Entry: Japanese white beech – fagus crenata – United Kingdom
This tree was a very neglected piece of bonsai material that has struggled in the UK for 10 years now, so much so that 3 trunks in the initial pictures are totally dead and the tree has been left to go unstyled and virtually unpruned due to its weakened state. I decided to enter this material as I feel it is equally as meritous to bring back a lost or dying bonsai tree as it is to create a ‘new’ one from raw stock. Too many lovely bonsai trees are lost every year so the opportunity to recover, re-design and save a lost tree was too tempting.
Plan is to remove the dead trees, separate some sections of the trunks (this could be hard as many roots are actually fused together), find a better front for the main trees and restyle the group into a balanced and pleasing planting.
initial pictures attached show the Sunday paper with date etc, my wife Mandy for scale and tree ‘as is’.
One Quarter Progression
As mentioned in first entry the tree was not very strong and was purchased with 2 dead trunks and an unknown number of weaker trees in the group. The group was removed from the pot and seperated so the dead trunks and their roots could be removed. 3 trees were fused together completely below the soil line so these have stayed together, but potted at a new angle to show the root flare and trunkline better. I waited for the trees to break dormancy and leaf out then made 2 air layers from branches in the top. This is an experiment to see if future trunks can be propogated to increase the group into a forest planting. About 15 guy wires were used to ease down some of the many upward branches that will be used in the final design.
Half Way Progression
Two further trunks remained weak so I removed them, leaving 5 good strong trees. Minimal pruning was done to allow the trees to build some strength and the air layer that was fully ring barked made roots so it was removed to a seperate pot. The airlayer with a wire torniqet did nothing, so it was cut off. Late summer the upper trees were thinned of un-needed branches and a little shape was pruned in. Now I’m just waiting for the trees to draw in the nutrients from the leaves and once they go brown they will be removed carefully so the buds at the bases are not damaged.
Three Quarter Progression
The trees will be transfered to the proper pot – an older Walsall Ceramics glazed Oval, and the two smaller trunks on the right will be bought in closer to the main tree so the bonsai becomes a 5 tree group rather than a forest. All the guy wires will be removed and the branches fully wired with aluminium. The wire will be removed as the new buds extend in late spring so the bark is not marked when the branches swell.
The group was repotted from the very large mica into a smaller but nicer oval. The two trunks on the right were repositioned closer to the main tree and rotated to a better view point. With the weak (and dead !) trunks removed the planting now has trees of equal strength and vigour.
The group has been loosly wired with aluminium, strong upper growth pruned back to buds pointing in the right directions and 5 or 6 branches are held with guy wires. Once the terminal buds open and extend they will be pruned back to 2 or 3 leaves and the wire will be removed so the branches do not mark
Overall I am very satisfied with the tree. looking back at the first picture to now this group is returned on the path to being a nice bonsai from being a neglected piece of material. The tree has improved the inner ramification last summer as all terminal growth was shortened so inner buds could grow or develop.
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Final Outcome: 5
nice group, unfortunately the second largest tree looks like an artificial whip and should not be in the composition like this at all, it was not a good idea to air layer it and cut off the interesting part of the crown. The overall silhouette is fine, a bit too even.
[tab title=”Judge #2″]
Final Outcome: 8
Nice progression for recovering a neglected bonsai. But the end result is not much different than what was started with. Looks like a refinement.
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Final Outcome: 7