Short Tree in a pot

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Short Tree in a pot

Post  burslf on Wed Sep 30, 2015 10:19 pm

Hi
I’m hoping to get advice on how to deal with this small tree in a pot!

I’ve had it since 2001 which is when I dug it out of the front garden and planted it up in regular soil.  Living opposite a road junction the silhouette created when cars went by was casting a moving shadow across the glass in the front door making my wife think there was always someone loitering outside! She said it had to go, so it went, but not too far…

Its been in the pot ever since and as you can tell has received no real bonsai treatment.  Its been repotted a couple of times.  It actually dried out this year and lost all its leaves, I watered it religiously then for a few weeks and it returned from the grave.

So I’ve spent the last two months reading and listening as much as I can on-line about bonsai and decided that I want to develop this tree.   I recognise that a little knowledge is dangerous, hence my request for educated input.

As you can see (below) I have applied some guy wire to move some branches to space them (will need re-orientating over winter if kept) and I have fashioned some ‘uro’ sealed with a product that is very like plasticine!  Just playing really at this stage.  Also I want to get it in a shallower pot in the New Year using some low dust cat litter from the local supermarket!

I have seen that trunk chopping at a height equivalent to 4x the base (2/3 the final tree height) can be a way to go, then growing out a new top, building taper etc, but have also seen some progressions with trees that are up to 12 times the height of the base width with a little taper, though the branches are spaced differently to these.

My thoughts are as follows, not necessarily in this order:
a) trunk chop at height of 4x base thickness and lose the top
b) trunk chop lower down having air layered the top to utilise the upper branch structure and/or a spare trunk
c) use it all and style the top of the tree based around the thicker branches, though I think these might be too thick
d) there is probably a ‘none of the above’ (most exciting option)

FWD


LEFT


RIGHT


TOP



Over to you and thanks in anticipation… pale

burslf
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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  M. Frary on Thu Oct 01, 2015 1:24 pm

First off what is it and can it take drastic cutting?
Second, I chop at 2 times the diameter. First chop should be 1/3 the height of the finished tree. So if it's 4 inches in diameter I cut them down to around 8 inches tall. Then grow out the next section and chop it at 1/3 the height of the original chop. At 8 inches that's just under 3 inches. Repeat until you get a trunk,then work on branches.
Kind of like paint by numbers for bonsai.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  burslf on Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:09 pm

M. Frary wrote:   First off what is it and can it take drastic cutting?
Second, I chop at 2 times the diameter. First chop should be 1/3 the height of the finished tree. So if it's 4 inches in diameter I cut them down to around 8 inches tall. Then grow out the next section and chop it at 1/3 the height of the original chop. At 8 inches that's just under 3 inches. Repeat  until you get a trunk,then work on branches.
 Kind of like paint by numbers for bonsai.

Thanks - I'm not sure what it is but regardless I often have to rub out adventitious buds so suspect it would be OK. I have heard of using both 1/3 and 2/3 for the first chop so would be happy to do 1/3 having tried to save another lump of trunk by air layer first. I assume that you alternate sides for each repeat or even use the same side to get a slanting result. I'm not sure I have seen an example where the first chop is at 1/3 height, do you have any links please?

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  beer city snake on Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:20 pm

[quote="burslf"]
M. Frary wrote: I'm not sure I have seen an example where the first chop is at 1/3 height, do you have any links please?
knowing mike, i am willing to bet he learnt that by doing it rather than from a website Wink

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  LanceMac10 on Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:28 pm

Frary prunes with an axe, fertilizes with steroids and gives his older trees cigarettes......

But he does outline the basic method behind a chop and grow...

Don't be afraid to experiment, but build a good horticulture foundation first......

Good luck!!

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  steveb on Fri Oct 02, 2015 2:56 am

It looks like a beech.  Do the leaves turn brown and stay on the tree all winter?  If so, beech.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  M. Frary on Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:55 am

