One nice thing about Ulmus pumila is that thickening branches doesn’t take very long, especially when the tree is small like this one. I let this sacrifice branch run wild since the summer, and it will be cut off this fall as I am hoping to show this tree. The branch is almost at the thickness I want it to be at, but I might let both the lower branches run a bit next year.
Thanks to everyone who has been watching this blog through its first year. Despite my infrequent posts, it has done much better than I expected with over 33 000 views since its inception last February!
Anyway, back to bonsai! This is my first work of 2013 – some thinning and coarse adjustments on a Siberian Elm. I posted some work on this tree back in July.
Siberian Elm are very strong growers. Despite having 95% of its roots cut off, crammed in a small pot, and being roughly wired in March, this tree grew very well this spring.
The other day I cut back the upper branches. This process will probably be repeated two or three more times this year. The lower branches need to grow wild for most of the season to allow them to thicken.
This tree took a step forward over the last couple of weeks, but still has a long way to go. It is one of several Ulmus pumila I got from this old hedge in 2010.
As a side note, this winter I ended up with about 10 kg of Robert Stevens’ Bonsai Aesthetics aluminum wire. This is the first tree I actually tried it out on. It is pretty good stuff… only slightly softer than Japanese anodized aluminum with a bit less holding power, but at a fraction of the price. As is typical with aluminum on deciduous trees, I found myself using wire about 1/2 the thickness of the branch to achieve the desired bending power. It is worth noting that this wire is pure glossy black, as opposed to the copper-ish colour of Japanese aluminum wire. It will be interesting to see how the colour stands up to the elements over this growing season.
Root work came next. This is the first time that this tree has had focused root work since coming out of the hedge. Almost all of these elms had massive taproots. This one needed some work with the reciprocating saw and a die grinder to further reduce the taproot. Furthermore, a few excessively long roots had to be pruned back. This may look extreme, but every root I have cut back on one of these Siberians has produced new roots near the cuts – even tap roots 15 cm in diameter.
This Elm has an excellent trunk for a classic informal upright design, but the nebari is terrible due to the presence of large taproots. On an informal upright elm, the nebari is one of the most important features. Root grafting may be in this tree’s future.