European Hornbeam - 1 year progression

Hi all,

Collected this (and one more) European Hornbeam last February.

This past year I let them establish, no work just growth. I then pruned in late October to begin the primary branches.

Next year I am planning to air player the top half off and start setting the secondary structure.

Let me know what you think!



I like where you headed with it :smiley: are you planning on designing a twin trunk? How did you draw on the last picture?

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Thank you! Planning a kind of twin trunk/mother +Daughter design.

I just used the Photo editor in Google photos on my Pixel phone.

Looks like an excellent beginning to a great tree.

I think you’ll find the tree will start budding a ton of new branches once you cut the top.

Don’t forget to do the root work once the tree is established.

Nice tree!

Thank you!

My plan is to air-layer the top half of the tree this summer (just above the top most branch of the bottom right picture in the 2x2 collage).

Then potentially repot the tree into a box/large nursery pot/training pot next spring.

Following Ryan’s advice on this tree in the last forum Q+A I plan to chop the tree to focus energy (mine and the trees!) on the better quality material.

Question is would you guys cut now before the buds push or wait until I see bud swell to cut knowing the tee is out of dormancy?

Common thought is post flush harden, trunk chop… BUT I could see horticulturally now being a better time, since the Energy hasn’t started to head up to the buds yet. So in theory there could be some energy saved as it reallocates resources between now and bud push. This is “in theory” hopefully someone with evidence of this or the contrary will weight in

That is exactly what I was thinking NE! Thinking trim soon once I see the buds juuuuust starting to swell so I know the tree is no longer dormant but before all that energy has been used on buds that will get cut off.

I think the sooner the better, based on where I am in Zone 7 (not sure where you are). The majority of winter is behind you, make the trunk chop, seal it with putty allow for some room for die back and give the tree time to start reallocating hormones and get its GPS (which way is up) aligned through out first flush. Once the buds start to show that they are swelling the amount of water and sugar moving through the cambium and phloem is already much higher than now. So in theory you would have a greater chances of die back, “bleeding” and wasted energy the closer you wait until bud swell. Again this is just a theory based on the “speaking bonsai” but I think thats the whole point of actually learning the horticulture. Ultimately you should do what you think is right, its your tree and your instincts are important.

Also for what it is worth, I know Ryan talked you out of air layering the top. They do air layer very easily I went 5 for 5 with horn beam last season and bough two tree particularly because i wanted the top part via airlayerl. That was the first year I was willing to buy a $300+ large garden tree and be comfortable relying on my ability to air layer. it was my second season taking air layering seriously first year I was about 50% across all species with about 14 attempts and last year I was 13 for 14 with the one still on a heat bed and will see if it pushes next month.

I shared that because I believe as a “beginner” I am going to need a huge amount of material of improving quality to get as good as i would like and getting that volume required me to slow down learn some propagation technique’s to then go fast! I didn’t have 14 trees “worthy” of airlayering maybe 5 were but I needed the reps as an amateur. There is nothing about this “hobby” that is efficient or mapped to normal timelines so make sure your decision’s set you up to have what you need to achieve your ultimate goal not just the fastest bonsai tree possible (saving a year now over a 10-15 year timeline is < 10% at best. The cost is the additional tree, where the cost was your time (for some this wont be a good use of time) and if that cost is right for you comes with some additional freedom to be creative.

I do agree with Ryan saying what he said because the time and energy you have in finite and you want to concentrate it but he also has 800+ trees and mastery of all the skills, so his perspective is a little different than us who are still learning the skills and need canvas’s to practice on. I am not taking a stance on what you should or shouldn’t do, just thought I would share an additional perspective.

Keep at it either way!


Fair point. I am on the South Coast of England zone 8/9 depending on who you ask!

We’re currently having a very mild winter (Averaging around 9-10c) but expecting a cold snap (down to 0c) soon. Either way from what I have just been reading European Hornbeams barely go dormant over the winter so I think cutting ASAP is best as long as I seal it nicely.

The other thing that has made me go with Ryan’s advice is I have a second Yamadori Hornbeam that I can use as an experiment and focus on the high quality base of this tree.

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Listen I am not saying what Ryan said is wrong, shit I am a paying customer because I think he is undoubtedly one of the best bonsai professionals alive. The intent was to add the perspective of a non so good hobbiest :grinning:

I completely understand, I really appreciate any opinions

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Welp. It’s done. Biggest trunk chop I’ve ever done!

And for a bonus out makeshift pond got a new feature!

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