Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Purple Beech (Fagus Sylvatica Purpurea)

Well here it is… my first post. I thought I’d kick off with my Purple Beech project. (Fagus Sylvatica Purpurea) It was bought in mid summer 2013 and I was attracted by the fine trunk and nebari.

At the time I found it I’d looked through over 250 trees in a local nursery for something to start out with, and this was the only tree I saw which I thought exhibited attractive features I could expand on.

At 13’ tall it was a big decision to buy and then chop it down (with no practical experience whatsoever) but I decided the nebari was too good to pass up on and handed over the money.
The first issue, of course, was how to get it home, so I asked to nursery manager to get his saw out. We chopped it to a height which would enable it to fit in my car and after a bemused conversation I lifted the 90L bucket and brought it back

So I have this great root spread, some basic knowledge (from online resources) of Beech growth habits and a basic plan of where to go with it.

The first task would be to chop the trunk to the preferred height and select a new leader. I'm aiming to style this in field tree image in the long term so my visible chop will be approx. 1/3rd of the height of the final image

I took advice from an experienced grower and went for twin leaders, chopping an inch or 2 above to allow for dieback

As you can see I initially created a wire guy to force growth upwards, but I found this unreliable. I then opted for a horizontal tourniquet with wire and aquarium tubing which help both leaders more upright…

22 days later….

In only 5 weeks the foliage mass had doubled and it was very happy. On closer inspection however, I noticed that the leaders were expanding in width at a ferocious rate and had already choked themselves on my guy wire

I also was advised at that time that rather than wait any longer, I should work the chop site into a useable image to allow for callousing – many estimates were that it would take years(if ever) to heal over….

Ordered some carving tools and borrowed a dremel with a Kaizen Bonsai bit and got to work…

First marked out the area to reduce and stripped back bark to deadwood, vowing not to go below this line.

Then worked it down allowing for the bulge of new growth of the leaders in the future - hoping it won't be too far out but at this stage it's purely an informed guess

I tried my best to make the cuts as hidden as possible from the front – and was pretty pleased with the result...apart from the branch removal sites on the front. When I first chopped the tree I had used a horrible would sealant.(By Bayer - NEVER USE IT)

 I had to sort the crap out from that wound sealant now, to give it a few years to recover - you can see from photos there was a thin plastic film all over the bark and it had set rock hard.

chipped and sanded it back as gently as possible, and then carved out a dip in the deadwood

 edged it sharply for better/faster callous

 then set about making the leaders point upwards without scoring the bark again....

I wanted to find something thicker to protect the branch/bark from wire. While I was thinking I tripped over my garden hose and had a brainwave...

thick gauge wire + aquarium tubing

Tidied up the wounds and used far less sealant this time to allow for better healing:

...And it still kept growing like crazy! At this rate the new wire tourniquets would be too tight in less than a couple of weeks…

So I had another brainwave. Cable ties.

These things are so much better. The branch can now grow and expand at it's own rate without fear of being garrotted. The fatter it gets the more upright it will grow too. The lower tie also supports the part of the branch which had started to kink due to the strain offering better overall support and the width of them means far less chance of bark scars. I can pretty much leave these on and forget about them for a while - Not pretty but the health of the branch is far more important at this stage

All in all I'm gobsmacked at the rate this thing is growing. It's well documented that Beech are slow growers - however in my experience this is one of the faster growing trees in my care. The leaders are over 4 times thicker than when they started.

My next dilemmas are:

1) It needs a repot. Whether or not to transfer this to the ground in spring, so that I can start root pruning, or to leave it in the pot to develop the leaders to a point where I can start to prune back before moving it out is tricky....

2) What to do about that plasticky smear of the old Beyer would sealant. It has permeated the bark and won't just fade, leaving a big ring around the existing prune sites on the trunk..... I'm thinking of trying a small sandpaper on an inconspicuous are to see what'll happen

Thanks for reading, any comments will be gratefully received!

1 comment:

  1. That's some good growth there in a very short time. My advice on your two issues;

    1). Leave the tree in the pot it is in as it seems big enough to give it plenty of room for growth (although if you have space then in the ground will work even better). I would however lift it in spring either way and work the roots as otherwise you run the risk of bad tangled roots etc which could ruin the nebari and give you a lot of grief, not to mention detrimental to the health of the tree. At this point you can also get it into some decent soil as, I assume, it is field grown and thus the soil round the main rootball is likely not the best for oxygen or water transfer.

    2). I would not worry about it at all at this time. Given some time the bark will grow out and this should hopefully fade/disappear.

    I shall be keeping an eye on this blog and the progress of this, and your other trees :-)