Winter is that time of year when your deciduous trees have nothing to hide. Once the leaves are gone there they stand, and their structure becomes very apparent.
This water-elm finally let go of the last of its leaves about a week ago. You can see the tree is developing good ramification. However, you can also see the branches have gotten unruly. What’s more, the lower branches have tried during the growing season to once again reach for the sun. Today’s goal was to bring them back to horizontal, to make the tree look more realistic. If you study trees in the wild, you’ll notice the lower branches tend to run either horizontal or even droop, especially in the outer part of the tree’s silhouette. The farther up in the tree you go, the more the branches tend to reach skyward. That’s my goal with this specimen.
The after photo shows the result of necessary wiring and a good trimming to bring the silhouette back in, to remove crossing branches, and to open up the interior of the tree. What I mean by necessary wiring is this: under ideal conditions, our deciduous trees should only need “grow and clip” work. This is because in time the major branches become set in their proper positions, leaving only the finer branching to be managed. There’s really no point in fine wiring a fully developed deciduous tree, since you can count on ample budding to produce fine branching that runs in the direction you want. This does take time, but after about five years most specimens should be well in the grow and clip phase.
The work I did today will pay off next year, as the tree backbuds and fills in more densely. I expect perhaps one or two more wirings for the lowest two right branches in order to get them finally set.
This tree is available at our Elm Bonsai page.