I acquired this American hornbeam, Carpinus caroliniana, from another collector last summer. It had been wired, a new leader grown out, then allowed to grow to get strong. Today it was time to make the next move with it.

I took the leader way back. It needs to thicken more at the base, but I want to be careful to create taper in it as it develops.

I also removed the strong upright shoot on the first right-hand branch, to make it less heavy. This branch will need to be kept “cool” this growing season. It’s not out of scale, but it has outpaced its brothers.

The last thing for today, carving down the chop area. I’ll be doing additional carving later on, but I needed to cut away some dead wood to get down to live tissue, to encourage callus formation.

I sealed this area, along with the cut point on the leader. Now I wait till spring.

I’ve had my eye on this Water oak, Quercus nigra, for a few years now. It’s suffered some mistreatment, hence the long shari in the upper part of the tree. I’m fine with that, it gives the tree extra character.

The trunk base of this specimen is 1.5″ at the soil, which is adequate to make a nice smaller specimen. I figured on going directly to a bonsai pot with it. There’s a risk doing this, of course, but I don’t mind taking some risks here and there.

There’s not much left, is there! But bonsai is all about finding the essence of your tree. You have to be brutal enough to take off everything that doesn’t add to the “tree-ness” of your bonsai. It’s often tough to make yourself do it, but with enough practice you’ll get right to the hard pruning. Your trees will be better for it.

I think the Byron Myrick rectangle really goes well with this oak.

If this one makes it, I should have plenty of new shoots to work with come spring, and by fall I expect this specimen should be filled out nicely. Water oak grows very quickly, and that makes it very good for bonsai – in fact, right up near the top of the oak list.

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.