I get a lot of pleasure out of trying new things in bonsai, especially things that defy conventional wisdom. This includes “out of season” collecting. As an example, I lifted this field-grown Cedar elm, Ulmus crassifolia, in October.
This photo was taken on October 15th, after the tree had been lifted and potted. I left the foliage alone, considering the time of year and the fact that I wanted to encourage root growth. Is this the right approach? Frankly I’m not sure. My practice when collecting deciduous trees during the growing season is to defoliate, and that would probably have been the best approach. But you don’t learn anything new by doing the conventional, right?
Over the next two weeks I went ahead and defoliated the tree. Some of the foliage dropped off on its own, and some began to look not-so-happy. That told me what I needed to know.
A week later, it was obvious the tree had come through late-season collecting all right. This is early November, so I figured the tree had time before the first freeze to establish some roots. Cedar elm is a tough species, so there was no doubt in my mind this one would make it.
And here we are, six weeks later. We’ve had about four nights of freezing weather, with the lowest temp being 28°F. This is not cold enough to harm the new growth, despite the fact that it’s somewhat tender.
Now the question becomes, is this growth going to persist through winter? And if so, what happens when the new spring growth begins to emerge? If the growth does make it through winter, I suspect it will get pretty “tired” sometime in late spring and need to be removed in favor of fresher growth. But time will tell.