduce it with the lack of feeders. Ye, the tree is about 25 inches now and to develop the taper with 1:6 in mind it will need to be cut back for sure.

The box is so I can move it from here to mine easily, soil here is clay and don't want to take space in my parents garden. This area grows grass 3ft in the summer would impede it. Don't want them having to strim around it either.

Here is the best pic I got with a Garmin Montana for size, this is about as big as a large sized smart phone (like a Galaxy Note 8).
View attachment 178223
What do you think on layering? Might look a bit weird with a smooth trunk?
4 massive roots ?
 

Aiki_Joker

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Beautiful nebari. Nice find. Morning sun good. I think you can leave it exposed, -5 C is not very extreme.

Quick, before this stump starts to grow, please cut that trunk shorter. If you want a finished tree at about 1.5 meters tall, you need to cut the stump at no taller than 0.5 meters. In general the largest diameter segment of trunk should be no more than 1/3 the total height of the tree. Unless you have a specific plan to use more height, I would go much lower. I have collected a fair number of trees, and the biggest, most frequent thing I find myself saying the 2nd or 3rd year after collecting is ''I wish I had cut it lower''.

Beech will do the majority of back budding near the cut wound, and not much lower. So you need to lower that chop if you want a lot of lower branches to work with. (my experience is with American beech, not EU beech. If you don't chop lower, in a couple years when you realize you should have chopped lower, the second chop will never back bud as vigorously as the very first chop did. Right now the tree has the stored energy of a 20 foot tall beech, it will never have that in the future. Chop lower and you will be happy you did later.

Of course, there are options where you can represent a tall tree that had storm damage, etc. Lots of carving etc. But if this tree were mine, I would cut it back to less than 0.5 meter, probably I would go to 0.25 meters. Personally, I am old enough that I don't want to have to wrestle around trees that weigh over 10 kg. Actually less than 2 kg is my preference, shohin trees are better for old guys like me. You're going to have this tree for decades, think about your poor future back.

Thanks Leo! It should definitely be shorter. Does this not weaken it though? The more trunk it has the more sugar stores? Will it have enough to get going now if I cut it back to .25m? Good point on the energy stores and budding. What is the shortest you have gone with no buds and a small mass of feeders with this trunk size and how old do you think this tree is already?

Many thanks
 

Aiki_Joker

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Beautiful nebari. Nice find. Morning sun good. I think you can leave it exposed, -5 C is not very extreme.

Quick, before this stump starts to grow, please cut that trunk shorter. If you want a finished tree at about 1.5 meters tall, you need to cut the stump at no taller than 0.5 meters. In general the largest diameter segment of trunk should be no more than 1/3 the total height of the tree. Unless you have a specific plan to use more height, I would go much lower. I have collected a fair number of trees, and the biggest, most frequent thing I find myself saying the 2nd or 3rd year after collecting is ''I wish I had cut it lower''.

Beech will do the majority of back budding near the cut wound, and not much lower. So you need to lower that chop if you want a lot of lower branches to work with. (my experience is with American beech, not EU beech. If you don't chop lower, in a couple years when you realize you should have chopped lower, the second chop will never back bud as vigorously as the very first chop did. Right now the tree has the stored energy of a 20 foot tall beech, it will never have that in the future. Chop lower and you will be happy you did later.

Of course, there are options where you can represent a tall tree that had storm damage, etc. Lots of carving etc. But if this tree were mine, I would cut it back to less than 0.5 meter, probably I would go to 0.25 meters. Personally, I am old enough that I don't want to have to wrestle around trees that weigh over 10 kg. Actually less than 2 kg is my preference, shohin trees are better for old guys like me. You're going to have this tree for decades, think about your poor future back.

Thanks for the advice above. It got me thinking. I have chopped this back by half. You guys are right. Even though it may not have enough stored sugars to bud out and survive, I don't want to be spending a few years growing it out only to weaken it again by chopping it back hard. Pics tomorrow. Hoping it is not too short :0/ Better to lose this after spending this short time on it than a few years down the line I figure.
Most appreciated
 

BobbyLane

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I dont mean to disappoint, but i think this one is more like hedging stock, its very, very straight and doesnt carry much inherent interest. the nebari looks a little one sided too which isnt really what you want. especially if taking the time and effort to dig from the wild. if youre going to stick with it, i would just chop it down to a stump and re grow from there, but i would search for something better. you say there is a hornbeam hedge there, well hornbeam naturally produce very good nebari and muscular trunks/bases. i love beech myself and i would be looking for something better if you have the access.

