Korean hornbeam can grow dense with little effort. To encourage interior shoots, I need to thin the foliage. I do this by cutting new shoots back to 2-4 leaves and completely removing extraneous shoots from overly dense areas.
Korean hornbeam – July, 2011
After removing the unnecessary leaves, I decided to lower a few of the branches. I remembered that the branches on the right side of the tree pointed upward a bit more than the branches on the left. You can see this more clearly without the leaves.
January, 2011 – note upward pointing branches on the right
To make these branches better match the angles of the other branches, I used several guy wires. There are a number of ways to set up guy wires. For this tree, I stuck to a simple set-up. First step – cutting two short lengths of aquarium tubing.
To create an opening for the wire, I cut a slot in one of the tubes by bending it and taking a small slice from the top.
Creating an opening for the wire
This will be used for the top branch – the one to be lowered. I slip the bottom section of tubing into place as is.
Guy wire with tubing
After slipping the first section of tubing onto the wire, I place the tubing below the anchor branch and feed the ends of the wire through the openings in the tubing with the slot. I decided against shooting the set-up in place as there were too many branches in the tree’s interior to tell how things are connected. Here’s the basic set-up.
Guy wire set-up
After wrapping the wire with tubing around the anchor branch and the branch to be lowered, I twist the wire with my fingers to hold it in place. I then lower the branch with one hand, and use pliers to take up the slack in the wire with the other.
Guy wire detail
Hornbeam – after thinning and adding guy wires
Why not simply wire the branches that need to be lowered? One thin guy wire does the same work as a very heavy wire wrapped around the branch. The process is simple and uses less total wire.
Why use plastic tubing? The tubing slows the rate at which the wire cuts into the bark and it protects the bark from injury and discoloration.
I don’t know if the branches will set before the leaves fall off this autumn. If not, I’ll leave them in place – or remove and replace them – when I work on the tree this winter.
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Jonas, I learned a nice trick from Kathy Shaner – she cuts through the tubing about three quarters through. When I asked her why she said it reduces the pressure on the top of the branch and distributes it better over the top and sides.
Thanks Rusty – that’s a good trick!
I love korean hornbeams. I haven’t seen many of them here in australia and certainly none like this. I have just styled 2 and will find this invaluable for next years potting and pruning remembering our seasons are the reverse of yours. Thanks, great post as always.