Hack's "This is not a contest" tree

Hack Yeah!

Chumono
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Hello all, I've collected a trio of American hornbeam this winter and really hope to develop my skills on indigenous decidous, say that 3 times fast! I used @Zach Smith advice from his bonsai South website for collecting. I'll sort out one primarily for the contest provided they all survive. I've got 2 in a traditional soil mix clay/pumice/lava/bark one of which is screwed to a board. The other is in straight DE. I'll be keeping them in these 15" x 5"deep flats for two growing seasons at minimum. I'm thinking I would like to apply lime sulfer to at least one of them next winter. I've got ideas of styles but will wait to see what they want to do before devoting much time to that side. They've all got buds popping!three-amigos-1323716077.jpgIMG_20180331_142653.jpg
 

JosephCooper

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I love that middle one, hopefully you can get some roots on the back.
 

Hack Yeah!

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Update, all trees doing well. Beginner issue, I'm having trouble deciding which tree has the best potential. I made the mistake of not marking the best front for the trees before potting. I'll post them in the order I think have the best potential. Any opinions would be appreciated20180929_141529.jpg20180929_114437.jpg20180929_141336.jpg
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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To my eye tree #3 has best potential, tree #1 the second best and #2 the least. But that is based on your photography, not real life.

At this stage it is far too early to seriously pick a front. Yes, its okay to eyeball a front but realize that it will be years before these go into a bonsai pot and ''front'' is a fluid concept, it will change many times. I like that you are using Anderson flats. This says you understand much of what it takes to build a broadleaf tree bonsai.

What is the ''front'', it is the angle from which the tree looks most naturally tree like. Ideally a tree will have 360 degrees of ''front'' in that it will look like a natural tree from all directions. But this is way to early in the process to worry about front. At most only a one or a few of the branches present now will be there in 5 years, and only segments of the branches will be retained as sub-trunks rather than as branches. All the branches of the finished tree will be started from buds some years ahead into the future.

You have a nice start, depending on the tree's level of cooperation and your skill, all three could become decent bonsai in about 10 years., they might be ''show-able'' in a local show as soon as 5 years. Nice works in progress.
 

Hack Yeah!

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To my eye tree #3 has best potential, tree #1 the second best and #2 the least. But that is based on your photography, not real life.

At this stage it is far too early to seriously pick a front. Yes, its okay to eyeball a front but realize that it will be years before these go into a bonsai pot and ''front'' is a fluid concept, it will change many times. I like that you are using Anderson flats. This says you understand much of what it takes to build a broadleaf tree bonsai.

What is the ''front'', it is the angle from which the tree looks most naturally tree like. Ideally a tree will have 360 degrees of ''front'' in that it will look like a natural tree from all directions. But this is way to early in the process to worry about front. At most only a one or a few of the branches present now will be there in 5 years, and only segments of the branches will be retained as sub-trunks rather than as branches. All the branches of the finished tree will be started from buds some years ahead into the future.

You have a nice start, depending on the tree's level of cooperation and your skill, all three could become decent bonsai in about 10 years., they might be ''show-able'' in a local show as soon as 5 years. Nice works in progress.
Thank you Leo for looking through and providing some feedback. I guess what I meant by marking the fronts was what would be the best based on the naturally collected nebari.

I did think I would need to try and choose branches from the first year's growth, so you saying I shouldn't worry about the first year possibilities is very encouraging. Especially since I think I should've set their growing angles earlier/ better than I did.

What is your opinion on working the roots next winter/ spring, one year after collecting? I would probably only try this with one of the three. I actually have several seedlings I could practice grafting, which I'm anxious to try.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Thank you Leo for looking through and providing some feedback. I guess what I meant by marking the fronts was what would be the best based on the naturally collected nebari.

I did think I would need to try and choose branches from the first year's growth, so you saying I shouldn't worry about the first year possibilities is very encouraging. Especially since I think I should've set their growing angles earlier/ better than I did.

What is your opinion on working the roots next winter/ spring, one year after collecting? I would probably only try this with one of the three. I actually have several seedlings I could practice grafting, which I'm anxious to try.

In general, I try not to disturb the roots of any tree in my collection more than once every 2 or more years. I would leave them alone to re-establish a second year. I collected a hornbeam and it was not ready for anything until the second year. It is important that anytime you do repot a tree you take advantage of the only once every other year opportunity and do the work to improve the root system and the nebari. In general, the front will often end up being the side of the tree that the nebari looks best. In the future when you pot up collected trees, always try to have the best side of the nebari facing the ''front'' of the pot because it will be two or three years before you get a chance again to rotate the tree in the pot.

Deciduous trees might tolerate yearly repotting, but it is not recommended except for specific situations. For example there are some who will repot an exhibit ready maple just to slow the growth down the year it will be exhibited. Obviously you do repot if there is a health related issue that requires being repotted. Generally every other year is ''normal'' and I often will let trees go longer if I can get away with it. My collected hornbeam has not been repotted yet, and 2019 will be its third growing season. Probably 2020 will be its first repot.

Second. the repotting decision, can be planned, but on the day you plan to do it, evaluate the health of the tree, and review the decision before you start based on the health of the tree in front of you. If growth was weak, and the potting media and such in the pot are good enough for another year, don't repot. Repotting will further weaken weak trees, and slow down strong trees. Repotting is the second most traumatic thing you can do to a tree other than collecting a tree from the wild. AND there is no such thing as a gentle ''slip potting''. What people call ''slip potting'' is just as traumatic as a full blown regular repotting, but without the benefit of actually improving the roots or nebari. So I would put off repotting as long as you can after initial collecting, at least two years.

