This Cedar elm was slip-potted in August of 2017, when I placed it into this nice handmade Byron Myrick rectangle. The tree had thrown enough buds to allow a nice branch set and leader for training.


A few weeks later, and the tree continued its rampant growth. This is most apparent in the length and strength of the leader. When you’re building a tree from a bare trunk, making the apex and especially the apical transition is vital to making a believable bonsai.


A few weeks later, it’s time to prune back the leader. I could have continued to let it run, but that would have hampered my ability to build taper into the leader itself. This is a balancing act you’ll have to perform over and over again.

Pay particular attention to the new leader I’ve wired up.


Compare this photo to the previous one. That very small shoot has now taken over as the dominant leader. This is that next round of thickening vital to the apex-building process.


Fast-forward a year. In this growing season, I’ve done mostly light trimming and a little wiring to continue directing the development of the branches. The tree is a bit disorganized-looking in this photo … but there’s a plan in there.


The first right branch was allowed to grow upward earlier in the season. Why? This induces faster growth, therefore more thickening. I want this branch to ultimately be about one-fourth to one-third the thickness of the trunk at the point where it emerges. This will produce the appropriate representation of a mature tree in nature.


I went ahead and wired the first right branch, in order to make the tree more aesthetically pleasing. While I was working on it, I noticed that a slight turn of the tree seems to produce a better appearance. I’ll very likely turn the tree slightly in 2019.


A few weeks later, and this tree is just about in hibernation for the winter. Only a few leaves now remain. I did a little strategic light pruning, and a little wiring in the apex. All in all, not a bad show for 18 months’ of effort.

Let me know what you think of this tree. I anticipate offering it for sale next year.

Trunk base 1.75″

Height 18″

Age about 15-20 years