I wouldn't know how to post a link to save myself.
But you are correct in saying if you want informal upright trunk you alternate the side the branch comes off of on the next section of trunk you plan to grow. Gives it that nice sinuous back and forth movement.
On your tree. It looks beechish or hornbeamish. This will take a while. They grow slow but we are doing bonsai here,not stock car racing. To speed up the growing process I would stick it into a collander or better yet,in the ground.
I don't really have tree steroids but some of my trees do indeed like a smoke every so often.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  M. Frary on Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:07 am

beer city snake wrote:
burslf wrote:
M. Frary wrote: I'm not sure I have seen an example where the first chop is at 1/3 height, do you have any links please?
knowing mike, i am willing to bet he learnt that by doing it rather than from a website Wink
Kevin,I actually learned it from the only bonsai book they have in our county library over 20 years ago. Make the chop,grow next trunk section,chop,repeat. Also at every chop or close to the height of the chop there should be a branch. Thus putting the first branch 1/3 the height of the tree off of the ground and the next branch a third of that distance making the branches get closer as they go up the tree. It also insures that the branches will be thickest at the bottom and thinner at the top.
I also have to add,this is the formula for growing decidious material into those cool looking pine tree shaped trees like a lot of tridents.
This formula also works for brooms. The only difference being after the first chop let 3 or more buds into the next leaders and so on.
I hope this all helps.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  burslf on Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:31 pm

M. Frary wrote:  To speed up the growing process I would stick it into a collander  or better yet,in the ground.
   

Apart form being a 'deep' pot, I assume allowing the roots to grow more, is there any particular benefit of using a collander vs just a bigger pot?

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  my nellie on Fri Oct 02, 2015 10:45 pm

http://bonsaitonight.com/2014/03/25/in-praise-of-colanders/

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  burslf on Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:40 pm

steveb wrote:It looks like a beech.  Do the leaves turn brown and stay on the tree all winter?  If so, beech.

Have had a look today, the buds are starting to form a bit better now, I think this was delayed because of the drying out and regrowth this season. The leaves in UK just beginning to change depending on where you are and variety of tree. I will go with Beech, thanks.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  burslf on Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:45 pm

my nellie wrote: bonsaitonight

That's interesting to see and I do fancy giving it a go.  I reckon I will try a pond basket.  Not sure why it works but I can live with that.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  burslf on Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:51 pm

Thanks all for the responses to date. No one has suggested styling the tree as is so The Axe and cigarettes are coming out next year Wink . I will try to save an extra trunk (or two) by layering first and probably chopping at the back end of the year.

I'll do some photos to record same.

Let me know if you have any more ideas in the meantime.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  BrendanR on Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:33 pm

Where in the south east are you? There are loads of clubs, and this tree will probably do well if you get ideas from experienced club members. PM me if you don't want to post your details, and I'll see if I can refer you to a good club. I'm near Maidstone, and it is good.

I would not chop it until you have had it "discussed" in the flesh - I see some possibly useful options with the tree as an elongate broom style, which is where it is currently going. If thre's nothing there then you may take a view on an airlayer of the top - which is the same as a chop but you just need good advice on where to put the layer.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  burslf on Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:27 pm

BrendanR wrote: I'll see if I can refer you to a good club.  I'm near Maidstone, and it is good.

That's very kind thanks. I am 'near Maidstone' too so that might be the most appropriate. I'll PM to swap details.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  Richard S on Fri Oct 16, 2015 6:48 pm

Of course I might be wrong here (obligatory disclaimer!) , but this looks more like a Hornbeam to me rather than a Beech although they are superficially quite similar.

Hornbeam have fatter more rounded buds, Beech buds are longer and very pointy like little arrow heads. Hornbeam also have serrated margins to their leaves while Beech leaves have wavy but smooth edges. The grey bark colour is also more Hornbeam like.

Beech leaf on the left, Hornbeam on the right?



If this is Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus) then that's good because it's a very forgiving tree to work on and responds well to almost all bonsai techniques.

Mind you, Beech can also make very attractive Bonsai so either way you should have a workable piece of material there. Just be warned that bonsai is a very addictive hobby and before long you'll probably have a garden full of small trees in pots!

Hope that helps.

Regards

Richard


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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  burslf on Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:54 pm

Richard S wrote:... but this looks more like a Hornbeam to me rather than a Beech although they are superficially quite similar....


I'll have a closer look at this tomorrow but I see what you mean. Thanks for the steer.

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Re: Short Tree in a pot

Post  burslf on Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:03 pm

Richard S wrote:..., but this looks more like a Hornbeam to me ...


Having tried, and failed, to get the tree in the boot of the car I managed to get to Maidstone Bonsai club, thanks BrendanR, (https://maidstonebonsaisociety.wordpress.com/). A couple of members confirmed the leaf sample I provided as belonging to a Hornbeam.

I'll re-pot in the spring, I suspect that this will lengthen the trunk even more when i dig down to expose the nebari, but should make it more portable and will get some more ideas 'in the flesh' at that time.

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