Can you guess what this is? Some background first. I field-grow Chinese elms for bonsai, and frankly you’d be hard-pressed to name a better overall species for bonsai. In fact, it’s not hyperbole to state that Chinese elm is the single best deciduous species for bonsai in the world. A couple of years ago, I lifted a Chinese elm from one of my growing beds and potted it up. I didn’t replant that particular spot, as it is no longer in a long-term viable place for field-growing trees. Fast-forward to this year, and what do I see in that spot where the Chinese elm once grew? A whole “forest” of root suckers. Well, I’m a sucker for Chinese elm forests so I had to dig them up.
And now I have a new forest in the making. These trees are grouped more or less as they came out of the ground, which is pretty cool. The arrangement actually works. And wouldn’t you know it? One week later, all of these trees have new buds on them. I’m confident I can make a nice forest planting out of them in just a single year.
I like to walk down bonsai memory lane from time to time, so here are a few photos from the past of Chinese elm forests I’ve assembled and developed. This one is from 2015.
And six months later (I had to do a little reforestation).
This one is from 2014. It’s one of my favorite bonsai forests of all time (that I’ve created). I sent it on to a client though I’ve misplaced the record of who, but I sure wish I knew what it looks like today.