here's a hornbeam i picked up from a hedging nursery, probably has more interest up top than the beech, but far too straight, just to give you an idea
20170323_162454 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr

reduced to a stump
2017-03-27_12-05-50 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr

and reduced again and has a better future now and the nebari is even better from other sides
IMG_5653 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr

this hornbeam is also from hedging stock, you can see how straight it is, just like your beech, its only suitable for a short broom, but the nebari must be good, you want a radial root spread for this type of material or it just wont carry enough interest to be worthwhile,
2018-02-15_08-22-53 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr


youre not just looking for nebari, but also flare at the base in re to hedging stock anyway
this beech from hedging material has good roots as well as some flare
IMG_4196 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr

2017-04-12_09-53-31 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr

things to look out for

hope that helps
 
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Aiki_Joker

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That's great advice Bobby. Nice hollowing and deadwood. I was thinking of shortening the nebari and ramifying it over 20 odd years it may be good. Will take a long time. So long will probably change along the way if it survives. Will keep this thread updated. Appreciated :)
 

Aiki_Joker

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Hornbeam hedge is off limits right now. Owned by my parents :0 (
 

Tieball

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I totally agree with the cut it donw further...to a much shorter stump. You’re generally starting over anyway. I think a shorter stump start will be more rewarding. However....I have chopped tall also....thinking I get more budding down all over the trunk for lots of choices to cut back to...but found I only received buds near the very top only. Regretting at that point that I didn’t chop back much lower.

The tree has the Nabari roots looking like a very tall tree....coarse and wild.
 

Aiki_Joker

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Thanks for sharing tieball. Yes, these roots reminded me of rain forest trees. Was your experience on apical buds with beech? And if so, US or UK beech? Many thanks! :)
 

AndyJ

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Hi Aiki - good thread and I like you stump - hope it survives for you.

I've got a European Beech in the ground and shortened from 20ft to about three - a friend did this for me last autumn. Mine is pretty much like yours in terms of its straightness but I'm ok with this because I would like to try and grow it out as a late broom. However, after reading this, and learning that Beech will only bud out at the top by the cut site, I'm thinking I need to get it cut shorter.
 

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Don't mean to be a drag but you made three mistakes here.

First the tree has a decent nebari but that's about it. There is literally no taper to the trunk so that should be an indicator that this tree should be left where it was and moved onto the next. Granted this is a minor issue as it can be hollowed and taper added this way but that's going to take a long time before you can do this. Beech grow super slow and as bonsai even slower! So taper and thickness take a crazy amount of time compared to an elm or maple.

Second issue is you should have waited to collect the tree. Beech are usually the last to leaf out so there is more time allowed to collect these. If you still have frost in your area, then this tree should not be allowed to get below 40F degree's let alone 23F. Your just just exposing your tree to damage for frost damage and trunk dieback/ or death. There bark is very think and can damage ez'ly so this should be protected.

Third and most likely that biggest issue I see is two fold. When collecting beech you really need to be aware of the species and how difficult this species can be or ez if you know what to look for. When collecting beech you really need to have branches with buds on the tree/ or branches low already on the tree. New spring buds are formed the previous fall and are set ready to unfurl that coming spring. There are dormant buds BUT beech are not like other deciduous trees, they are the white pine of Deciduous tree's. The tree is going to have to really did into it's reserves to form new buds and open them up. It can be done the way you did this, but the rate of success with branches/buds on the tree and no branches/buds at all, are night and day. The second part of this is you just dramatically reduced your chances of success but chopping the tree again. They get there strength from there vascular system and you just reduced it by a lot and messed with the roots but cutting it again. It would have better to keep it tall and let the tree recover for 2 years then cut it down to height to a lower branches. That is just the nature of the beast that is beech.

I only mean to educate and apologies if this comes across as harsh. I have 7 beech and two of them are bigger then this tree, plus beech are one of my favorite species. Also if the tree does survive it will need to be protected from sunburn. They are under-story trees and can take full sun but ONLY after they are established and have a good root and canopy system.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Thanks Leo! It should definitely be shorter. Does this not weaken it though? The more trunk it has the more sugar stores? Will it have enough to get going now if I cut it back to .25m? Good point on the energy stores and budding. What is the shortest you have gone with no buds and a small mass of feeders with this trunk size and how old do you think this tree is already?

