This tipsy planting in its curvy slab has to be one of the most distinctive deciduous forest bonsai anywhere. Like all the trees in this post it's a Japanese beech (Fagus crenata), a species prized for its brilliant white bark.
Japanese beech, with their striking white bark and strong trunks (often with excellent nebari) are a favorite of bonsai artists, especially in Japan. Unfortunately, they aren’t that easy to find here in North America and our native beech (Fagus grandifolia) is too rangy and large-leafed to make for very good bonsai (the European beech, Fagus sylvatica, which you can find here, is a much better bet). All the trees in this post are Japanese beech and all the photos are from back issues of Bonsai Today magazine *
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Copper colored fall leaves are another reason to like Japanese beech. A strong, well-tapered trunk doesn't hurt either. When this photo was taken this tree belonged to Sinichi Watanabe.
Beech (and other deciduous trees) are appreciated for their bare-boned winter look, when you can see the whole trunk and all the branches all the way out to the finest twigs.
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A strange tree with its lumpy base and willy-nilly trunks/branches (and very unusual background color) is the kind of tree you might consign to the 'later' pile, or even the 'never' pile. Fortunately, some sharp-eyed person saw something worth saving.
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Good ramification is essential if you want quality deciduous bonsai. Beeches have somewhat heavy-tipped branches, so you don't see the amazingly detailed fine branching you see on some other deciduous trees. Still, this one is pretty impressive.
*Kindai Bonsai owns the original rights to all the Japanese photos in Bonsai Today. Bonsai Focus now owns the rights for reprinting in the West
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