Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

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Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Richard S on Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:09 am

I bought this Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus) a couple of years ago. It was what you would call "pre-bonsai" rather than completely raw material as it had obviously had some rough shaping done but it was still pretty wild.

What attracted me was the apparent movement and character in the trunk and lower branches. The tree also seemed to have lots of upper branches to select from and actually had quite good ramification in parts as well. Despite still being in leaf I was sure there was a great tree in there just waiting to be discovered.

However it proved more of a challenge than I'd expected. When the leaves came of I realised that although it did have an interesting trunk it also had no taper. There were lots of branches but most were thick, straight, ugly and unbendable. Also, perhaps not surprisingly most of the ramification was at the end of those ugly branches I now knew I would have to cut off!

Oh well, such is bonsai I guess.

I gave the tree a rather half hearted first styling and planted it in a ceramic pot and to be fair it looked OK in leaf but I knew that it would need more radical work eventually if it was ever to be anything better. So I've had another stab at it. Below is my latest effort. I have again reduced the height, removed more ugly branches, done a bit of wiring and selected what I think might be a better front but I'm still not happy.

I do sort of have a plan for tackling what I think are the remaining problems (just shortening it some more really) but before I get the pruning saw and branch cutters out again I thought I'd offer it up on the forum and see if anyone else had any more radical ideas about what I should do with it. I'm still convinced that this could be a good tree but I'm not happy with it as it is.

Any way, this is what I think should be the new front,



Which would make this the new back,



Any suggestions (other than the wood pile) gratefully received.

Regards

Richard

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Tom on Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:07 am

If you could eliminate everything above the point where the wire crosses the trunk (visible on the rear view) then I think you might have a better tree (still using your current front though). The challenge would be to integrate a chop like that into a pleasing design. Maybe worth considering among other ideas you'll get.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  leatherback on Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:13 am

Tom wrote:If you could eliminate everything above the point where the wire crosses the trunk (visible on the rear view) then I think you might have a better tree (still using your current front though). The challenge would be to integrate a chop like that into a pleasing design. Maybe worth considering among other ideas you'll get.

I had a similar height in mind, but just a bit higher.
Not sure I would go that road myself, considering the 6-8 year setback but.. :

Include the small branch just above the crossing wire, make that the new top. Then remove the highers branches so you are left with a top and 3 branches. Chuck the whole thing in the ground for 3-5 years affraid and let the top grow just enough to close the chopmark. Let the side-branches grow out. In the late winter of the last year, remove all the side-branches, and see buds popping all over the trunk. Then rebuild from scratch.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  BobbyLane on Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:41 am

I'd do this
have it tail off into a little shari, ive done something like this on one of my own Hornbeams and ive seen this used many times on trees without little taper and i think it works. eventually you can take the carving slightly deeper.

obviously the v wont be so abrubt but you can tail it off with movement that enhances the flow of the trunk and branches in that area and try to also go with the grain if there is anything there that looks interesting in the texture of the bark.

then you can start building a canopy with those upper branches that are left and they will also give you some nice swelling and callusing.
with this route you dont have to disguise the cut, but simply refine it and make it a feature.

Here's another example:

http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t5655-english-elm-sucker#57975

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Richard S on Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:49 pm

Thanks folks, some good ideas there.

Leatherback, I take your point about chopping it and field growing it to heal the wound then cutting off all the branches but I actually like some of the branches and I could always buy another Hornbeam and do this as well (actually I ought to as there are several nice trunks in the local nursery). So, I think I will try to do more with what I already have but thanks for the suggestion.

In response to the other ideas I have made three virtual images which represent what I think are my main options. As follows.

First the cowards choice Cool This is the very least that I will do to this tree, even if I do nothing else, because it will reduce the height and hopefully in time lead to nice rounded crown. It wont however deal with the horrible taper less sausage trunk top!



The second option is closer to what I think Bobby is suggesting. I actually quite like this (that second left branch could always be wired up to fill the space).



The third and most radical option is perhaps what Tom had in mind?



Either of the last two option would make the tree a lot more interesting but if anyone else has a suggestion I'd love to hear it?

Regards

Richard

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  LanceMac10 on Thu Oct 22, 2015 12:22 am

That third option doesn't look too bad......

Something to consider?

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  BobbyLane on Thu Oct 22, 2015 12:41 pm

Looking at it again, the third option isnt a bad idea, you'd have that very thick branch as the upper most branch and it looks like it would be a smoother transition into an apex. you could obviously have it wired to come back on itself in future.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Tom on Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:26 pm

Seeing your virtuals, I think I'd now favour the second option, that makes use of the smaller branch on the left.

However, given that the branch seems to emerge from (slightly) towards the rear of the trunk, rather than the side, I'd think about making the cut at the front rather than the back. The chop would be very difficult to disguise, so you might consider turning it into a hollowed out area and using it as feature - like the cut you have in the current version 2 but deeper.

I wouldn't wire any of the branches over as an 'apex' - I'd be looking to develop a crown of several rising branches, in a naturalistic (ha!) deciduous style.

Whatever you do, I'd urge you to eliminate the 'sausage trunk' top - I've spent years prevaricating over making the chop on trees with similar problems, and regretted it.



