Here’s a tree I’ve been growing for about four years. I got it from a man who (believe it or not) showed up at one of our Club meetings with 4 of them in the back of his truck. I got two and Mike Rogers got two.
At the time, this man claimed they were Korean hornbeams he had acquired from a landscape nursery in North Carolina and had been working them down since then.
I’m not sure why he was selling them but the price was right and my pocket was full so I got them.
I said I bought two. I have only one left. I learned a lesson on the first one. If the new spring leaves have already broken bud, do not repot it. Yup, killed that one I did.
For the last four years I’ve basically ignored this tree except to topiary trim it. I’ve allowed the tree to gather plenty of sugar reserves and now it’s ready to train.
Last spring I repotted it into the container it’s in now. I probably won’t repot it again until next year.
Here it is in winter nakedness

As with the last hornbeam post (click me! click me!) this will mainly be a wiring exercise.
When I said “he claimed it was a Korean hornbeam” neither Mike or I thought it was.
But since then the trunk has gotten all gnarly and rugged; something our native US hornbeam doesn’t get.

Left side
As you can see, it is very twiggy. This is the perfect time to wire train it.

Right side
The Latin name is Carpinus turczaninowii. Carpinus means “hornbeam” I guess (that’s what the Romans called it). And turzaninowii means it was first classified by the famous Russian botanist Nikolai Turczaninow. You’ve all heard of him, right? I named my fifth boy after him. We call him Czanny for short.
Basically, if, in the Latin name, the second part ends in “ii” it is named after the “discoverer”. Like the Japanese black pine “pinus thunbergii” (some say thunbergiana, but that’s not correct) “discovered” by Carl Peter Thunberg, famous Swedish botanist.

So famous he is often called the Japanese Linnaeus. Thunberg is my hero, I named my peter after him……
Linnaeus, as you all know, was the originator of the binomial nomenclature we use to name plants.

He kinda looks like my friend Billy Rhodes.
Ok…sorry about that digression.
Let us proceed.

Here is the rear. I had considered using this as the front but I love the big uro (Japanese word for “big hole in tree”) on the front.

Strictly speaking, a feature like this on a deciduous tree is very un-Japanese and non traditional. I’m not sure why. In my opinion, these features lend age to the tree.

This is a detail of where the trunk was chopped by that strange man in the truck so many years ago.
One lesson this teaches us is a hornbeam just doesn’t heal well.

Here’s the nebari (Japanese word for “where the roots go into the ground”).
The big ugly root on the right will be removed next year.

It’s not obvious (because its hidden underneath it) but there is a nice root underneath….it.

You may have noticed that there are two branches that have been wired already.
When Frank Heidt made his surprise visit to my club’s workshop last month I had brought this tree in. He immediately was drawn to it and couldn’t keep his hands off it. He wanted to work on the whole thing but I wouldn’t let him.
I let him wire those two though. I’m such a tease.

Check him out on YouTube styling a larch. Here is a highlight video but there are 5 more videos if you want to watch the whole thing.

What’s funny is that I was leery about doing any work on the tree when he was here. I was worried that it would stimulate the tree out of dormancy (which, here in Florida, is easy to do).
And I was right.
Let’s do some evaluation.

One growth habit I’ve noticed with the hornbeam is a bud is almost always at the base of the branch (picture an armpit) Usually I’m always talking about removing the growth in the crotches of the limbs (like a Brazilian wax). Now I have to add armpit growth removal to my spiel.

So one had to go.
And here

two have to go

Here. Why? If you continue to let them grow an ugly knob will form at this point. Disrupting the smooth taper you want, need and desire.

Now it’s time to wire.
My advice on how to achieve proficiency in wiring: wire, wire and keep wiring until your fingers are bleeding.
No matter what you may watch on YouTube or read in a book, it is the actual and real life placing and removing of wire on a branch that will teach you how. Sorry. That’s why, unless I am teaching you in person, I won’t give you too many tips at this point in the demo.


You will notice that on some branches I’ve used wire that will be considered by most to be too large for the branch.
I do this to actually protect the branches when I bend them. To keep them from breaking. It’s a similar mechanism to putting raffia on the branch. It will provide the outside pressure that is required when bending any tube (a branch is basically a tube -think about it) to keep the tube from breaking. (here is a video from Paul Pikel explaining the how and why)

Almost every branch is wired



Right side.
You’ll notice that long branch

That’s a long shoot that needs developing. But I need it to fill a hole as it is. So I’ll point it out later for you.

Here’s the back all arranged.

Left side.

Do you see the branch?
I brought it down and to the right and up and over and… You get the idea.

Basically I was fitting it into the canopy. Eventually it will be cut back for taper and better ramification. This is temporary.
And now the front.

Better than a sharp stick in the eye, right?
I can hear the critics now ” Why did you keep that second trunk on the right?”
Why? Because I think it gives the tree some individuality. It’s a little quirky.
I’ve seen a hundred trees with big trunks and full canopies that had no character. The only thing one could say about them is that they followed the rules. If I cut it off, this tree has nothing to make it stand out. Nothing that will stick in your mind and make you think about it 2 minutes after you’re done reading this (if you haven’t clicked out already, that is).
This is my future vision (by future I mean in a month)

Oh so lush and beautiful! While we’re at it I should repot it (virtually)

It’s a Happy Tree. Looks like its floating. Trippy….
Maybe not that color blue for the pot, though.

One thing I might do upon the next styling is lower the top a bit (top line) or a lot (bottom line). What do you think?
At the moment there aren’t enough branches to fill in the top so there would be a bald spot.

Here’s the before

And the after

With all the wire on this I’ll need to watch this tree closely. It will cut in quick.
And one last thing, I will not fertilize this until the first flush of growth fills in. Otherwise I’ll get long, leggy growth with the internodes (that’s where leaf buds form on deciduous trees) too far apart to be of use. At this point my goal is to control the growth so that I get ramification and not length.
It might be clever to take a long branch and twist it and bend it into the place you need it but its smarter to use the natural growth habit of the tree to achieve the same goal.

8 thoughts

  1. For what it’s worth, I think you should lower the tree to the bottom line. It would make the trunk look stronger and would better feature the hollow (which I think gives the tree character as well).


    1. Funny you should ask, the next post is going to be about it and the stand in building for it, it will be in the Bsf convention exhibit this weekend. It was at the Epcot show last year as well.
      I’ve decided that it isn’t a Korean hornbeam, even though the bark is rough like one.


    1. I’ve not heard of anyone grafting on one and I’d say it probably won’t work as they don’t heal well but you can try.
      I have air layered them before so that is an option


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