Carpinus betulus, critique welcome


I’d be interested in the forum’s views about this European Hornbeam and what you might recommend to continue it’s development.
It was developed from fairly humble stock, and I knew very little when I started developing branches, but I’ve grown to love it nevertheless. That said, there’s plenty of refinement yet to go!

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I like it. It seems a bit disorganized, but as you said you knew little about developing branches when you started.

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Were there root limitations that made you not center it in the pot, or was that an aesthetic decision?

How do you think about the direction of the apex? The tree seems to be flowing to the right and the lower branches seem of similar length. Are you going for a harmonious design or a tension one? If the latter, then the apex coming back to the left makes sense. That would suggest elongating the lower-left branch and making it the defining branch.

Hard to see the quality of the main branches, but the nebari and the flow of the tree seem to argue for a harmonious design, which would mean moving the apex to the right and shortening the lower left branch. I could easily be wrong not seeing the tree in 3D

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@MartyWeiser disorganized is right! From time to time I’ve thought of a radical redesign, but I’d have to knock it back a fair way to do so and I’m not sure I have the heart to. It’s a favourite among friends and family that visit, regardless of what I can see are design issues.
@gmishuris thanks for your insightful comments. Yes the aesymetrical placement in the pot is a design choice, keeping the visual mass centred over the pot. I guess the tree is toying with balance (harmony) through aesymmetry (chaos!) though I’ve never articulated that to my self.
Looking at it with the fresh perspective you offer makes me tempted to lean into the tension between the elements of elegance and disorganisation. Reducing the upper right section of the crown a little and extending the lower left branch and filling out the the silhouette on the right.
I wonder if the aesymetrical planting is slowing down vigour on the right? I rotated the tree c.10° when I repotted it, I’ll see if I can get a new photo today (this photo is prior to repotting).

Here is the new planting angle, I have added a little wire to the lowest branch to extend it out a little more to the left:

…and this morning I used a guy wire to bring one of the branches on the left up to fill that big negative space and to lighten the visually congested area below it. I will add another guy wire on the right later (juggling home schooling our daughters, as UK schools have closed due to covid-19).

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I like the new planting position. However, I find the heavy branch that goes up and to the left near the top to be distracting. It is almost as if it is trying to be a 2nd apex.

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Made a few more minor edits with guy wires:

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Last photo is nice! What is the actual size of the tree?
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  1. Would love to see this in leaf… photo from last summer?
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  2. Post the last photo to the forum for Ryan to see… maybe a top down, too, for 3D.
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  3. Send the tree to me…
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    :wink:
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@KurtP
It’s 60cm tall from the rim of the pot. For the last few years I didn’t find much time to photograph my trees (bonsai care has been secondary to child raising, though I’m finding better balance now that they are more independent) but here it is in full leaf in 2014:

I don’t have pro membership saddly, so I don’t think I can post this for Ryan to see… though I’d be happy for you to share it with him if you’re enthused :wink:
I’m pleased you like it, it’s gratifying that I’m getting some refined looking trees after a decade or so of pottering.

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Beautiful tree. My only minor comment is that the pair of branches about 60% of the way up the tree create a horizontal plane, whereas all the others have more natural movement.

Thanks for sharing with us!

@Brad thanks, yes I see what you mean. I’ll see if I can address it!

@Silva_Naturalis I 100% prefer the new angle after you relaxed the slant a bit. I think it now looks more comfortable/natural and visually suitable for the tree’s style.

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That angle change made a big impact :clap:

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I like what you did here, nice job! I feel that the new design is much more cohesive

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