“Big Hoss” is a really big Water-elm we brought home last summer. Recently I posted him for sale as raw material. I’ve been studying this unique piece of material since we first happened upon it. No question it’s an awesome specimen. But how to make the most of it?
After clearing out some unnecessary shoots, it was time to make a decision with regard to the fork in the trunk that’s part of the charm of this tree. This was easy. My reciprocating saw made short work of it. The bigger problem lies in the part of the tree above this fork. While it does have gradual taper, and while my intention has always been to use all of that trunk, the more I’ve looked at the tree the more I realized that this is not the answer. Why? The base of the tree is nice and stout, and it tapers pretty quickly to the area of the fork. Then, for the next 18 inches the character of the tree changes. So we end up with stout at the bottom, slender up above, with that neat fork planted right in the middle. Stout and slender won’t go together in this tree, so I’ve got to get rid of slender as a design element. The question being, of course, where exactly to chop.
Here’s the winning spot. Notice now that I’ve done away with slender and created more stout. There’s no stylistic conflict anymore.
A little wire and a little shaping. This tree has a ways to go, but the direction is completely clear and there’s little doubt the ultimate form of this bonsai will be rock-solid. The leader will be allowed to grow out untrimmed until sometime next year. I need it to get a lot thicker at the base, so callus will start to roll over the top of the angle cut. Likewise, the branch at the base of the cut will provide some callus there. In about two years it’ll be time to do some carving on the chops (both of them); by that time the result should look very natural. Let me know what you think. Did I do right by Big Hoss?
Here’s Big Hoss’s “brother,” another specimen from last year that got styled back in April. You may remember where we left off.
This tree has put on an amazing amount of growth. Notice how much the leader thickened in four and a half months. It’s been chopped back, and has grown out new shoots. I’ve also been able to cut back a lot of the other growth. Come 2020, this tree may be ready for a bonsai pot.