Creating A Beech Forest Bonsai

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


Beech are highly prized for bonsai because of their characteristic white bark, beautiful foliage, winter hardiness and easy training. There are several beech species native to Japan. The Japanese beech, Fagus crenata is the most commonly trained species for bonsai in Japan. Specimens near Mt. Fuji are especially valued because of their small thick foliage. The American beech, Fagus grandifolia, has rather large thin foliage and often collected specimens are grown for bonsai. The European beech, Fagus sylvatica, is trained for bonsai in Europe and spectacular bonsai are created from thick trunked collected trees.

In the United States European beech, and its numerous cultivars are commonly used in the landscape for different colored foliage or unusual growth patterns. These cultivars are usually grafted onto seedlings of European beech, so they are a widely grown nursery stock.

The normal leaf size of European beech is a bit larger than Japanese beech…

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Early Spring cutback

On the 8th Feb 2017 I decided to cut this back hard to build a better branch structure, I also cut the first right branch back to some buds that had developed as the branch had a lot of wood rot so will used these buds to re grow the branch:


Then on the 19th March 2017 I decided to dig into the mat of roots to see what was in there. I did half this year, then half next year:


JBP Candle-cutting

Nebari Bonsai

I like to update this one every summer and every winter (if I can get to it). Remember, candle-cutting JBP with 100 days left in the growing season produces a second flush of growth, with more buds (ramification), and shorter needles, due to the shortened growing season.

July 10, before

Starting at the top, remove this season’s candles:

Middle section complete; leaving longer stubs on the stronger shoots. Look at these like fuses on a firecracker, the longer the fuse, the takes to go!

All of this year’s candles removed:

Pruned heavy areas, and thinned the needles down to 10 or so pairs of needles per shoot.

Want to see how this tree got from a nursery can to antique Chinese container in 10 years, in a flip-book format, with step-by step, cause-effect photos? Check out the book:Developing Japanese Black Pine Bonsai…by yours truly.



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Incredible Nebari

Sam & KJ's Suiseki Blog (水石)

If you have been in bonsai for very long you quickly learn that having good nebari (root structure) adds significantly to the aesthetic and monetary value of your tree.   But to be direct, in the US we don’t see that many trees with what we would classify as outstanding or incredible nebari.  It takes work – and more work – and then some time.

In 2008 we visited a individual (not to be named at his request) outside of Tokyo that was growing Japanese maples that made our jaw drop.  Let me show you the first of a few.

Japanese Maple

A nicely formed tree with the beginning of excellent ramification but with outstanding nebari.  Just look at this closeup.

Nebari on a Japanese Maple

The owner of this tree indicated that when he repots his maples he takes about three days to do it.  Why you might ask? He indicated that he very slowly combs out…

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