Hornbeam Bonsai Masterclass

Hornbeam Masterclass

In which Peter works on a Hornbeam, then another, and another and we thorough enjoy every minute. You can just see his enthusiasm for the art.

so here we are you must be wondering what i’m doing carrying this wheelbarrow but this is a horn beam that we dug out with our great big giant digger and as most of you know by now none of my bonsai are ever small this one is a good four foot high like 1.2 meter or so and almost all the branches are there but before i take it into the greenhouse to work on i will just show you what i’ve done if you come close here i will just show you that this tree was growing originally in a black flower pot and the roots went through the flower pot and into the ground so the flower pot didn’t serve any purpose but it grew a lot of branches but i have been successively cutting this tree the first cut was made there then another cut was made there another cut was made there and then another cut made there another cut made there so they had about six different cuts so this tree has been growing in the ground for again at least 25 years maybe more and this is where it’s got to it’s virtually a complete bonsai but you must be wondering what happened to these bits that i cut of course the answer is that i have successively been air layering from the top top and then making more so i’ve made about six different bonsai from them i will show the other bits as well because i haven’t thrown it away but let’s tidy this up and show you how we can make an instant bonsai so let’s take it into the workshop and we’ll put it on the turntable and hey presto i will show you because all the branches are in the right place it won’t take a lot of work to complete luckily most of the branches are there so i don’t know whether to cut the roots or cut the branches but they all need to be brought back to shape so i know that a lot of these are very very long at least we have a choice of lots of branches if there were no choice then you would be in trouble so it’s just shortening them so while they’re growing in the ground i don’t do very much i just trim them a little bit from time to time but the rest of it is really just letting them grow and by the way we have scores of these going in the field because many of them are produced from air layering so every time i make an air layering either pot it up straight away or they go back in the ground to make thicker and bigger trees we love these big trees i know that not everyone can handle a big tree but a big tree has a presence and a feeling which is quite different from any other tree with many of these trees the trick is to find the leading chute or the leader once you discover where the leader is everything else falls into place and then these long roots see how vigorous it is although it was going in the flower pot it went through the holes of the flower pot and then it comes through and then goes into the ground penetrates the ground and then it’s literally like growing in the field as i’ve said to you many times before there are not many nurseries that grow plants in the open ground if you went back to the 60s maybe even up to the very early 80s there were a lot of british nurseries in the walking area where i used to buy a lot of trees they all used to grow up trees in the open ground but now if you can find a single nursery that exists i think you would be very hard-pressed to find find them there are garden centers that sell plants that are grown elsewhere but as for growing in the ground it’s such a long and tedious process that hardly anyone does it anymore uh there you are now things should get rid of this plastic pot and if you look carefully now i think getting rid of this i won’t again bore you showing how i take a plastic off but that will come off and uh there’s so many branches we’ve got to find the leader that’s growing up this way you see this thick branch here i think if i wanted to that could have even made a leader you see it can go back that way and come back on itself that way but because this is a thinner one i think i could perhaps even use this as the leader and discard the one at the back so that’s what i’m going to do so i’m going to cut the one at the top off because i don’t need that one so let’s get the saw i so i will even put it on the ground on the floor it’s too high for me to work that’s a more comfortable height again i could have earlier this and get a nice short dumpy tree but as i always now say to myself have i got that much longer to wait or do i need to wait so long you’ll never finish a tree if you keep waiting forever but this is almost there so i think i’ve shown you working on other thick horn beams hornbeams produce branches so easily that don’t be afraid of cutting all the branches off within one year you’ll get a whole new set of branches i still reckon that of all the deciduous trees if you want fast results or want to experiment with trees the european hornbeam is probably the best tree to work on because it produces branches so easily there you are big lump taken off so that’s that one cut off i’ve got to now clean the top a little more if you take a closer look at that there’s still a tangle of branches and the top is still very untidy so i’ve got to clean that bit off get a smooth taper so there’s a lot of discussion and talk about creating tape but unless you’re prepared to cut you will never achieve taper so you have to cut let a new shoot go grow that up and then cut it again never ending process and once you’ve retrieved the tape or you stop so i’ve done what is called a sloping cut sloping cut now if you look at the front it’s not quite tapered so it cuts a little more get even better taper so now you realize what a tedious process this can be and you can even use carving tools should you want but for the time being i’ll