next year's project - suggestions?

brewmeister83

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So I came across this very unusual cherry birch (betula lenta normally grows straight as a beanpole in the woods around here)
image.jpg
Sorry about the orientation, don't know how to rotate pics on my phone so they post right.

This thing is huge, the trunk at the base is easily 8" but with a tree this big I have some concerns about how to collect it being it would be the first time I collected anything this big. Should I trench the whole thing in one go, or trench 1/2 the roots one season and the other half the next season, or should I dig down and tourniquet the major roots to induce growth closer to the trunk? What do you guys think, what would you do if you were collecting it?

*I know birch can be fussy about bonsai training, but I've never seen a cherry birch rot and die back and grow from a burl around here. They callus over and keep on growing, unlike white or grey birch, so I figured it might be worth a try - as a side note, I wonder if not readily rotting has something to do with the methyl salicylate in their sap (the stuff that gives the tree its wintergreen smell when you break the branches)
 

will0911

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if i came across a root spread like that i would think it would have decent roots under the dirt...however if you are going to trench i would only do half...if you are going to trench the entire thing at once might as well take it with you...personally if i saw this i would just get a big enough rootball and take it without trenching but nothing wrong with it at all. good luck! has great movement!
 

brewmeister83

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Yeah, and the bend is three dimensional too, it spirals kinda like "man made" bonsai stock. Granted it has a little issue with taper, but I think I can solve that in one word - Sabamiki :eek:
 

Smoke

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upright now.
 

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jkd2572

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Still looks like an elephants foot!!
 

Dirty Nails

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I think it looks like the foot and leg of a tall dinosaur. I have no experience digging something this big but have read that you can take a shovel and cut straight down in to the earth around it severing roots now and then by next spring feeder roots will develop around the cut so they will be in place when you transplant it. Don't wiggle the tree or anything just make the cuts.
 

will0911

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i think its worth collecting...i also think this looks better than the standard s shape you're referring to. If you chop it after the second bend you can wire a leader so it loses the s shape. If you don't like it you can ship it to me!
 

brewmeister83

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...cut straight down in to the earth around it severing roots now and then by next spring feeder roots will develop around the cut so they will be in place when you transplant it. Don't wiggle the tree or anything just make the cuts.

Is now the optimal time to do said technique?
 

brewmeister83

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i also think this looks better than the standard s shape you're referring to.

It's really weird, I've always thought that several conventional "styles" of bonsai looked unnatural because I've never seen example of such trees in the wild (I'm one of those I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it kind of guys). In the past two month's I've come across a natural semi-cascade, raft, driftwood, and now this "s" shaped trunk - I feel like mother nature's sticking her tongue out at me and reminding me that I don't know everything about plant growth patterns...:rolleyes:
 

Paradox

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I am not sure about that particular species, but birch in general are susceptible to birch borers. Each cultivar has varying resistance. The birch borer is attracted to fresh cut wounds during its reproductive season. Once infected, it quickly begins to destroy the tree and it is very difficult to save the tree. Sealing the woulds does nothing to deter the borers. The seasonal reproductive cycle is generally May through August in the northeast. You should do no pruning during that time.

I have a river birch I purchased last year (June 2012) at Home Depot so that I could play around with the species. Its a double trunk and it was 8 feet tall when I bought it. I kept it in its pot all summer and just watered it. When hurricane Sandy hit the area, it was getting blown over on the deck. I couldn't put it in the garage at the time (too much other stuff in there) and I was afraid that some branches that Id want might break. Id read that pruning in late fall-early spring was acceptable considering the birch borer issue. I figured the growing season for the tree was pretty much over anyway (October 30) so I went out with a hand saw and cut the top 4 feet off of it and sealed those with vasoline.

When winter came, I put the tree in the garage. I cut some more off of it in January to reduce the height. In early March, I noticed buds starting to push out. I repotted the tree and left it in the garage for another 2 months until it got warm enough to put it outside. It has since exploded with new shoots all over the place.

Just thought my experience might be helpful in planning out your collection and development of this tree.
 

brewmeister83

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I am not sure about that particular species, but birch in general are susceptible to birch borers. Each cultivar has varying resistance.

Did a little research and I found that birch borers preferentially go for the exotic white barked trees (like european white or himilayan) before going for the native white and non-white birches, and since the woods are filled with grey birch up here I don't have to worry as much (although I will be keeping my eyes peeled nonetheless...) It also seems it has to do with the health of the plant, like how emerald ash borers only attack sick ash trees... You should count yourself lucky Paradox, seems that their least favorite birch is river birch. Here's the article in case anyone wants to read it:

http://www.entomology.umn.edu/cues/extpubs/1417bbb/DG1417.html

Thanks for the timing on when your birch started pushing buds. Since you guys in Long Island are about three weeks ahead of us growing season wise I now know when to dig it up and what I can get away with when it comes to pruning. I just trimmed the large roots last week to promote new root growth (luckily there were still a lot of fine feeder roots near the trunk) so we'll see how this birch does.
 
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Paradox

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You should count yourself lucky Paradox, seems that their least favorite birch is river birch.

We have a lot less birch growing wild here than you do which might cut down on the borer population or it might make mine more attractive. Who knows, I just know they do occur here. The fact that fresh cut wounds attract them was just something to keep in mind as a precaution when working with any birch.
 

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