This second growing season is an ideal time to start working your trees. Start thinking about what style or forms you want them to take. Key will be thinking about what angle you want branches to be to the trunk. Over the winter, or sometime after the summer solstice you can start wiring the branches mainly to set the angle the branches leave the trunk. The branches will be shortened later, so you really only have to wire the first couple inches.

If you are not sure what to do with the trees, as a "paint by numbers" plan, figure the collected trunk will be the first one third the total height of the "finished" tree. If you want trees under a certain height, say 12 inches, the trunks might need to be re-chopped to 4 inches or so. It is a "guideline" not a rule. If some other plan or proportions look good, go with it.

So first third of the trunk should be the main trunk. Second third is the region with all the major branches coming off the trunk. Third region is all secondary branching. For deciduous trees, we play build a tree, building each segment and each region. Ideally the trunk tapers, becoming more narrow as you go up.
 

KiwiPlantGuy

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In general, I try not to disturb the roots of any tree in my collection more than once every 2 or more years. I would leave them alone to re-establish a second year. I collected a hornbeam and it was not ready for anything until the second year. It is important that anytime you do repot a tree you take advantage of the only once every other year opportunity and do the work to improve the root system and the nebari. In general, the front will often end up being the side of the tree that the nebari looks best. In the future when you pot up collected trees, always try to have the best side of the nebari facing the ''front'' of the pot because it will be two or three years before you get a chance again to rotate the tree in the pot.

Deciduous trees might tolerate yearly repotting, but it is not recommended except for specific situations. For example there are some who will repot an exhibit ready maple just to slow the growth down the year it will be exhibited. Obviously you do repot if there is a health related issue that requires being repotted. Generally every other year is ''normal'' and I often will let trees go longer if I can get away with it. My collected hornbeam has not been repotted yet, and 2019 will be its third growing season. Probably 2020 will be its first repot.

Second. the repotting decision, can be planned, but on the day you plan to do it, evaluate the health of the tree, and review the decision before you start based on the health of the tree in front of you. If growth was weak, and the potting media and such in the pot are good enough for another year, don't repot. Repotting will further weaken weak trees, and slow down strong trees. Repotting is the second most traumatic thing you can do to a tree other than collecting a tree from the wild. AND there is no such thing as a gentle ''slip potting''. What people call ''slip potting'' is just as traumatic as a full blown regular repotting, but without the benefit of actually improving the roots or nebari. So I would put off repotting as long as you can after initial collecting, at least two years.

This second growing season is an ideal time to start working your trees. Start thinking about what style or forms you want them to take. Key will be thinking about what angle you want branches to be to the trunk. Over the winter, or sometime after the summer solstice you can start wiring the branches mainly to set the angle the branches leave the trunk. The branches will be shortened later, so you really only have to wire the first couple inches.

If you are not sure what to do with the trees, as a "paint by numbers" plan, figure the collected trunk will be the first one third the total height of the "finished" tree. If you want trees under a certain height, say 12 inches, the trunks might need to be re-chopped to 4 inches or so. It is a "guideline" not a rule. If some other plan or proportions look good, go with it.

So first third of the trunk should be the main trunk. Second third is the region with all the major branches coming off the trunk. Third region is all secondary branching. For deciduous trees, we play build a tree, building each segment and each region. Ideally the trunk tapers, becoming more narrow as you go up.

Hi Leo,
Thank you for a marvellous write up of the first years development. This certainly has helped me understand the how’s and why’s of development stages. ?
Charles
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Thanks
By the way, I like informal broom styles for hornbeam. I like it when the trunk divides to two sub-trunks, they run a bit, then they divide to four, the 4 run a bit, then these four divide to 8, then you are into the serious branching. A hornbeam with only a single leader is done too often. You only see single leader hornbeam occasionally in the wild, more often they have more of an informal broom style to them.

The ''formal'' broom, with all the branches coming off the trunk at the same point is not the style I'm thinking of. I save the ''formal broom'' for elms.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Not trying to hijack your thread, just offering this as help for you to visualize. Here is a progression on mine. It was collected in early March, several weeks before leafing out. It initially had many new shoots from the surface of roots and low on the trunk. There were only a couple shoots on the trunk, and they were weak by comparison, so I removed any shoots coming too low. By May this is how it looked. If others want to suggest styling techniques, save them for when I put up a thread on this tree, lets keep this Hack Yeah's thread.

May 2017
IMG_20170526_104138675.jpg

June 2017 - you can see I needed to prune again to discourage root suckers.
IMG_20170625_172231609.jpg

March 2018 - Got a leader growing, this will be the next segment of trunk. The leader was over 6 feet tall by the end of 2018. It got to be about 1/2 the diameter of the trunk below, I should have left it until it was about 2/3rds of the diameter of the lower trunk, but I got impatient, and in October I cut it off just 3 inches above where it leaves the main trunk. Next I will pick 2 future sub-trunks from the spring 2019 shoots. Long term this may become more upright. The angle was my original thought, but it looks like the new roots will let me stand it up more upright.
IMG_20180318_170130914_HDR.jpg

I need to get back to the farm to get a end of year picture.
 

Hack Yeah!

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Looks great, no worries about posting anything here about hornbeam care or styling. Thanks for sharing
 

Hack Yeah!

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And the last one, I had cut it back harder than the others, I've also considered chopping lower, decisions for next year20190411_151702.jpg20190411_151744.jpg
 

Hack Yeah!

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Nice trees. I (am new to bonsai and) noticed there are no feeder roots in your root pictures? I thought when you collect a tree from the wild you need the smaller feeder roots as well?
It is highly species dependent but some deciduous trees can be cut back at collecting like I did these. Coniferous species need as much root as possible collected in order to have a chance at survival
 

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