leave it like that so that’s how i create the tape over there and where i have some very thick branches like this one i can cut that off of you have heard me talk about inverse taper i think by now most of you understand what inverse taper is and that usually happens when you have too many group branches growing from one point if you look at this tree here this one i’ve removed i’ve got one two three four five there in close close proximity and you can already see how it’s swelling there so if you have too many branches at one point you are in danger of getting inverse taper so although these three look very nice branches for the sake of the tree i’ve got to consider which of these i should really remove yeah that’s one here that’s very close i should get rid of that otherwise i may get inverse taper over there so it’s about having foresight to see the future development of the tree so i took that off now there’s still too many there i’m going to take probably the center one maybe you must be saying to yourself he’ll end up with no tree at all no don’t worry it won’t happen see that one is too many it’s even here that too many there seems a shame you know you grow all these lovely branches why do you cut them all off but this is for the future benefit of the tree see now here there are two there i don’t need to take one of them out such a lot there why would i need all that so here again you see how it’s bulging there you see that bulge over here and that is because there’s one two three four five already too many so if you have too many you’re bound to get inverse taper this is what you’ve got to watch all the time not to let it develop too many branches at one spot because that creates inverse taper i think you can correct it by carving a bit of that lumpy wood i was showing on instagram only earlier this week because i was driving through one of the london streets and the london plane trees they are pruned very hard and the way they prune them they get these knob at the end of the branches and they look very unsightly so that comes from constantly pruning and then you get a whole wall that means a bunch of branches like a bunch of flowers growing from that particular point okay now i don’t want the taper to keep growing high and high so i’ll cut it maybe straight over there and then produce a new shoot from here in fact this i can keep but i think it can cause this part to swell too much so i might even have to consider removing this at some point so you got to keep looking ahead so can you see the structure of the tree now i’ll put it on the bench in a minute but perhaps i will stop filming for a while while i get rid of this mud i don’t want to waste time showing you how to cut away a plastic pot so we will show you when i remove the plastic pot now all these roots you see how this root has come back and welded itself on there but the main base seems to be over there so although that route has come out from there it serves no purpose so that’s going to come off oh god serious stuff even that doing nothing these are doing nothing the base is down there one i might leave it’s always nice to find what we call nebari or flare so it’s not just the surface roots we want the roots flaring at the bottom so this has just happened naturally nothing was planned for it but we’re going to have a job getting rid of this plastic but because this tree will take a few years to develop i’m not too worried i know that there’s so much root that taking the odd few roots off won’t hurt the tree many of these roots have just gone round and round but the main flare is over there so we are keeping this as the front with the tree leaning like that these trees these roots because it was growing in the flower pot you could have seen the flower pot the roots have gone round and round so as i’ve mentioned before growing in the flower pot has advantages and disadvantages but the disadvantages are more than the advantages the main disadvantage is that it forces the roots to go round and round and you’ll get what we call a girdling root so all these roots like that are not going to be much use so i’ve got to be uh i think a bit decisive at this point to see what i can get rid of so this all part of the process of creating a nice bonsai horn beams unlike the field maple do not produce themselves from root cutting so even if i were to save this i wouldn’t be able to propagate from those roots so no root cutting in this case oh that’s why we prefer to grow bonsai from air layering because you can control the surface roots to a large extent growing them in the ground and in a flower pot especially cannot control the surface roots so i’m now having to correct the faults with these circular roots or what we call girdling root girdling root in fact is a term it’s a term in tree tree development people who grow trees know them as girdling roots so it is in fact cosmetic surgery to a large extent so this is still the front potential front of the tree that root i could live with it’s not that bad that one coming back on itself i don’t think it’s good so i will cut it from there of course there are no tap roots it’s just side roots i think i’m still all right i’ve got still quite a lot of root going on that i could use but looking at the tree this side should at some point the other side not work this side is also got potential so as we say keeping an open mind is also important that’s a powerful looking route there then we might have to change the front but at the moment i’m still working with this as the front look at the mess i’ve created such a lot of mess well at this stage i think what they say discretion is the better part of valor so probably i shouldn’t go too mad and maybe call it a day and don’t remove any more roots in case the tree were to succumb oh so that’s the tree we’ve got and i’ll find a suitable