A couple Japanese Beeches

I bought 3 1-gallon can J Beech (Fagus crenata) from Evergreen Gardenworks in December 2017:

I didn’t quite get around to working on them in 2018. The going-in plans were either a 3-tree composition, or a triple trunk.

One never woke up in the spring, and so I decided to wait to see what the other two would do before I tried to combine them at all. So they sat one more year in the gallon cans until I got to them in the spring of 2019.

The roots looked pretty rough after another year in those cans.

I had also lost the top half of one. Can you spot the dieback?

How about now?

Cut back to living tissue…

So what to do with a tree that has layered itself? I had to ditch the initial plan of a decent-sized mica pot and accept any real development would need to be put off for at least a year while the roots recover. I didn’t think cutting them off would be wise, so I applied a wire to girdle the bottom section. Hopefully that will stem the tide.

Then, I combined them as planned, but in a much deeper container.

And with a little luck they’ll recover…

Fast-forward another year to March 2020, and here we are.

A little wiring to spread out the branches…

And on to the repot.

Good enough. Potted low in the pot for now:

And we’re set for another year:

Sumo Shohin trident winter work

Late Winter, in advance of repotting it into a smaller container, I wanted to get a little maintenance work completed. The cut at the back of the tree is not healing well, and needs to be cleaned up every year or two. I have had lots of requests to see the back of the tree. Usually the conversation goes like this, “how’s the back of this one look?” To which I respond, “Like I chose the right front.” And move on. Well, you asked…

Each year or two, I clean up the wound, repack it, seal it and let it continue. Several years ago, I cleaned out the rot, which has resulted in a hollow trunk through to the bottom, and filed it with a concrete-based wood filler. I applied cut paste over that and hoped for the best. The wood filler traps water though, and ultimately did not prove to be the best product for the job.

The work done:

Remove old cut paste

Carve away rotted wood

Remove the loose wood filler

Clean up the callus on the right side where it is healing

Expose the cambium around the cut

Another view:

Since the wood filler attempt, I have found epoxy putty works better as a filler for large hollows. It is long-lasting, smooth (for callus formation) and not pervious.

Epoxy putty applied:

Then covered the whole thing in cut paste.

That part of the work is complete for the year. When it is repotted in March, I’ll address the hollow from the underside too.

Last year, this tree was infested with scale. I didn’t think anything of the white eggs that covered the trunk in March, and hadn’t seen anything like it to indicate a problem. But by April, this tree was covered in large scale insects. In February this year, I noticed a few those eggs on the trunk again..

See them? How about now…

Yesterday I hit all trees with dormant oil spray. Tonight after cleaning up the wound in the back of the tree, I rubbed alcohol on the eggs too.

Late winter haircut for the Hawthorn

Happy Leap Day! The density of this tree is steadily improving, but the middle right side is a little behind…still…5 full years after removing a few main branches in that area. I guess if I was really trying to fix it, I’d put the thing in a big wood box, but I don’t want to destroy the what ramification is present on the rest of the tree. So we plod along.

Here is the tree in winter, before any pruning.

I started by removing heavy branches in dense areas, reducing whorls to pairs, and shortening long runners to outward-facing buds. Here is an example, before:


A root at the front died a few years ago, and I carved it down a little to more closely approximate the original trunk chop.


A close-up of the original trunk chop. It is showing some age. I particularly like the back left portion.

I placed a thread graft 3 years ago, through the tallest trunk, to fill in that bald spot on the right side. It is growing but really not thickening. It will remain attached until I’m confident it has taken.

Before and after side by side shows some pruning results and a little light wiring on the right side.

This dark shot shows the branching nicely. The strength is evened out, and branches show better, more consistent taper throughout. Still a long way to to finish out the middle right area, but directionally correct.

And, shots almost exactly 5 years apart, late January 2015 and early February 2020:

From the old photo, it is clear I have let the tree grow a bit narrower and taller over the last few years, and I think I’d like to let the lower canopy broaden again.

I may also skip repotting this year, or find a slightly deeper pot to slip-pot it into and see if that will encourage some stronger growth.