Bonsai Files

Welcome to the Bonsai Files! This is where you’ll find information and how-to articles about trees Zach collects and designs.

Water-Elm #38 – “Big Hoss” – Made It

This Water-elm, "Big Hoss," is one of the biggest I collected this year.  We brought it home on August 4th.  I cleaned it up, chopped back the roots enough to fit the eventual bonsai pot, and potted it up.  Then I waited. It took a few weeks, but a tiny bud appeared...

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Water-Elm #40 Initial Styling

This may be the strongest of the Water-elms I brought home this year.  The shoots grew so fast that I even had to pinch a couple of them so they wouldn't get out of hand.  At 1/8" thick at the base already, there's no way I can delay getting some wire on this tree....

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Planning A Classically Styled Water-Elm

There is an ongoing debate in the bonsai world with regard to styling deciduous trees.  It boils down to this: some artists feel that it's not okay to style a deciduous tree in the so-called "pine tree style."  What's the pine tree style?  Well, that's the classic...

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Water-Elm #53 Initial Styling

Here's another case where slip-potting Water-elms as they grow out vigorously does not impact their recovery in the least.  You can see the growth just kept on.  So now that we're in another good period for encouraging growth by pruning, I thought it was the perfect...

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Water-Elm #35 Initial Styling

Water-elm #35 was slip-potted this past weekend.  I put off styling and especially trimming because the lunar cycle wasn't favorable to pruning for growth.  It also gave me the opportunity gauge how well the slip-potting went.  I can tell you, the tree did not skip a...

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Water-Elm #35 Video #2

This is one of the Water-elms I collected on August 4th.  I really liked the natural but artistic look of the clump (not all clumps are worth working on, trust me).  I knew I could make something really special out of this one. In two months' time this tree has put on...

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Water-Elm #53 Video #2

I posted Water-Elm #53 Video #1 on September 9th.  Since that time, the trees have grown out very well, so much so that today I decided I could risk slip-potting them.  There's always a risk in doing this, but I've found over the years that the risk is very low.  So...

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Remember This Sycamore?

Most of you probably remember this Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis.  From humble beginnings it made its way humbly into a bonsai pot.  At the time, I said it would either end up being great or terrible.  The jury's still out on that one, but today seemed like a good...

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Water-Elm #39 Video #2

This is Water-elm #39, the day it came home and was potted up.  I published Video #1 once the tree had started pushing new growth.  It grew so rapidly that today it was time to do an initial styling. Here's the step by step process I used to create the initial design...

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