micropot or a plastic training pot i’ll pot it up and then we will show you the next stage of this tree okay so that’s the plastic training pot we have and that’s the tree i think it fits very snugly and that’s how the roots seem to be sitting and there’s plenty root there absolutely plenty i put two pairs of wires so we’ll now just fill it with ordinary soil and then the next shot will be of this uh tree in that pot and i will talk a little more about further refining but here the roots are sitting as you can see there’s fair bit of root there so i’m just mixing this is predominantly a mixture of bark and some old spent soil horn beams are such vigorous trees you can virtually grow it in garden mud if you want already got quite a nice lean to this tree and just to emphasize we probably have at least 100 trees like this in the field and some with even thicker trunks than this and a lot of them have also been earlier i’ll gradually show you uh the air layings that are still on the tree but i’ve got a couple of air layings that we separated last year and they’re waiting to go into pots so it’s at this stage that you begin to see the tree looking a little bit like a bonsai so it’s got a nice lean to it and it’s virtually there when i tie it i try to go underneath the roots if i can help it so that i don’t mark it more than i need to there you are okay that should be okay of course tying the tree in has become so much part of our second nature as it were that we don’t think twice about tying trees in when we re-pot i still remember the days in the 70s and even in the early 80s tying the tree in was seldom ever done okay i’ll tie this tighter in a minute i’m just going to fill it with soil look at this lot of trash as well i’m not bothered it’s all good stuff so again i’m not even too bothered about wiring any more of the branches because they’re going to grow so prolifically that you’re bound to get more branches in literally no time at all where i find thick branches i will try and remove them because i don’t want them to start causing inverse taper there is one here if you look at that that’s a thick one i’m going to remove that one because i know it can cause a problem later on so i’ll just get my saw so that thick branch is coming off so if you remember when i started off the tree had so many branches and i’ve ended up with very few well that’s the name of the game you’ve got to be prepared to cut but not only that i’m trying to visualize what the tree is going to be like in the future so i’ve got all those things in mind i will just wire these just to give you some sense of the future shape of the tree but it is by no means what the tree will eventually end up being like because i know it will change uh so it’s only this one i need to pull out a little bit so i’ll just get one piece of wire stay there keep filming this tree this branch i just want to make it stay in the position that it will eventually grow into so i’m linking it to another branch to give the anchor we will now take it to the bench on the turntable and i’ll show you what it looks like now it’s now in its spot that didn’t take long i don’t think i’ve even worked half an hour on this tree so most of the branches that i wanted to keep are there this one i can wire down but because it’s quite thick i might even remove that so again you’ve got to visualize what’s going to happen in the future so for the future sake of the tree they i’ll be sure to get more branches coming from there that could be the leader as well i could grow that up and i’m not cutting close back to there but you can see the shape of the tree and in due course that root base could turn out to be quite nice and should i be so inclined sorry i’m using the wrong turn table uh we might even use this side who knows you can always change the front if you wish if you didn’t want the tree that tall you could cut it there and develop a new leader so the horn beams are very very versatile very obliging trees but there you go so we have created that from the original uh mass of branches and this is what we have got rid of got rid of quite a few thick branches and the old plastic pot and that’s it okay we although we’ve done this tree i’m now going to show you something else if we point the camera this way this is another horn beam and believe it or not this came from that tree this was the top of that tree only last year i separated this last year in about the month of august and i’m now going to show you on the turntable what i’ve got here okay let’s take this tree and you must be wondering why i have this in this deep pot usually when i separate air layerings i grow them in moss for a little longer and i want to develop more roots i think i’ll have to remove that big tree so that it won’t confuse you an earlier ring that we did and look at the buds on that if you come close they’re all bursting into leaf all about bursting into leaf so i know that this tree is well on its way to becoming a strong tree now there are many options with this one it may look interesting to you but if you look at it closely i could easily again do an a layering here and make a short tree from this can you see the beautiful curves there that’s what we usually do see this would make a delightful tree again we won’t let these thick branches grow in case we get inverse taper so this would make a nice tree this would also make another nice tree but the tree as it is i will continue to grow it but i don’t think for my mind it would be so interesting so this is the tree which was separated last august and look at the roots that have developed look at all those roots and i told you when i separate the air earrings i still plant it in moss so this is the peter chan sphagnum moss this tree has been growing in sphagnum moss since august since i separated it and the base is there and it’ll