Silver birch advice

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Silver birch advice

Post  Shohin on Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:36 am

Hi, everyone, I have seen a silver birch on Facebook - bonsai group. Someone asked help related to his silver birch, and I found it hard to give him any advice. Then I thought that experienced bonsai artists like you could help.

Thank you,
Shohin

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Re: Silver birch advice

Post  JimLewis on Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:44 pm

No. I think they may have been right. Smile

Maybe something could work if it were tilted more to the left, or maybe if a taller-than-the-tree rock were put on the limbless side, or the trunk had a bend or two, or . . .

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Re: Silver birch advice

Post  Smithy on Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:30 pm

I've been getting rid of the ones i have been collecting. Branches just seem to die for no reason which is frustrating . I would rather give the space to something more reliable.
That one is going to be tough to do something with.

What advice did they want.

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Re: Silver birch advice

Post  Kev Bailey on Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:39 pm

Silver Birch are a relatively short lived pioneer tree. We've discussed their annoying habit of shedding branches unpredictably before. I lost several important branches on one that I'd worked on for many years, from seed, just as it was getting near to the image I wanted.

I have still got another one, a large yamadori that has very unusual deep corky black bark between the silvery white plates. It may make something in a few years, If I can ever disguise the chop, until it starts shedding branches!

My advice for this one, get easier, better starting material.

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Silver Birch Advice

Post  bonsaisr on Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:56 pm

I tried to find the birch in question, but I am not a FaceBook member, so I couldn't. I agree it looks a bit hopeless. I have a 'Trost's Dwarf,' which also lost a couple of branches. However, first point is to find out where that "silver birch" came from. This is where the botanical name is so important. If it is an American tree, either Betula papyrifera or B. populifolia, it is probably not worth bothering with. Some other American birches, like river birch, reportedly make fairly decent bonsai. If it is the European weeping birch, B. pendula, it might be worth practicing on. Walter Pall said there are B. pendula bonsai 30 years old.
My advice, fwiw, if the owner doesn't want to ditch it, come spring, cut the branches back some & plant it in the ground. It doesn't look very convincing as a wind-swept, so you want to try to get it to sprout branches on the other sides. Only if you plant it in the ground will you get white bark.
Iris

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Re: Silver birch advice

Post  Shohin on Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:44 pm

First, I want to thank all of you for your well documented answers. I know that birches are stubborn and hard to work with.
Jim, your idea of placing a nice rock to hide the branch-less part of the trunk is appealing, and, probably, feasible. Splitting the trunk is also a nice idea, although it is not for the faint hearted Smile
Kev, I agree with you. Iwould have let it grow in the nature. But some people like to be challenged...
Bonsaisr, I took for granted that it was a Betula pendula.
But what do you think about this suggestion? I'll quote it, because I cannot assume it's paternity:
"What I would really love to see you do is turn this into a raft style bonsai. Turn the tree on its side with the three branches acting like a small forest."

Thanx again,
Shohin

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Re: Silver birch advice

Post  JimLewis on Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:02 pm

3 branches certainly make a "small forest" -- emphasis on the small.

You'd need a big pot. The roots are way down on one end.

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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: Silver birch advice

Post  bonsaisr on Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:10 pm

Shohin wrote:
"What I would really love to see you do is turn this into a raft style bonsai. Turn the tree on its side with the three branches acting like a small forest."
Shohin
I agree that would be an excellent suggestion. Try to bend the trunk (you will have to crack it anyway to stimulate rooting) so the three trees are not in a straight line. Once the raft is on its way, perhaps a year from now, I still think it would benefit from being in the ground a couple years.

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