Advancing the branches of my European Hornbeam (pre) bonsai. It feels like taking step/s backwards in order to hopefully move forwards, and improve the bare branches.
The design up to this point has resulted in pads that feel slightly ‘traditional pine bonsai’ style. The existing finer ramification has some unnatural looking aspects when viewed without foliage.
In this video I’m making the first moves towards improving the structure of the branches primary and secondary pieces.
Cleaning, pruning and wiring will all play a part.
Let’s start a conversation about the apex of the tree though…?
I’m gonna be building the Brent structure and ramification of my European home beam pre bonsai what’s that mean bonsai friends I have already removed all of the spent foliage from the tree I think the first thing that I need to do is cut these right back so that I can actually get to the tree without being poked in the eye or whipped around the cheek so I’m not going to be too fussy I’m simply gonna bring back two but it’s relatively easy for me to locate the approximate silhouette of the tree we have these new shoots rock it off and if you look very carefully there’s a subtle color difference with the new growth being slightly green or the old-growth is more of a gray brown okay that’s a bit better I could actually get to the tree without being jabbed up in the nose now right so down here as you can see a lot of adventitious buds have sprung forth from the trunk and I don’t think I need any of these as part of the design moving forward so if we start down here we’ve got this piece that’s coming from the inside of this Bend don’t need that there’s another little wispy piece here here that we also don’t need in the crotch of these two legs we’ve got a little chute in here definitely don’t need that guy and then up on this leg we’ve got a lot of awkward branches that are just shooting off in weird random directions this one for example is just hanging down and then come forward a really weird angle we’ve got two crossing over each area now half tempted to leave this one not just looks weird just take that one off I’m gonna leave these two little ones for now just here is a good example of some crotch growth so we’ve got this branch here which is a piece of primary structure that we need and where it comes from the trunk we’ve got these little shoots that have emerged we don’t need these they just make the tree look messy and they could contribute to structural issues in the future so we’re just gonna whip those off okay so I’m just going through the tree cleaning out those crutches anywhere awkward pieces are coming from the Junction’s I’m just gonna remove those chop them out there’s another one here look we’ve got this primary structure here need that we’ll keep that what we don’t need is this little wispy thing okay that’s another one some pieces here hanging down some buds we’re just remove them we don’t want them to we don’t want those to extend in spring that’s just a waste of the trees energy a bit later I’d like to ask for your advice and opinions regarding the apices of these two sub trunks I’m a little bit undecided about which way that I’m going to go with them so I’ll ask for your feedback on that okay so let’s get some wire on one or two of these branches [Music] those times back so just a quick couple of tips regarding wiring of your branches that I’ve picked up from various online videos the first is when your wiring to structural branches together with a single piece of wire consider the front of the tree and any ways that you can disguise where the wire is passing from the one branch to the next branch to give you an example the front of the tree is somewhere in this region and I’ve passed the wire towards the back of the tree between these two branches so that it’s not quite so obvious from the front when viewed from the front of the tree so another example when I come to wiring these two branches together with the front of the tree being in this direction I’m going to pass the wire from this branch to this branch along this side so that it’s at least partially obscured from view when viewed from the front by the trunk here the second tip which is always important to think about but is especially important if you want to rotate branches is to consider the direction that you want to rotate and ensure that the terms of the wire follow that direction so if I wanted to rotate this branch counter clockwise or anti-clockwise I would also ensure that the wraps of the wire also take a counterclockwise direction that ensures that when you do rotate the branch that the wire is tightening and acting against the rotation rather than loosening and allowing the branch to return to its original position more easily I’m not gonna go the full 90 degrees so we’re going from a flat structure to a completely vertical structure I’m just looking to tilt a little bit just to bring out some vertical depth okay so we’ve got a little bit of three-dimensionality out here now the branch sweeps down and there back up and I’ve also introduced just a subtle move forwards so for this branch we’re rotating counterclockwise [Music] [Applause] [Music] okay so I’ve done some of the repositioning subtle though it may be of some of these primary branches and it’s getting quite tricky to working it around the finer twigs that exist on the tree at the moment so I think with the length of a lot of these branches being a bit out of whack as well it’s a good time now to to grab the shears and do a bit of pruning so that we can really make better decisions moving forwards and to make any more wire application that bit easier I just make a background to the front I do think that actually this is gonna be pretty important quite bare area here I don’t necessarily want all of the length of this branch but because I don’t have millions of buds to cut back to I am gonna leave a bit of grace just to be safe and ensure that we don’t lose the branch we do get some growth and then in late spring I should be able to come back in and do you another round of pruning that is more suitable to the length that I’m after this twig is actually dead so we can cut that right back to where it jet originates a piece of advice that I received from Andy Hardman is that hornbeam don’t have reliable first buds so if we say that this is the first bud on this piece of ramification if I were to cut back to two according to Andy’s advice that first bird isn’t reliable so it might be that we only get one chute develop