Many thanks

@Giga - I have no disagreement with any of the content of your post. You did outline the mistakes. But I am going to share my thoughts as to what to do with the tree he already has sitting in front of him. Yes, I myself you not have collected this one. I would have collected a tree with low branches, and did the chop above the lowest branch or two. Actually, I'd shoot for at least 3 low branches, if they were all on different sides of the trunk, then chop just above those. But that ship has sailed. Deed is done.

@Aiki_Joker - Giga was telling the truth, this was a poor choice for a tree. Without any low buds, low branches, and with the fact that weather could drop below freezing, the chances of survival are already down to significantly less than 50:50. But there still is the odd chance it will survive. It will require several years to recover. Do move the tree to a location where it is shaded for the majority of the day, that will help.

If you collected this only a few days ago, cutting again, lower would not really be a separate trauma. Do seal the cut, it can be months before the tree actually produces a bud, an unsealed cut will allow too much moisture to escape. If more than a week has passed, do the second cut in 2 to 5 years. If done several years from now, never cut lower than a branch with buds. You may have to sequentially cut to a low branch, wait for buds to sprout lower & develop into branches that can support the roots, then chop again to the new lower branches. This could be a decade long process. My thought on recutting now is that the second lower chop would eliminate the decade of trying to fix having chopped too high. If the tree dies because the trauma of the second cut, or insufficient stored resources, the death of the tree will have saved you from a decade long exercise in frustration getting branches low enough on the tree to do anything with. If you cut lower now, and it lives, you are ''ahead'' by a 5 years to a decade of where you would be if you did not do a second chop. In the future, remember for beech, be sure to keep a low branch and second, the lower you are able to chop, the more time you will save yourself down the road. Keep the guideline that you want to chop lower than one third of the final height of the desired future tree.

It is far better to walk past a beech with no low branching. Where for most other species the lack of low branching is not as big an issue.

If it has been more than a week since collecting the tree, do not do the second chop. It would take chances of survival from poor to near zero.

I did have a chopped beech sit until middle of July without a single bud sprouting - actually I had several, 2 out of 3 just died even though I waited over a year for them. But one beech did sprout a couple weak buds, that developed into a weak branch, but it did live. So I would not put it on the ''burn pile'' until about 16 months months after you collected it. If it hasn't sprouted by August, it is very unlikely to ever sprout, but there are unverified rumors of trees of different species sprouting more than a year after collecting. Besides, if you wait 16 months before burning the stump, it will burn better.

If it does sprout, it will be weak. do not do any pruning or other bonsai technique for at least 2 years. Wait until you have good, healthy growth.

Hornbeam (carpinus) have a better chance of surviving this type of treatment, I have chopped Carpinus to just a short trunk and a nebari, and had reasonably good back budding. When I initially replied I had Carpinus in mind, as I had collected these more recently than my beech. Beech is definitely an exception to the ''normal'' behavior for the more common deciduous trees like elm, maple, hornbeam & hawthorn. In North America, it is fairly common, that if a forest has beech, scouting the lower depressions, more moist areas, of the same forest you are very likely to find hornbeam. Sometimes they are found together. Hornbeam is an easier tree to work with than beech, yet has similar bark and can be trained to similar styles. Keep your eye out.
 

M. Frary

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I would pass on collecting a beech when first starting out.
Like others have mentioned they're tempermental,slow growers.
I would suggest looking for elms to start your collecting efforts on.
You can build a decent tree from a stump like yours in 5 years,give or take.
They're much more rewarding right out of the shoot and will help you build confidence in what your trying to do.
 

rockm

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FWIW, as Bobby L. pointed out, the nebari on this is not exactly great. It is impressive, but only on the original tree. Chop the trunk to bonsai size and the nebari becomes extremely coarse looking.

I wouldn't be that worried about it pushing new buds. It probably will, BUT, that's not really what you're after. Buds will pop on newly collected trees from sheer inertia--that's the first flush of growth on a lot of newly collected trees--It is the SECOND push of growth that will indicate the tree is going to make it. That second push can come from anywhere a week to two months out or even longer, as the tree tries to regrow functional roots.

This second flush is critical. If a tree fails to push it, it will probably not make it.

I learned that from Zach Smith--who advises "bagging" slower responding newly collected trees with translucent plastic bags (like shopping bags) when a tree shows signs of not recovering well. That bag slows transpiration and can give the chopped roots some slack in supporting the new leaves, as the roots begin growing.
 

BrianBay9

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One other point about collected beech. They have fooled me in the past with back budding and pretty strong growth the first year after collecting. Then I started some work on them, and they declined quickly in year two. If you get this one to survive, I would advise waiting and extra year or two before you start work on it.
 

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