surely have some very nice roots so i will continue to grow it because i don’t want to be greedy it’s not ready for being a bonsai i could make three more bonsai out of it i could make this a tree in fact i’ll do it as a project this is another tree and the back one has a tree and then this base will become the future bonsai so you can see the air layering how it has developed since august all these roots have formed and this was cut off from the top of that tree back in august so i’ve got a new air layering from that now let me show you some more air rings that i’ve got just stay there i will bring another one there you are so this one because it’s in the greenhouse is already in leaf if you come close this is typical european hornbeam leaves and it’s already leafed out and just to prove that this was an air layering if you look closely my staff have already put it in a flower pot this is the original sphagnum moss where the air layering was done and all the fine roots are there so it hasn’t got masses of thick roots so the beauty of creating bonsai from air layering is that you get these very fine roots and you can control the surface roots so this has got a long way to go i can probably grow these are sacrificial but there are too many branches there i’m in danger of getting inverse taper that thick branch there i probably won’t need so as i say you got to be selective not ruthless but selective because i know that if i let this grow it will take over and ruin the taper of the tree in fact i should even take that back bit off i know it may look nice for the time being now but it doesn’t do the tree any good it could harm the tree that means it will cause more inverse taper so i’ll leave it there for now because it looks nice with all the leaves but for the future that’s coming off and the future shape of the tree if this is the front it’s got a lovely lean this branch may look nice for now let me see if it looks nice from this side again it looks nice from every side isn’t it it looks nice on this side looks nice on that side if i didn’t want the tree to be too tall i could cut it there and make a short bonsai but i think that taper looks very nice there you see whenever you cut it callouses so quickly so you won’t see the cut in time you know that calluses very fast very fast so all these branches wherever they’re cut they were callous and let’s come back to this side this is still my preferred side it’s still floppy because there’s still an air ring now i have the choice of either making this the taper or taking it there and making that the taper so so many choices for this tree and if i wanted to make that the tape i don’t need to take it all the way to the top so for those of you who have never tried making air layering a hornbeam it’s the easiest tree to root i can guarantee you in six weeks you will get roots growing from the airline if you’ve done it correctly so that could be the new see this is a lovely trunk line like that and coming that and then i could dispense with that but whoever buys the tray may want to decide the future direction of the tree so i never try to foreclose the options in case the future customer has his or her own ideas as to how to develop the tree so there you are another example of air layering that i’ve done no need to rush to put it in a bonsai pot when more roots develop i will put it into that if i now take you outside i will show you some of the uh trees that have been developing since last year let me just get some thick waste over and we will walk out there we will just go over here and show you the horn beams that i’ve done this is a very strange horn beam this i dug out only last year and put it in a mica pot and you can see all the ugly roots and this is ugly branch but there’s so many options for this tree i could air it and make it into several small trees and keep the trees short these roots are not particularly nice so as i said there are lots of options for this but these are ones that i dug up from the ground last year now i’ll show you this big one this one i’ve been progressively working on for many many years and this one if you look at it you may remember from previous videos i keep cutting branches off these are all branches that grew last year all grew last year you see the first cut there second here third fourth fifth and so on and so forth that’s how the taper is made you see look at this branch this was only grown last year it’s already become so thick so that one i don’t need so that’s how we do it so all these branches will be wired see these are all last year’s branches already thick as my small finger in one year so you can get them growing fast in virtually no time at all this was also dug up this year from the field another horn beam and look at it we did some carving there it’s got a very unusual but i would say natural shape you do get trees like this so this is another horn beam and if you notice the horn beams which were in the greenhouse already into leaf but these which are outside haven’t come into leaf yet so horn beams are a particular favorite of mine because they’re so easy to develop and so easy to grow so these branches can now be wired down and then the three is virtually finished they’re still wireable but they do mark look at the if you look at the wire here in one year i think i had to remove the wire after six weeks because it started biting so i only use thin wire and yet it was able to bend it so this again the wire marks are there but if you catch it in time it will soon grow out and it’s in position i could wire it again and i will soon get a very nice triangular shape from this tree so i hope this hornbeam masterclass will give you encouragement to have a go at european home beam one of the easiest species to make into bonsai [Music] you

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