• Andrew Robson

European Beech

This stout fellow is the king of my collection. Although the photo is a bit deceiving, this massive European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is nearly 5-feet tall. It's so large that it pushes the limits of bonsai... making quite a statement for those standing in its presence. And although I love the presence that this beast has, my favorite thing about it is the feeling one gets when looking at it... it looks like a real tree, having a very natural, organic branch structure.

I've owned this beech for about a year now, and since purchasing the tree I did some significant pruning, scar treatment, and a repotting into this modern Chinese pot. Because the dimensions needed for a container were so large, a glazed pot wasn't an available option, so I settled for this unglazed container for the time being. I'm still hopeful that one day I'll come across a nice blue or cream pot for this beech.

Although this tree has good bones, there is much more refinement work that needs to be done. In future years I'll work towards creating more density in the lower 2/3 of the tree, especially on the left side... and while the tree has a nice overall shape, the development of more interior branching will really balance out the design. This work involves many years of pinching and partial defoliation of the strong exterior shoots and leaves, while leaving the interior twigs alone to grow and gain strength. It's slow, patient work, which is why we don't see many good deciduous trees floating around the bonsai circles. I hope to help change that, especially with this beech!

I've been honored having this tree on display at the world-famous Portland Japanese Garden, where it has greeted nearly 400,000 visitors since the grand opening of the Cultural Village last April. Below are few shots from it's first year at the garden!

The Japanese Garden's superb background of old Douglas-fir, which makes the bark on this beech pop in the winter

Beech buds patiently waiting to open, with Kengo Kuma's stellar design in the background

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