Water-elm10-24-15You first saw this water-elm on August 16th.  Dimensionally, it’s the biggest I’ve ever collected, sporting a trunk base 6″ across and measuring 42″ along the length of the trunk (but only 28″ in height from the soil surface).  In terms of character, I’ve never collected anything better.  It’s no exaggeration to say this is a very significant water-elm pre-bonsai – in size and style, certainly rare if not unique.

If you consider most examples of this species, the typical form for less than fully mature non-primary specimens is bush-like (water-elm does not get more than about 40 feet tall).  Smaller trees tend to have two or more trunks.  This form persists as they get larger, but you typically see one large trunk, one or two that are somewhat smaller, then one or more whip-sized trunks emerging from the root base.  This makes collecting both exciting and challenging, as you don’t necessarily want everything to be multi-trunk.  And it’s for this reason that I’m always excited to find a single-trunk example.  Cathy found this one, and I was stoked.  I have no idea what happened to it, but it was growing near a heavily traveled swamp road and most likely was run over by a truck untold years ago.  Forced over, damaged, it nonetheless grew on.

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that my August collecting efforts were not as successful as I would have liked.  It’s just one of those things that happens, tough to foresee.  Despite this, about four weeks ago I noticed roots growing across one of the drainage holes of this tree’s nursery container.  That was all I needed to know.  I was sure this amazing water-elm specimen was going to make it.

I’ve pretty much ignored the tree over the past month.  Along with everything else, it got watered three times a day as we’ve had mostly warm weather through mid- to late-October.  But nothing more.

Today I was shocked to see a shoot pushing right near the chop on this tree.  It was something I really didn’t expect, despite the fact that I knew this tree had made a lot of roots over the past couple of months.  I figured it would simply wait until Spring 2016 to bud out.

So we’ll see how much growth we get before the inevitable cool-off happens, then it’s on to winter and the long wait till April when water-elms bud out.  Assuming all goes well, I should be doing an initial wiring and shaping by early May.  You’ll see updates as the tree progresses from collected trunk to bonsai.

And of course, it’s absolutely a requirement that this tree needs to have “Dragon” in its name.  I’m not sure if it needs anything else, but that part is settled.

Let me know what you think of this tree.