Siberian Elm #1
Posts: Siberian Elm
Siberian Elm #1
Posts: Siberian Elm
This is my favorite little tree I have at the moment. I’ve been excited for this repot as it’ll finally put the tree into a pot that is correctly sized. The constricted environment that it will provide will increase ramification and give it a smaller leaf size.
Started by cutting the wires on the bottom in the middle, then making a flush cut to make sure they aren’t jagged when I drag them through the root mass.
This little guy grew pretty vigorously for 1 year after a repot.
Raked out the roots to see what I really had to work with.
I put some soil in and tried to get a better idea of what would fit in the pot.
I prepped the pot with the drain screen and wire ready to take in the tree.
I’m going to cut the two wires at an angle and fish them through the main portion of the roots or the ‘shin’ of the tree. You then bend them over once they’re through the shin and use that as a means to anchor the tree down.
As you can see here, the wires become buried and hidden in the rootball.
I then piled up the Akadama and chopsticked it in.
I used Akadama as I can use this to be able to scale the roots and branches to get them finer and finer. For a deciduous tree in refinement this is how you can get the most fine ramification.
Then the topdressing. This is to help keep the moisture even throughout the Akadama and help with moisture loss on the top portion of the soil.
From the top down. Obviously it is going to get some pruning before the Spring comes in.
It made it through one night of sub 32° weather that I missed, but has leafed out without too many issues.
I went to Bonsai-A-Thon at The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens. Here were the trees on display for the exhibition.
Japanese Black Pine
Coast Live Oak
Japanese Black Pine, Silverberry (Eleagnus Pungens), Chinese Elm, Korean Hornbeam, Japanese Quince
Satsuki Azalea (on the left)
The amount of trees was a bit less than I expected, but they were all great regardless. The flowering plum, coast live oak, and the large shimpaku juniper were my favorites. The oak didn’t have any large scaring that was unsightly, it was amazing.
As James R. Barrett states in You Be The Judge: “Whether we like it or not, all Bonsai are judged – if not by an official judge, at least by the viewer.” While I am by no means an official judge, I am a viewer. I judge trees to help myself dissect what it is that I appreciate about trees, and to share the same with you.
Video of trees:
There were no awards at this show, but I took the liberty of adding my own opinions and awards as I saw fit.
1st Place: Korean Hornbeam – Lindsay Shiba
2nd Place: Cork Bark Elm – Michael Roberts
3rd Place: Trident Maple – Kathy Benson
Best Abnormal Species: Flowering Pear
Personal Favorite: Pomegranate – Charlie Washburn
This had an interesting dynamic between the lower pomegranate and the deadwood on the lower trunk, and the living branch with a hanging pomegranate. I saw this as an artistic communication of the progression of perseverance. The trunk is fantastic, and hopefully I get to see this in a few years after the branching has developed more. Nothing technical or design related stood out to me other than this which is why I went with Charlie Washburn’s Pomegranate over this one.
Additional Tree Critique
I gave critique for the trees that won in each category, but had some constructive critique for trees that weren’t winners.
Some pruning on this tree to clear up a bit more negative space would have made this a significantly better tree. Specifically when entering it as a silhouette, the twiginess plays a huge part of this trees display. Eliminating the front branch, any branches that grow down beneath the primary branches lowest point, and additional removal of parts of the apex is where I would start.
The two lowest primary branches look like the mirror each other which also gives a funky feel to the tree.
Fantastic base and trunk as well.
This tree lacks a defined apex. The highest point on the tree is at the left, while the branches suggests that it would sit best at or near the middle. Further development in that area would compliment the fantastic base and lower branching.
I assume this tree is meant to be broom style. I’m no expert in brooms, but I feel this tree lacks direction. The two lowest branches give this an awkward feel as bar branches. Typically brooms have a more acute angle of the primary branches. I’m not sure what I’d do with this if it was mine, but I might take a few large branches off and grow it out a bit. Sorry my criticism isn’t all that helpful.
I would really love if the lower right branch was wired up a bit to better fit the overall silhouette. That is my main gripe about this tree. Also a thicker trunk will come in time, but that would make this a stellar tree.
This quince had a very poorly displayed surface. The moss was obviously slapped on there at the last minute (or done so poorly previously) and this combined with a pot that has the soil level too high made for a disaster in that aspect.
I understand the difficulty of cultivating moss in the pot as I live in the hot windy desert, but prepping this by removing a bit of topsoil and making sure the underside of the moss you’re placing has a least amount of dirt on it can help. Another thing is doing this early on, then shredding sphagnum moss up to bridge the gaps between the cracks. Then misting the moss as much as possible and keeping it shaded would help in the spreading of the moss to close the gaps. This was winter time, so it drying out and being exposed to too much sun shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
This was the runner up for best shohin. This tree is so beautifully executed, but it was so often passed right by due to it being too small and displayed so low. This in conjunction with a 5 or 3 point display, or having it on a stand with a companion plant would have made it stand out more.
The secondary trunk on the right needs to go on this tree. I feel it grows IN towards the main trunk instead of out and complementing it. Using the front branch to grow out into the secondary trunk might work.
I loved the display, pot choice, color contrast of the bark and display, and branching silhouette.
I feel that this tree is being grown without wiring through the clip and grow method. If that is the case then it will need a few more seasons and a constant pruning to keep the directions changing and from growing too straight. The main trunk lacks movement that might be difficult to correct.
This quince was placed off center of the mat, and I’m not sure why. I feel that it would’ve been better in the middle.
I’m not sure how I feel about the lower left branch. The wide shallow pot, silhouette, nebari, moss, and apex are all good, but something felt off about the branching. I think it might be the spacing between the first branch and the rest. If you used that semi-rear branch as the first left branch it might be better proportioned.
Hopefully this was insightful and helpful for those that find their tree above.
The Siberian Elm is a trash tree in the landscape. They drop branches, sprout up everywhere, and have that great attribute that all Elms have, they’re hard to kill.
While they aren’t the most common species for bonsai, they can be fantastic trees if handled correctly. Letting it grow too vigorously will result in die back of other more refined branches.
The taper and movement on this particular one that I dug up out of my yard was fantastic. For being an almost 2 year old weed, I was pretty pleased.
I made sure to be prepared this time before digging.
I decided to cut almost all the branches off. This will allow me to grow the branches in the places I want them. There was one useful branch that I wired into position.
The plan would be to let it recover for 2-3 years in this plastic container and style it as it grows out. Then from here it’d move into a finished bonsai container for further refinement and leaf reduction.