Sunday, December 29, 2013

Yamadori Korean Hornbeam #4

At the beginning of the incredible story of Shinji Susuki, Bonsai Works of Divinity, it was said that, "a bonsai has a universe within itself."  I think that analogy really fits this old, collected tree.  I purchased this material from Bonsai West in the winter of 2009.  I was just enamored by the enormous, melting base, however, the apex was too straight and lacked taper.  In the winter of 2010, I removed the apex and most of the original branches were cut back to a stub.  With assistance from local bonsai artist, Haidar Kazem, the rotting section near the apex of the tree was carved out.  Over time, I realized this section could make an interesting focal point and the small tree growing out from the base could also be part of the composition if this side was made the viewing front.

The tree in 2009 at Bonsai West

A year later, before branch trimming and carving...
After pruning and during carving...
and today...




Thursday, December 26, 2013

Oak Leaf Hornbeam Air Layer (cont.)

As promised from my previous post, I've included photos of the top section of the Oak Leaf Hornbeam and what remains of the bottom section. 
The bottom will make a nice formal upright/broom design and has developed a nice flaring nebari in only a couple years while growing in a shallow wooden training box.  Branches were left to grow freely over the last few years, but were cut back to a stub to develop two, even three additional branches from that location this past summer.  Primary branching is now in place for the most part, although, the right side needs to thicken next year.  The tree is chuhin height.

The top section is a fine example of the unique twists and turns that can develop naturally at the apex of a tree, which is precisely why many of these top sections make such interesting bonsai material.  Most of the branching already has movement and is well refined, so I don't expect to wire the entire tree, but will make every attempt to accentuate the natural appearance. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oak Leaf Hornbeam

During college I served as a volunteer for the American Bonsai Society (ABS) for several years, mainly editing articles and writing the ABStracts column.  During that time period, I was fortunate to visit the beautiful Oregon Coast town of Sweet Home and interviewed one of the owners of Cascade Bonsai Works, Dan Zwierzyna, with the intent of writing and publishing an article for the ABS Journal.  At some point after my visit, the nursery unfortunately closed, but their material was purchased and made available by Wee Tree Farm.  It was at Cascade Bonsai Works that I encountered my first Oak Leaf Hornbeam.

I have always admired Carpinus as followers of my blog know, so I was especially intrigued by this rare form of European Hornbeam.  It was labeled Carpinus betulus ‘Quercifolia’ at the nursery, but my recent research indicates it is now referred to as Carpinus betulus ‘Heterophylla’.  I had originally purchased several larger trees from Dan, but eventually sold them during a time that I wasn’t akin to having any trees larger than chuhin size.

I was fortunate to acquire one again in 2010 from Wee Tree, although I have never seen the leaves on this tree revert to the oak like structure, as I saw on a few of the specimens at the nursery.  I’ve been told that the oak like leaves on this species do not form immediately and generally come with age, but I have yet to see any on this tree.  They do turn brown and hang on to the tree during dormancy, similar to many oaks, but this is also a characteristic of many hornbeams.  I purchased it with the intent on air layering the top, unsure as to what may come of the bottom portion. 

My first attempt in 2012 to air layer this tree was unsuccessful.  Upon inspecting the location of the layer last year, there was a slim portion of the cambium – no more than 1/8”, that managed to successfully transfer enough nutrients to keep the top section alive on the existing root system.  This year, I used the same location, paying special attention to removing all signs of living tissue and girdled the top portion of the layer with wire to further discourage the cambial tissue from forming again.

The layer was successful and removed in September of this year.  I plan to further develop the bottom section, possibly in the broom style.

By the way, that article was published in the NBS, but the wrong author was listed, believe it or not.  I’m sure that person has gone on to have a successful writing career! 

The tree in 2010
The tree in 2013

The air layer

I will post some photos of the potted layer and bottom tree once dormant.  We are experiencing a long, warm fall here in southeastern Nebraska and many trees are just turning.