so I’m actually going to leave three buds so that we’ve got one to act as a safety I’m really sorry to interrupt the video again but if you don’t mind smashing that like button really helped me out it lets me know that my videos are on the right track I am going to keep this little guy just in case it comes in handy for the future and the same down here there’s some random some random wavy pieces that aren’t ideal but because we don’t have loads of buds I’m not going to go to bananas with the pruning I think somewhere around this length is about right for this branch I’m just looking around to make sure that there are plenty of birds on the piece that I’m going to cut back to there are we’ve got birds around here so I’m going to cut back so they’re so in terms of this back branch again it’s coming right off into the horizon I don’t need all of this length I’m going to make sure that I’ve got plenty of birds that I can cut back to which I do and I’m coming to make a cut so regardless of what happens to the apex I’m going to cut it back quite drastically so that more light can get through to the lower branches and we can build out the lower branches faster so I’ll start with this piece I’m gonna cut back to usable ramification preferably areas where we take one down to two okay and we’ve got a fairly long young piece here I’m actually just going to cut that completely out in here we’ve got this long course piece on the end of this nice fine ramification there’s actually three buds that’s perfect so I can cut back to that all the while knowing that we’re building that but beautiful ramification let’s take that dead twig out and although this piece is a bit long there’s nothing to cut back to and I like the place that it originates from the branch it’s not coerced so I’m actually going to leave that piece even though it’s a little long there in this area it’s a bit long on course it’s got some nice movement but it’s longer than what we need and just below we’ve got two nice shoots there so let’s take that long course piece back to those two I’ve got two very long pieces here going off at all sorts of different angle I’ll take this back to about there this piece is pretty long there’s a nice little Twiggy bit there so I’m going to go right back in with this one if I can throw them away into the branch this piece is also excessively long and we’ve got it’s not got a bud on that piece and we’ve got possibly two on that one so let’s take you back to there there’s a lot of growth coming from this area and it gets quite long and coarse but as it’s not part of the upper region I’m going to hold off on that bit for the time being and we’ve got another long section here far too long dead piece I’m going to cut this one back we’ve got a ditz W bits off so we can see what’s what we’ve got a viable bud here possibly one just here but the next one’s up here so let’s go for cutting back to there a piece off because it’s dead clean that up here we’ve got a long and very relatively straight branch this one tree nuts for the dead stuff so he can make our choices a bit easier we’ve got plenty of side shoots to work with off this piece if we choose to we choose to keep it it comes out here it there’s a junk nice Junction here and then if I keep two of these finer pieces of ramification so you’ve got this if we wish to keep the length and we’ve also got this piece here okay that’s the pruning in the apex done I’ve just spotted something here that’s annoying me let’s just quickly trim that back a bit and then I think just tweak that around just bit more yeah and then this branch can just just treat that just a little there we go so this area and this area was sort of coming together in a sort of almost like an eye shape here forming a probably almost like a nice shape here so that was bothering me so tweet that and then just get rid of this little go you’re not gonna need it after all up in this area this piece over here is interfering with this branch I’m gonna put a nice tweak that we can cut back to here so I’m gonna come in with the cutters take that piece off this piece out here is far too long and if you look carefully right here we’ve got a nice subdivision let’s just make a bit of space get rid of you take that bit out and with a piece of wire let’s weigh this down here and this piece will go above up here [Music] [Music] okay so I’ll bring back a lot the upper region I could bring it back further but I just wanted to take enough off so that you could see what was going on I think it still needs a lot of fine wiring on these finer pieces and I’m certainly not finished at the moment but I just really want to stop and ask for your advice and ask for your opinions on this apical region I’m proposing that we drop it here and build the apex from this area we do have a really conveniently positioned chute here I’m not sure how well you can see it it’s coming from this branch just about up there and if we did chop back to here that would make quite a convenient apex in time it would take the world to thicken up but I think in time that would that would work quite well right so let me know what you think about the apical region do we chop it drop me a comment and if I decide not to do the chop what I’ll do is I’ll do an update of the finish tree over on Instagram Oh Grob on site if I do do the Trop and we do something a bit more drastic then I’ll create a second part of this video and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already so that you know when party comes out if it comes out and if you wouldn’t mind smash that like button really helps me out lets me know that I’m on the right track yeah so for the size of trunk that we’ve got I can’t help but wonder if having the apex way up here it’s just a bit too tall actually and I think a slightly more compact apex roughly here might suit the tree just that little better I mean I don’t want to take this tree right back into the early stages of development but I do you think that there is a bit of potential too there is potential to really improve on this tree just by accepting that we’re adding another I don’t know three four five years on to the development process I think once those years have elapsed it will have been worth it and we would have achieved a step-up in the final quality of this tree over all right let’s give it a nice 360 so you can have a look all around my treat position this little branch at some point another thing I’ve been thinking about is cutting this so trunk right back drastic