Saturday, 14 June 2014

Crenata chronicles II

My favorite bonsai species  - fagus Crenata - Japanese white bark beech - I've had one or more here to look after at all times for a decade now - from a naive first purchase of a European one grown from seed - they have big leaves, terrible coarse growth, smooth browny grey bark and never go white unless you paint them with lime sulphar. After that I realised you only get a good one from Japan so I've sought out such material since, learning and practicing on less expensive ones and now furthering my learning on nicer ones.

My friend and customer had picked the tree he liked from the two specimen trees on this years shipment so it was decided by him really which one I was going to keep - I purposely hadn't studied either tree too much so that way I was happy with either.

I let the tree leaf out and start to harden off without touching it then pruned out some over strong branches that were crowding the apex. Now the leaves were harder I added our fertiliser pellets so the tree can replace the energy spent leafing out and build the strength needed to form next years buds - with crenata the feeding we do now makes very little visible difference to the tree as the cigar buds were formed last year - if we get the tree care wrong this year the buds will be weak and the tree will be poor next year. If you plan on buying a really weak one with a few leaves miles away from the trunk on bare branches be aware it will take many years to rebuild the tree - 

often weak trees lose important lower branches and end up looking like this:

sorry to the seller on ebay trying to sell this tree for using their picture as an example of what a ruined and beyond rescue white beech looks like but this shows just about everything that can go wrong with them - every lower branch gone, a mop of long apex shoots surviving on top with a few leaves on the tips. 

Apically strong

Crenata are so apically strong that left unchecked the lower limbs will be dropped so top pruning is essential

The future of all branches lays with the inner shoots and not with the outer leaves so they have to see some light, and get some air movement - thin the apex and outer canopy , cut leaves in half or more to reduce shading and remove all blind leaves (leaves with no bud at the base).All branches on even the best trees get too old, tired and thick near the ends eventually so a supply of viable inner sub branches are essential to cut back to.

Remember we own and grow these trees to be seen in winter so we need convincing ramification, natural lines and we need to see the trees structure. You see a few poorly ramified trees in exhibits with the brown leaves left on - trying to add a bit more volume and hide the fact that the trees are poor inside where it counts. If we spend the time to do the tree properly they make the perfect winter image tree

When the tree is vigorous the branches tend to rise up - driven by apical strength again - They set quicker if wired in the growing season but we must not scar the bark so I use lots of guy wires and as looser traditional wiring here and there in June

Here she is....................loving the sun.......they are lovers of warmth and need a lot more than our native beech - lack of sun & over proteting is another reason these trees get leggy and weak. (the tree is not yellow on one side, the evening sun is shining through the leaves)

Looking at the above picture we can see the tree is solid with inner leaves - they key point is we can actually SEE them - so they can see the light too. The outer shoots that were shading inner sections were cut back to 2 leaves bearing buds at their bases, as many blind leaves with no buds in these sections were cut off too - they just take up space and offer no help with refining our tree - hangers on if you like

The new buds are forming well now at the leaf bases - I will cut back to 2 in areas where the outer one points in the right direction to continue the branch - if it doesn't you must decide whether to cut back to bud 1 or 3 - The safest method is to cut back to 2 or 3 buds for now and cut again later when you see the number 1 bud is swelling and viable.

The final bonus on this tree was buried under the weeds - a boom nebari, fused roots, the lot. it was like finding buried treasure


There is still a lot of years work on this tree to get it where it needs to be - the first real work will begin this winter when we can see whats going on inside

Has to be this one.........

its in there...................................

but there are others worthy - has to rate as one of the best opening riffs

and as its a great day we'll have one more....oh yes, just one more

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