Remember to use the new Insider’s Club Form to post your questions and comments. This helps everybody learn and help and this is where I am now posting responses to your inquires and comments. (You’ll find the forum by scrolling up; it’s on your right.)

This Cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) I collected back in April just about croaked, but I took extraordinary steps and it appears to have pulled through. You can see why I worked so hard to save it. That shari running from near the base most of the way up the tree is 100% natural, and makes for a great feature worth designing around. But what’s the right planting angle?


This is another choice, which does have some positives going for it. But you just can’t see the feature as well.


I figured out that the tree had way too much slant in it, so I wedged it up for this photo. Still looks nice from this angle, but now I’ve pretty much lost sight of the shari.


Now I think I’m getting somewhere. There’s still a slant to the planting angle, but it’s not as drastic and makes for a more natural impression (in my opinion). I think this is something I can work with.



It’s not always easy to see the tree in these collected sticks and stumps, so I often take pencil and paper to the task to come up with a plan. This is one of those cases that really lends itself to this technique. Here’s the result.

It’s a masculine tree, of course, with that big gash ripped into it, so a rectangular pot is called for. In order to emphasize the lengthy shari, a narrower silhouette is in order too. Given the tree’s gentle taper, making it look taller is also called for. So I need the branches to remain close in to the trunk.

This was a great exercise. Don’t be shy about taking pencil and paper to any of your trees in development. You may be surprised at what you come up with.

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think.