A Gardening Journal

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Gold-leaved Weeping Beech on the Way Up

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With stunning gold foliage Spring into Summer, and a reserved weeping habit, this beech is not just unique among beeches.  It's unique among deciduous trees. Of course, I had to have it—or, rather, them: I have a pair, and I've planted them right alongside my carriage house.

 

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For the next twenty years or so, we'll all be in training, my gold-leaved weeping beeches and I. Although mature beech wood is famously stiff, young growth is almost scarily delicate and flexible.

 

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This is the first Spring the trees are established enough to grow strongly. I've repositioned the topmost of their thread-thin stems so that they point upwards, tying them loosely to a supporting pole. I had planted honeysuckle on the pole years before, and the angles of its twining stems are additional convenient supports. As the beeches establish themselves higher and higher, I'll restrict the honeysuckle to the upper "unbeeched" portions of the poles.

 

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The trees are young and, therefore, small: With their top stems "verticalized," they are suddenly 40% taller.  

 

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Thank goodness: Even with such gentle and dedicated training, it will take many years for Fagus sylvatica 'Aurea Pendula' to grow all the way up the supports to the eaves of the carriage house. In a few years, I'll need to bring over the stepladder. Five or ten years after that, the extension ladder.

 

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As the tops of the trees are trained higher and higher, side branches will still be growing free-range: downward. The result will be an ever-heightening cascade of thrilling gold foliage in Spring and early Summer, green foliage Summer into Fall and, all Winter, a startling display of rigid, narrowly-weeping beech limbs.

 

In twenty years, I'll be (gulp) eighty. By then, the beeches should be roof-high, and it will be time to remove the honeysuckle entirely. Training these beeches—you can just see the smaller one at the right of the stone with a plaque listing our house's antecedent owners—will be one of the more eccentric projects of most of the rest of my life.

 

Stay tuned for the updates.

 

Here's how to grow gold-leaved weeping beech.

 
 
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