Yesterday was my first collecting trip of 2015 for American hornbeam, Carpinus caroliniana. If you’ve been following my blog posts for a while, you know American hornbeam is right at the top of my list for best bonsai species. It’s easy to collect, the survival rate is high, it roots very well in a pot, and it’s fast to train as it grows all season long. You do have to be selective when choosing specimens to harvest. Most tend to be untapering, though when they’re old enough they all present the desirable “muscling” of the trunk. But with persistence you can find what you’re looking for, if you’re inclined to collect your own.

Hornbeam2-8-15-2For those who prefer their material already collected and ready to train or maintain, here’s an idea of what’s coming in spring. This specimen has a 3″ trunk diameter 4″ above the soil surface and is 22″ to the chop. The muscling of the trunk is amazing! I think this will make a tall, masculine bonsai in a couple of years. (For those of you who like shorter specimens, yes, the trunk can be chopped again below the curve. In this case I figured we can always take more off, but it’s a lengthier process to put back on.)

I was fortunate to find several of similar quality yesterday. Look for them to start showing up for sale around May.






Finally, on very rare occasions you can collect a ready-made bonsai from the wild. I’ve had this occur in far less than 1% of all the trees I’ve collected. Yesterday I came across this specimen. Nice twin trunk with branching and sub-branching, pretty much styled by nature, ready for a bonsai pot. All I had to do was cut to the appropriate leader on the larger trunk and trim back the silhouette.

By the way, how big do you think this tree is? I’ll update with the answer tomorrow. (Answer: 3/4″ trunk diameter by 13″ tall.)

And now, all that’s left is to wait till April to see if these trees came through the harvest.