Its funny how a day at the British shohin exhibition at Willowbog this month spent looking at a hundred or so little dinky trees lead to the purchase of the largest material I've bought to date ! The material that caught my eye was an old imported Japanese white beech group a meter tall and a meter wide.
The tree was imported about 10 years ago and to be fair has been caught out a few times by the late hard frosts that can occur in Northumbria, and I suspect when it was imported it didnt have a very healthy root system. This combination had lead to a few entire trunks dying off so the material had a very fair price tag to reflect this, so the tree booked a seat back to Cornwall to see if the milder weather down here would be more to its liking.
We wrapped the pot very tightly in clingfilm to keep the soil in place as it had to be layed on its side to fit in the car, and I bound the longer branches upwards so they layed flat and didnt snap off. Once unwrapped i gave the tree a misting off and took the first pictures.
The first job was to pluck off all the old leaves to see the branch structure and then study the live trunks to find the better angles. I planned to cut out the dead trunks and try to seperate some sections of the planting to re-design the group. The trees would be totally impossible to seperate individually as many roots were fused together and the trunk bases were moulded into each other in places, but I could see a way of sawing the mass into 2 or hopefully 3 pieces.
Here is the group cleaned of old leaves, but with the dead trunks still in place
And with the dead trunks removed - now we can see what there is to work with
Out came the saw and the group was sectioned up into three bits so the dead roots and trunk bases could be removed. This let me rotate the main tree 90 degrees to show the root flare and trunk base much better. I seperated two of the smaller trees with as many roots as possible as they were in the wrong places.
This was the first replant of the sections and I'm happy with all bar one trunk, which needs moving back
Now I let the tree rest for a few weeks, treating the soil with canna rizotonic to promote root health and growth. Then we will use guy wires to lower the main branches, try to strike some hard wood cuttings from the extensions and wail for the leaves to open.