Looking for inspiration with a silver birch.

Graft

Mame
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Hi bonsai nutters.

I bought this as untrained bonsai a couple of weeks ago. It has dead wood and a very healthy live vein. Just not sure what to do with it. I will be letting it grow until spring when I will repot into a pond basket or bonsai pot.

71B2F035-640D-4C04-A6F9-1909B40F3039.jpeg

DA7C6A82-FCF1-40FD-9952-5F2365D7CB3A.jpeg
ED017673-1AD0-4C7A-AF64-97778455DBEC.jpeg

Better view of the deadwood.
33F4AF64-BF5F-4A85-B005-ADFB6378A26D.jpeg

Better view of the live vein.
22B9F809-A045-40EA-BED3-B1F1E024CB24.jpeg

Any help, advice, inspiration would be much appreciated. I do think it has potential but I'm not sure what as!
 

Rivian

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Well I hope you didnt pay too much, silver birch is troublesome. I would not listen to anyone who says to cut it back to a stump, thats not worth it with this species. Better to enjoy it while it lasts. I would say carve the upper dead end of the trunk to create deadwood (or carve it away completely), and take off enough material so the inverse taper disappears. Cut off the branch that goes straight up and is right next to the deadwood. Additional cuts and wiring after the leaves have fallen.
This tree is in its final stages of development, its time to create the branches.
 

Graft

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Well I hope you didnt pay too much, silver birch is troublesome. I would not listen to anyone who says to cut it back to a stump, thats not worth it with this species. Better to enjoy it while it lasts. I would say carve the upper dead end of the trunk to create deadwood (or carve it away completely), and take off enough material so the inverse taper disappears. Cut off the branch that goes straight up and is right next to the deadwood. Additional cuts and wiring after the leaves have fallen.
This tree is in its final stages of development, its time to create the branches.
£20.00 I bought a few different species all £7 - £25 each. Oak, Larch, Crab, Hawthorn, and birch. I will post pictures when I need MORE HELP!!! Thank you very much for taking the time to reply. How would you work the branches as at the moment all they want to do is grow straight up. But I don't want it to look like a twig sticking out from a trunk if you know what I mean. Which direction would you wire them.
 

brewmeister83

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But I don't want it to look like a twig sticking out from a trunk if you know what I mean. Which direction would you wire them.

If you're looking for inspiration, give this page a read:

Bonsai4me Birch Progression By Harry Harrington

His material has a similar feel to yours, something like his birch might be worth a shot
 
Last edited:

HorseloverFat

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I like Birch...

If it were mine.. I would attempt a “clump on a raft”... but I’m strange..

🤓
 

Forsoothe!

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I would agree with calling all Birch problematic, and a wounded one is even worse. I don't see a design that doesn't do something significant with the big hump nurturing the upper ~trunk~. It needs so much design work to make that transition less ugly that I don't believe it will live. Deadwood on a Birch is like an open sore inviting infection, too.
 

Graft

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I checked on the link given by @brewmeister83 and thought I would try. So after an hour it now looks like this.
ACB3CBCA-9B2C-4631-9481-674045A3AF02.jpeg
I will droop the branches down. Then in the words of Ivan drago. If it dies it dies.
 

Graft

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My first attempt at carving.
 

JonW

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Birch wood is very soft - while I have no direct experience, my first thought would be whether I want to preserve it (with wood hardener or, as Harry Harrington suggests, cyanoacrylate, AKA, super glue), or if you are okay with it breaking down over time.

The other thing is the angle of the tree will make a big difference with that straight trunk. I might even further accentuate the angle that you have it planted. I'd tilt it even further.
 

Graft

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Birch wood is very soft - while I have no direct experience, my first thought would be whether I want to preserve it (with wood hardener or, as Harry Harrington suggests, cyanoacrylate, AKA, super glue), or if you are okay with it breaking down over time.

The other thing is the angle of the tree will make a big difference with that straight trunk. I might even further accentuate the angle that you have it planted. I'd tilt it even further.
I don't mind it slowly decaying. And your probably right about the angle. I will be doing the rest of the work in spring if it is still viable.
 

Graft

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Hi Guys,

I've done a bit of wiring on this tree, chosen a front and a planting angle. It is (so far a very vigorous tree. I've chopped the branches back on top for denser foliage, I will let the wired mid branches grow to give some thickness for branch tapering. What do you think so far. Anything I could do differently???
IMG_2168.jpg
 

HorseloverFat

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Hi Guys,

I've done a bit of wiring on this tree, chosen a front and a planting angle. It is (so far a very vigorous tree. I've chopped the branches back on top for denser foliage, I will let the wired mid branches grow to give some thickness for branch tapering. What do you think so far. Anything I could do differently???
View attachment 327939

Looking Awesome!

I feel that “the eye” definitely wants that leader to eventually orient itself angled back one more time (In the future).. but I understand that’s near impossible to achieve at THIS point in it’s development.. I just wanted to say it. 🤓

The deadwood still looks nice, what are you “treating” it with. (I apologize if you’ve already covered this)
 

Graft

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@HorseloverFat I'm pretty lucky as behind that leaf hiding part of leader is a new shoot coming off to the left. I haven't treated the dead wood with anything apart from a liberal spraying of anti fungus every few weeks. I will probably paint it with lime sulphur before the air becomes too damp here.

Thanks for the kind words.
 

Graft

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Wonderful!

This makes me MUCH more excited about this tree.
This is the nearest tree i have to a "finished" bonsai. I reckon another 3 years to taper the branches and it should start to look something. I'm pretty excited too!!
 

0soyoung

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Congratulations on getting it going. You've got the horticulture part down apparently.

Now you should be giving some thought to the artistic side of this adventure. I would be working with just this much of the tree. The problem, though, is that all three branches are on the backside in this view and should be in front. If you are determined that this shari is the feature of the tree, I think you need to focus on somehow making these branches turn this direction, reversing their present flow.

SharedScreenshot.jpg
 

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