Field Grown Japanese Beech Makeover

grouper52

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I got this two seasons ago from Jason at Oregon Bonsai. Their acres of field grown trees were unfortunately pruned years ago before Randy got the place by some cheap labor that had no understanding. A look at he first photo shows the almost hopeless condition they left this thing in.

Almost hopeless. But I like a challenge, and I liked the trunk on this guy. I thought I could do something with it, but Jason just wondered why I bought it. :D

Second photo shows my decision after some study of the tree: I kept the smaller of the T branches, and tilted the tree a slight bit. I also used a die grinder to carve out the old shoulder of the larger T branch into a uro. Starting to show promise! :)

The third photo was then taken last winter when I went gung-ho overboard "baby-bending the whips and branchlets much farther out than they would ever need to be once trimmed back. :eek: :D

I then let it grow all this season, and just a few days ago trimmed it back to a first approximation of its future self. The remaining movement from the baby bending will endure to give the branching more interest forever, and all small, new whips each year may be subjected to this in the future if I don't just ramify and clip-and-grow this thing.

The carving will be further refined this winter, with many of the larger scars being hollowed out deep enough to connect with the large uro. The nebari will also be refined and shortened (Scarring the large roots at the soil line when I first potted it up has resulted in many small roots coming off close now.)

The trunk is 4" diameter. Enjoy.
 

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Ang3lfir3

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This is another example of how your interest in shal we say "interesting" trees leads to the creation of exciting thought provoking designs. I remember talking with you about this tree and what your plans were for it. I was so excited to see the changes you had made to it. It was hard to imagine what it could become from where it started. Of course we know that has happened and is continuing you happen. It is really an inspirational tree to see that even those that are "Almost hopeless" can become something interesting in the hands of someone with a passion for them and a vision.

Its not a typical image.. or one of "a tree i have seen before" ... which of course is why its so exciting... I hope others can learn to appreciate how and where this comes from. I look forward to watching this tree progress over the years into the image of a truly ancient survivor with an amazing story full of adventure, excitement, tragedy, struggle and overcoming disastrous missfortune. A far more interesting story to tell then the image of that perfect "field tree" , I think we can all agree on that.
 

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I like what you've done here, and it encouraged me to use my new dremel to hollow out a hornbeam. Any tips on how to treat the wood?

-Dave
 

grouper52

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I like what you've done here, and it encouraged me to use my new dremel to hollow out a hornbeam. Any tips on how to treat the wood?

-Dave
I've traditionally let it dry a bit, or perhaps sometimes even rot a little bit for effect and then clean it up to hard, solid wood again and then dry it out. Packing a wound with moss to keep it moist will facilitate the rotting. Then I use lime sulfur a few times for a season to bleach and dry it out a bit, letting the wood desiccate a bit. Then I treat it with a penetrating wood hardener - Miniwax makes such an epoxy hardener that I use currently, but other folks use other ones that work just as well. Several applications over time seem to work well. If there is any surface residue from the lime sulfur remaining I use a brass brush to get it off - then when the wood hardener is applied the color of the deadwood is very rich and realistic for a deciduous tree, as opposed to the bleached white look one would find on desert conifers.

I haven't done any treatment on the wood on this tree yet: the wood is very hard and so far shows no signs of rot, and I plan to do more carving this winter anyway.

Hope that helps.

Will
 

mcpesq817

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Nice tree! Gives me inspiration for chopping a european beech I own which has a long telephone pole of a trunk.

Thanks for sharing.
 

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Thanks, for the info. Well put. Wouldn't have thought to pack it with moss, but it makes sense to help rot off the soft wood.

-Dave
 

grouper52

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Here's an update on this guy. Spent a few hours carving. The uro is a bit improved, and holes deepen all the way through to connect two of the old branch scars with the large uro. You can't see it, though, because the weather was just too nasty and the lighting too poor anywhere except out in the nasty weather. Maybe another day a macro photo will be taken.

Did a bit more trimming and wiring as the buds start to swell early this year, and a tiny bit of refinement on the nebari. A cold but satisfying early afternoon here in the NorthWet. :)
 

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plant_dr

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How is that tree looking now?
 

grouper52

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How is that tree looking now?
Thanks for asking. It's been a really strange year around here, weather-wise, but this guy has sailed through it all. I just kind of let it grow this season to get some vigor back, but probably didn't need to - it's got VERY vigorous, dense and large-leafed foliage this year. I'll begin more traditional beech pruning starting next season, hopefully get the leaves to reduce a bit.

Not all my efforts to get nebari in closer to the trunk have been as successful as I would have liked, so efforts in that direction will begin again in earnest next season - I might, perhaps, even start some cuttings for use in grafting roots in close.
 

Walter Pall

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grouper52,

nice development. Way to go with lousy material.
As I look at the tree I would bet the farm that it is a European hornbeam, Carpinus betulus. I happen to have dozens of those and have seen millions. Does not matter much, only for the record.
We found that all beeches, namely from the Fagus family and all hornbeams from the Carpinus family dry out easliy in summer, don't like very hot days, don't like salt build up in soil and need winter protection on their roots.
Otherwise they are very forgiving, being excellent bonsai material.
 
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cquinn

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It is developed nicely. Good job on that one mate!
 

grouper52

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Thanks, Walter and cquinn.

I have a Korean hornbeam, but no European ones, and have never worked with a beech of any variety before (though I've got two in the ground), so the info is much appreciated, Walter.
 
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ericN

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I really like this tree. Nice job Will!

eric
 

mcpesq817

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Nice progress. I prefer fuller canopies on deciduous trees, but I think you can go either way.
 

Dwight

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I like the fuller canopy as well. It still reminds me of something Harry Potter would hide behind which I think , is a good thing
 

grouper52

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Here's an update mid-winter, on what I am now convinced is a European Hornbeam. :)

Frozen hands result in crude wiring - a smarter person would have worked on it indoors. Forgive me. It'll come off in the spring anyway. :)

A few more years and it will be close to what I had hoped for.

Enjoy.
 

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Ang3lfir3

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I remember when you first began working on it ... I remember sitting in your living room chatting about it and turning and looking it over ... I couldn't see in it exactly what you saw but I knew if you have a vision it was gunna be a great one ...

and my hunch was right ... looking really great... that base is so strong and the crown feels so aged and gnarled...
 

grouper52

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Do we have a blushing emoticon here? Thanks for your kind words.

At first my vision was just, "I just can't let this trunk and base go to waste - I have to find a way!" And once I saw the way forward, I had no idea if it would turn out convincingly. I'm just really pleased I could pull it off. :) Thanks again.
 

JudyB

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The bold moves you make are indeed inspiring. And fruitful. To see that vision and pull it off from that first image is pretty astonishing in the short time you've been working on this.
Did you have to defoliate this, or did it drop it's leaves by itself?
 
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