Common Elm – could also be a Wych Elm mame.
This tree was grown from a seedling collected in 2003. It was planted out in open ground in my garden and potted up into a bonsai pot in 2005. Unusually for elm, the foliage grew only in the top 1/4 of the tree and it never back budded at all. The trunk was largely straight and singularly without character.
In 2006 I took the decision to make the most of a bad situation and perform a trunk chop. The chop was made using a V shape, based on what I was reading on “BonsaiTalk”.
I left the tree in the same (oversized) pot until February 2009 when I potted it down into a smaller pot. I took the opportunity to reduce the number of roots and to wire the remaining roots evenly around the trunk.
This was repotted again in Feb 2010 into an even smaller pot.
Until now this tree has never been wired – only clip and grown. I am considering wiring it at this point to bring some of the branches below horizontal.
by Craig Coussins
How to develop twig structure
Introduction; One of the most important lessons in developing Bonsai is the one involving branch and twig structure.
The health of the tree depends on your ability to create more and more twigs which of course hold the leaves that allow the tree to breathe.
The physiological advantages of more twigs and branches mean that more and more fine root development takes place and the tree has a solid base to stand on. Roots also help define twigs.
The artistic value of a tree with plenty of fine twigs, buds, branches and roots advertises your ability as a Bonsai grower or in slightly less grand terms, as a grower of miniature trees.
Beginners or less experienced growers are concerned in the first year with either accumulation of material or accumulation of knowledge. The former gets themselves into a situation where they have too many trees and subsequently few if any of these trees gets individual attention. The natural progression of this hobbyist is then to spend loadsamoney on imported stock which at least looks something like a Bonsai because they have hundreds of other things in pots, so called ‘Potensai’, which will never become Bonsai because they do not have time to look after and turn all that ‘stuff’, into Bonsai.
The intelligent enthusiast tries to maintain a small selection of trees of around 10 to 15 that allows them to try out different techniques read in books written by experienced Bonsai growers.
On a philosophical level the appearance of a finely twigged deciduous Bonsai or a dense pine gives you a feeling of peace. Bonsai arose from the art of meditation and as we all soon come to realise when attending our Bonsai; time quickly passes when your working on these little trees.
The thing about elms is that they are both easy to grow and easy to screw up. The aim is to get very fine detail in the ramification, twig structure. To do that you have, perhaps, three ways to go.
The first is to go down the step by step method and grow in the pot like this small one and nip of the growth above a new bud every now and then. It’s a slower process that the other methods. The upper sections will of course grow but what we really need is speed.
That’s where the ‘other methods’ comes into play. The most popular one is to remove the tree from this smaller pot and get that into a large container or at least, a bigger pot. This allows the roots to spread and develop which, in turn, allows the top growth to grow faster. I still prefer the large pot method (most times) . The reason being is that once in a small pot the growth, pretty much, has to slow down.
by Min Hsuan Lo
Below is my personal idea.
Normally , Elm is very popular in South China, Japan & Taiwan. Almost Taiwan bonsai master should be pass the challenge of elm. It’s pay a lot of time to style & Maintain. Elm & Jelkova Serratea are pretty close, probably both of them could be identify the most boring bonsai , for the reason too much time to remove leaves, chose buds, wire……
The Character of Jelkova Serratea is smoothly 45 degree toward up to the sky, It’s looks elegant! Elm’s branch is usually by the technical of ” Cut & Grow” , the amount of Z-Line make Elm more powerful. Indeed, the outline & branch detail of both are totally different. Every Specimen have his own soul, it would be better to represent the unique gesture of mother nature.
Two Choice to improve
#1: Follow the original idea, Just increase twigs and some roots. However this is more like Jelkova Serratea , not elm!
#2: Cut off right & front branch , cut short left branch and all twigs. Plant in huge training pot. Be a inform upright ideal Elm style, after some years.
Do you want your bonsai tree critiqued? Submit your photo to the ofBonsai Magazine Flickr Group.
About the Critiquers
Craig Coussins started Bonsai in 1974 and shortly after met with a UK bonsai master in 1976 with whom he studied for many years. Craig met John Naka in 1984 and then went to visit John a number of times in America. Craig has now written five best selling Bonsai Books and all have been very popular in many languages. These can be found on Amazon. Search Craig Coussins.
Craig teaches Bonsai less these days. He works mainly in America.
His friend Bonsai Master Peter Foele who was Danny Uses (Ginkgo) assistant for many years and now lives in the UK maintains Craig’s collection.
Craig has Bonsai in all sizes from a few inches to over two metres but his favourite size is now Shohin.95% of Craig’s Bonsai are developed from collected yamadori, nursery stock or cuttings.
Craigs Bonsai website is www.bonsaiinformation.com and is also on Facebook where he has over 1800 Bonsai friends who appreciate his photographs.He is also a keen Suiseki enthusiast collecting stones for over 40 years.
Craig’s business is now selling and the restoration of antique Japanese scrolls and is at www.tokonomascrolls.com which means that he often goes to Japan for his work and also visits his many Bonsai friends when he is there.
Min Hsuan Lo
Min Hsuan Lo received the grand prize of the JAL World Bonsai Contest in 1999 and he has won several other honors since. He was one of the headliners at BCI 2004 in Taiwan and has traveled to Malaysia, the Philippines, South Africa, India, and U.S.A. He looks forward to more trips abroad to share his knowledge and to also learn more about bonsai in other countries.
LO was born in 1956 in Central Bonsai Garden. The family bonsai nursery was built by his father in 1947. As a child LO was at his father’s side learning the art of bonsai. After graduating from the University of TAM KANG in Taiwan where he studied Chinese Literature, LO returned home to learn more about bonsai, not only from his father but also from every master in Taiwan.
He began teaching bonsai in Taiwan in 1992. In 2001 he started bonsai in Ken Kuo Technical University and in 2004, he become the bonsai teacher at Pei Tou Community University.
Min Hsuan Lo’s personal blog can be seen at http://min-hsuan-lo.ofbonsai.org