NA Hornbeam Pre-bonsai

Scrogdor

Mame
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Found a great bonsai nursery in my area and picked up this North American Hornbeam. It got a little scorched during the heat wave a couple weeks ago, but it’s leaves will fall off soonish anyways. End of Summer stock was a little low, but I’m new so I don’t need anything super fancy, and this will make some good practice for the super low price point.

Some things I like:
It has a great first branch, and the lower trunk has nice curve. A good amount of branches to work with
Some things I don’t like:
The upper trunk is pretty straight, and is bare with a lot of nubs from prior branches cut off.
The nebari isn’t great, and I think that one root is dead, but I’m not sure if anyone can confirm for me. Perhaps I can ground layer it later down the road if it survives my poor experience.
There was also a small dense root pad under the pot that I didn't notice until I got home, so I'm guessing this was a little neglected

Overall I'm super excited to do some pruning and shaping just before spring and watch this thing fill out! Appreciate advice anyone has!
 

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Scrogdor

Mame
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Had some time to try and map some stuff out. If I trunk chop this where the red line is, can I expect a new leader at the dormant buds below it? OR will it die back all the way to the first branch there so that becomes the new leader? This concept about trunk chopping still confuses me; on where the new leader is likely to appear if there are dormant buds closer to the chop than an active branch. I know both scenarios can happen, but which is most likely? Other option is I could chop it above that high branch there, but I'm thinking that section of trunk would be too long/straight.

Also: I know the nebari is a mess, just focusing on this for now. Picked this up for next to nothing.
 

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A. Gorilla

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Forget the hornbeam a second. Thats a newly planted suburban easement tree. Put that in a landscape of grass, a sidewalk, and a fire hydrant!
Screenshot_20210924-064922_Chrome.jpg
 

Scrogdor

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Forget the hornbeam a second. Thats a newly planted suburban easement tree. Put that in a landscape of grass, a sidewalk, and a fire hydrant!
View attachment 399579
It’s not a bad idea. Was the first tree I ever repotted before I found this forum….. It’s not harming anyone so I’m just gonna let it be
 

hinmo24t

Masterpiece
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cool hornbeam. im a fan and have some hophornbeam.
dont know a ton about their develoment yet but looking at yours i might entertain a
1/3 or .5 reduction and work on refining it from there
 

rockm

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FWIW, even though you got this tree (it's Carpinus Caroliniana-not North American Hornbeam) for only a little money, it's got some huge issues that are going to nag it for a very long time. The nebari is a complete mess that is going to take a ground layer above it to sort out--or an agressive root pruning in the next five years that flatten it out.

Also, it looks extremely sunburned. This is an understory tree here in the east. If grows in wettish creek and river bottom environments. It does not like direct sun for a long time. Needs shade in the afternoon.

I'd pull this tree out of the pot next spring hack off the bottom third or half of the root mass, then put it into a bonsai pot with decent bonsai soil and let it alone for three years. Get to know its care -- it might be a challenge in Cali. Don't make any design plans for it-FWIW, existing branching probably won't be useable--the first branch emerges at too steep of an upward angle to be of much use down the road...

FWIW, Carolina Hornbeam can be collected with really good nebari easily. Good nebari is a signature of this species. If you like the species, and get this one to live for a few years in your area, move on from it. They're pretty common here in the east. Zach Smith at Bonsai South is a good source for really good collected hornbeam stock.
 

Scrogdor

Mame
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FWIW, even though you got this tree (it's Carpinus Caroliniana-not North American Hornbeam) for only a little money, it's got some huge issues that are going to nag it for a very long time. The nebari is a complete mess that is going to take a ground layer above it to sort out--or an agressive root pruning in the next five years that flatten it out.

Also, it looks extremely sunburned. This is an understory tree here in the east. If grows in wettish creek and river bottom environments. It does not like direct sun for a long time. Needs shade in the afternoon.

I'd pull this tree out of the pot next spring hack off the bottom third or half of the root mass, then put it into a bonsai pot with decent bonsai soil and let it alone for three years. Get to know its care -- it might be a challenge in Cali. Don't make any design plans for it-FWIW, existing branching probably won't be useable--the first branch emerges at too steep of an upward angle to be of much use down the road...

FWIW, Carolina Hornbeam can be collected with really good nebari easily. Good nebari is a signature of this species. If you like the species, and get this one to live for a few years in your area, move on from it. They're pretty common here in the east. Zach Smith at Bonsai South is a good source for really good collected hornbeam stock.
It is for sure sunburned, and yeah the roots are a mess haha. The nursery it was at it was just in full sun, and it was like this when I got it. I live close to the water and my balcony is north facing, so the spot it's in only gets morning sun and then is shaded.
That was my plan though, I'm so new right now that I'm always reluctant to cut branches out of fear. Once I can build some good branch structure on my cheap trees I'll be willing to pay up for some nice nebari, all the nursery's i've been too price their trees mainly on that feature. Hoping to be doing this 30 years from now, so I have some time :)
 

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