Late yesterday afternoon, while we were finishing up the eight small size Trident maple forests, Diane and Dave Steele went to a local garden center to check out some Japanese red pines. The shapes were so poor Diane did not even bother to send me photos. However, she spotted two Sandrobe dwarf European beech with interesting shapes. She sent me a photo of the best specimen and said it was very good. Initially I was not impressed and suggested she leave it right there. Again, she repeated that it was very good, so I told here to go ahead and buy it. She does NOT need my permission to buy plants. After seeing how this tree was shaped, Dave returned to the nursery after class this afternoon to purchase the other specimen.
I could not believe my eyes when she showed me the Sandrobe dwarf European beech! It was fantastic! All the students in my classes also liked the tree. So with the assistance of four students, while I was teaching they looked at the tree after I removed the leaves, and later in the day helped trim, wire an shape the tree. They even brought me five possible containers and helped pot the tree as well. The leaves are small and neat, uniform on the tree. Also the twigs were thin and buds were tiny; even smaller and more slender than Japanese beech. All of last year’s foliage remained on the tree during the winter indicating the tree was strong and vigorous. The structure was truly amazing and also had a good lower trunk and surface root display. After studying the tree, two different styles were obvious, an upright and slanting. The best root display was if it was trained in the informal upright style. However, I have several upright beech and decided on the slanting style which is a bit unusual for beech. It is similar in form as the European beech bonsai I’ve seen in Europe where they are native and collected.
The slanting style beech bonsai was rather easy to shape. More time was actually spent considering which form to use for the future bonsai. After shaping and studying the roots I was not comfortable root pruning the beech to fit it in a more shallow container and could place it in the ideal position. That can be addressed in the future when the secondary wiring and refinement are to be addressed. Please note that the final form for today was only the initial shaping. The first photo here is a virtual composition on how I expect the tree to develop, should no one purchase the tree in the next few years. It is now planted in a vintage Chinese container with a stone accent to fill in a vacant space next to the base of the trunk.
Dave Steele went back to the nursery to get the remaining beech before another student bought it.