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White beech refinement

Leaves of white beech

Japanese white beech (Fagus crenata) is different from the European beech in that it has smaller, narrower, and more pointed leaves. The trunk is a very light silver in colour and gives a very pleasing effect. The leaves turn a russet brown colour, and remain on the tree until the Spring when the new shoots extend.


On the right we can see a Japanese white beech in early May. The new leaves have just started to harden off and it needs to be trimmed at this time to keep the shape of the tree and to show off the trunk.

To form the fine branch structure it is necessary to cut back to 2 or three leaves, and photos of this can be seen below.

A white beech before trimming has started
A branch with 5 leaves.The top two leaves being cut off with scissorsNow only two leaves remain

In this case we are going to cut off the two top leaves leaving only the lower three. This is done usng a fine pair of very sharp scissors. The leaf stalk, or petiole, is left as it serves to nourish the tree and prevents damage to the remaining leaves as it naturally dries up.

Front view of the tree after trimmingBack view of the tree after trimming
The two photos above show the front and back view of the tree after it has been trimmed. It will be seen that the top of the tree has been shaped and besides cutting back to two leaves some leaves which are facing the wrong way are completely removed.
It was also necessary to wire down some of the lower branches to improve the shape of the tree, and to show off the trunk as it was hidden by the leaves.
Wiring. The bark of Fagus Crenata branches mark particularly easily when wired.  Once a branch is marked by the wire then the marks will remain for the life of the tree. For this reason it is better not to wire the tree in the conventional way. 
If wiring has to be done, one technique that may be used to protect the bark is to wrap the wire in raffia first, but this can be quite time consuming. You can also use tissue paper wrapped around the wire itself.
Alternatively, where branches that are rising up need to be "pulled down" (as with the tree illustrated) this can be achieved using guy wires looped over the branch The bark is protected from the wire by threading it through a short length of plastic tubing such as aquarium air hose. The branch can then be eased down to the desired position and the end of the guy wire secured to a link in a stainless steel chain which has be secured just under the rim of the pot.  Wire can be used as an alternative to the chain.
This method enables guy wires to be located in many different locations to suit the location of the branches that are being trained.  In cases where only a couple of branches need to be adjusted, guy wires can be passed through the potting media and pot drainage hole and secured under the pot.  However this can be a bit fiddly to achieve unless it is carried out during the re-potting process.
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