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Developing a Small Hormbeam Clump Forest


I saw a picture not long ago of a beautiful Japanese Hornbeam Forest. All the roots had grown together to form a clump. This got my interest up so I decide to try and make my own. You can see from the pics, I started with nine small Japanese Hormbeams and tried my best to get them as close together as possible. I did not want to trim to roots back to harshly as it is late June and really not the best time to be doing this. The trees varied in girth and height. I am fortunate to have a very good supplier of pre-bonsai stock nearby. Enjoy...and yes, the wiring does cross but I might cut that front limb anyway.


There seems to be a decent variation in trunks.  I guess now the work on ramification begins.  I like to see forests where the branching/canopy doesn't allow you to see so far UP each trunk ...but I'm sure that comes with time.  Looks like one or two of the trees could be cut back even further.

Hey Dan,  Congrats, you have put together a reasonably nice forest planting here but I am afraid it may never be what I think you want it to be from your opening paragraph...a root-connected clump.  Planted the way these are and already in a shallow container, you and I will be long gone before these ever become a clump.  If the current arrangement pleases you then you are good to go. If you are interested in redesigning in more of a clump style read on for few suggestions that may help.

If you really want something clump style...root connected I think you should redo this composition in the Spring.  It is going to be essential that you get the bases of the trunks much much closer together than they currently are.  If this were mine and my goal was a clump, I would begin by putting together several small groups...2 and 3s...that work well together.  I will sometimes try to use trees with similar shapes to create each group...of course ideally all of the trees will have similar character..but certainly use trees of different heights and trunk diameters in each group.  Leave 1 or 2 small trees available.  You will have to be ruthless with the roots to get the trunks as close as I am suggesting and in a harmonious placement...the trunks in the small clumps should touch or nearly touch.  Then work on arranging your small groups.  Again, they will need to be very close, nearly touching. Don't be afraid to try many different arrangements...once the trees have grown together the arrangement will be difficult to until you are happy even if it means starting over from scratch. Use the small single trees to finish out the composition.  I will often temp. wrap the roots in wet sphagnum moss to avoid drying out during the arrangement.

Creating forest and group planting are one of things I enjoy most in this hobby.  I would be more than happy to help with this one if you decide to redesign it in the future...If you would like a reference speak to Randy:)

I hope this helps!

Lets roll. It being July I did not want to massacure the root system. Come early spring, I really want to cut the roots back really strong and push the roots bases as close as possble to form a clump

I learned something really neat with Dana Quattlebaum this weekend. On a much large single specimum Japanes Red Maple with GREAT nebari, he suggested taking a small chisel and score a 1/4" cut along both sides of the exposed roots. Pack the with rooting hormone and cover with spagnham moss. Do this to each root one at a time and he said within a matter of a couple of years it would fill in between the roots and form a single 12 root base and probably be worth somewhere in the $5k range.

Way to much responsiblity for me but I am willing to give it a chance with a help partner. Each root is going have to be done one at a time and covered to keep it from drying out in the heat.

I acquired the tree through a trade. It is a twin Trunk Japanese Red Maple. Dana said it was a really nice tree and a sigificant find even his book. Do you want o help create a potential materpiece? The tree is about 36" high, 4" diameter and originally had three trunks. We took out the middle trunk becasue it has no taper and keep the outside third trunk and made a Father/Son twin truck maple.

P.S I was wondering if it would be simpler to use a Dremel tool to score the cut rather than a chiesel. As long as the cambium layer is cut and exposed, it seems you would have alot more control with a dremel. Any thoughts.




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