American hornbeam, Carpinus caroliniana, is one of my favorite species for bonsai and a great choice for beginners. This particular specimen has been with me through six growing seasons now. This past year I repotted the tree, which gave me a good opportunity to do some work on the roots, and of course the tree responded as hornbeams always do. Here’s where it ended the growing season:
I let the tree grow out because it continues to need thickening of the branches, plus following the root-pruning I didn’t want to begin the pinching and refining process in the same year. This can be done starting next year.
This operation took me about 15 minutes. I removed all of the downward pointing branches and the crossing branches, and brought the profile of the tree inward. I also shortened the very long leader, which was allowed to grow unchecked to continue thickening the transition point as I build taper in the apex of the tree. I left this cut long, just to protect buds that are already apparent lower down on this leader. I’ll recut in the spring, and begin the process of finishing the very top of the tree.
Stay tuned for updates on this specimen in 2017. Also watch for new hornbeam stock, which should start appearing around March or April.
Comments are welcome, as always.