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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Dave Leppo on Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:41 pm

keep that lower (ground level) branch. It's the unique, mold-breaking, non-cookie-cutter feature! Also Naturalistic; you can find a few wild trees with ground-level branches.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  bottasegreta on Thu Oct 22, 2015 4:41 pm

i agree option 3 is clearly the way to go.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  BobbyLane on Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:52 pm

Tom wrote:Seeing your virtuals, I think I'd now favour the second option, that makes use of the smaller branch on the left.

However, given that the branch seems to emerge from (slightly) towards the rear of the trunk, rather than the side, I'd think about making the cut at the front rather than the back. The chop would be very difficult to disguise, so you might consider turning it into a hollowed out area and using it as feature - like the cut you have in the current version 2 but deeper.

I wouldn't wire any of the branches over as an 'apex' - I'd be looking to develop a crown of several rising branches, in a naturalistic (ha!) deciduous style.

Whatever you do, I'd urge you to eliminate the 'sausage trunk' top - I've spent years prevaricating over making the chop on trees with similar problems, and regretted it.



I agree that would make the whole image much more interesting, in image three the tree does lose a little character, 2 would be the way to go.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  JimLewis on Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:47 pm

I'd also go with image 2.  It gives you a bigger batch of future possibilities than the others, though I don't think the "sausage" trunk is quite as bad as you make it out to be -- especially when you consider what the lowest branch will eventually do to help. 

Patience.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Richard S on Thu Oct 22, 2015 11:43 pm

Ah, patience Jim!

It's a virtue they say but in bonsai I'm learning that it's also a necessity.

To be honest, the more I look at the sausage trunk the less I like it. I was initially very drawn to my second virtual, as were most others, but thinking ahead a few years to how the branches might be developed I'm having difficulty seeing how the disparate elements of such a design might be brought together.

Still, at least in this computer age it is easy to play with images and sketch out ideas. After all, I know I could make this radical chop now but equally there's nothing to be lost by waiting until Spring. So, I think I'll do a few more virts and ponder the possibilities some more.

Thanks for all your input and I'm still open to ideas although here is one possibility based more on option 3,



Regards

Richard

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  BobbyLane on Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:20 am

Nice.
There are a couple options, keep us updated!

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Richard S on Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:26 am

Thanks, will do.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Tom on Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:27 am

Richard S wrote: ponder the possibilities some more.

Ponder this one too then Smile

" />

Crude virtual, but you'll get the idea. Focus is on the winter, not summer image in this one. The branch development on the left hand side is probably achievable within about 2-3 years even if you can't bend one of the current twigs over. The branches on the RHS will be better developed and ramified by them, and I'd wire an upwards movement into the twigs. Judicious carving around the chop area.

Lots of possibilities with this tree!

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  LanceMac10 on Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:06 am

Maybe one or three degrees clockwise in picture three, methinks.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Tentakelaertje on Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:42 pm

As said before, I'd go with option two, but keeping the low branch, as it looks great and gives this extra magic to the tree. But perhaps (if possible) shifting it more to the left side, so it doesn't get knotted up with the second trunk.
Tom his virtual would make a nice windswept though, which would be quite unique, I believe.
But know I'm a noob, so here's only the fool talking.
Keep us updated please!

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Vlad on Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:52 pm

What about a raft?

 




Uprooted tree with partially exposed roots.

Leaving the current front & two thickest branches (1st and 4th ).  Bending the top part of the trunk to the right ( at the poit of the 6th branch ) as an option to break the straight line.
Another bend of the current top to the left to form the third branch of the raft.  

For the bends - a relatively small slit on the bark  and then remove the wood through the slit with a drill leaving as much cambium as possible untouched.

I've got a nice pic of a raft published on the ausbonsai forum.  I can PM it to you if you are interested.


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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Intricate Simplicity on Fri Oct 23, 2015 9:54 pm

Tom wrote:
Richard S wrote: ponder the possibilities some more.

Ponder this one too then Smile

" />

Crude virtual, but you'll get the idea. Focus is on the winter, not summer image in this one. The branch development on the left hand side is probably achievable within about 2-3 years even if you can't bend one of the current twigs over. The branches on the RHS will be better developed and ramified by them, and I'd wire an upwards movement into the twigs. Judicious carving around the chop area.

Lots of possibilities with this tree!

I like that idea. "Focus on the winter" -very interesting! And the virtual shows a lot of potential for the tree.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  marie1uk on Sat Oct 24, 2015 10:47 am

Option 3 looks best. Also needs to be placed in a much bigger pot as it's now in development rather than refinement stage. Hornbeams withstand radical root treatment so paring the root system back to fit a pot won't be a problem.

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  Richard S on Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:45 am

Thanks for all the suggestions folks!

I still haven't decided quite what I'll do yet but this discussion has been very useful. I'm not a member of any club and don't have any "bonsai friends" so the opportunity to bounce ideas about with other enthusiast here is one of the best features of this forum for me.

Thanks again to everyone who's taken the time to respond and yes Vlad I would like to see raft image you spoke of.

Regards

Richard

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Re: Tall Hornbeam - styling advice welcome?

Post  M. Frary on Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:16 am

How about something totally different? Maybe lay it on its left side for a raft?

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