Last March on a local club night we made small group plantings from various deciduous bare rooted hedge material. On the night i used 9 european beech trees, and after getting home decided to repot it with some extra trees left over from the hedge we planted at the front of the house - this ended up as 23 trees in a large oval inspired by the real hill top forest down the road.
I think we all tend to be self critical and each time i looked at the group the fact they all had exactly the same thickness trunks meant I was never very happy with it - and the pot was too big for such little trees. By mid summer I knew the group needed a complete overhall so a few days while walking the dog managed to add 7 tiny seedlings to the stock of trees, then a hunt in the 50% discount area of my local bonsai nursery added a plastic box with 3 larger trees that had been rough pruned for a few years so they had some taper and plenty of branches to chose from.
Next thing was to make a pot for the group so a sheet of wire was cut to shape, a few re-inforcing metal rods were put through and floor tile cement was mixed to a wet consistancy and poured into the mesh. As it set a bit of texture was worked into it with a trowel and the drain holes were put in.
24 hours later it was set hard so small holes for wire were drilled all over and 1mm copper wire threaded through. A few hours were spent bare rooting the trees, cutting the tops and roots back and assembling the forest. The 3 main trees wers placed first, then the tiny trees, followed by the medium ones. The shape of the slab was designed to suggest a path running deep into the forest so the foreground has used the large trees and the tiny trees were at the back, giving perspective and a feeling of depth.
Moss completes the scene for now and everything will be left until bud break before starting the pruning, directing the branches so they work together rather than becoming a tangled mess.
Tree source - wild seedlings, Dutchy of Cornwall Nursery, St Mawgan Bonsai Nursery
European Beech, Fagus sylvatica, common beech
Pot - resin cement - 30" wide
I threw the tree on the mercy of the ibc forum and had some excelent suggestions of ways to further improve the planting - so a larger slab is in the pipeline and a tweak to the trees on the right is planned. - Thanks go to Robert for the skilled observations