I love forest and group plantings. They come in several different forms: actual “forests” of multiple specimens of trees, rafts, multi-trunk groups, and so-called clump-style. It’s hard to beat a well-executed bonsai forest. In this year’s Water-elm collecting effort, we intentionally sought out multi-trunk specimens. I knew that in our collecting area they’d be easy to find and of outstanding quality. Here’s one example of a raft-style specimen, featuring seven individual trunks with great movement and proportions. The trunks range up to 1/2″ thick, and the overall height will be about 14″.
Here’s another raft, a very cool specimen with two larger trunks and three smaller ones. In this case the larger trunks have about 1″ thickness each, and overall the planting will be about 14″ tall.
And last but not least, a nice triple-trunk with (again) good trunk movement and proportions. The largest trunk here is about 3/4″, and the overall height will be about 12″.
Now for something different. From time to time I run across a specimen that’s very upright, almost formal upright. Here’s one such case. The base is about 2.5″, and it’ll end up being roughly 24″ tall when I’m done. You can see the slight movement of the trunk, and the taper is of course outstanding as I was able to chop to a smaller upright to continue the trunk line. You may notice the surface root that looks like it got gnawed on. I suspect that’s just what happened. It makes for a nice feature. Fall is a good time to do some wiring on many species. Water-elms are well-suited to it.
The first step is to cut away all of the branches that aren’t going to be part of the design. Things are clearing up already!
We go from the bottom up, as always.
And here’s what I ended up with, in short order. You may wonder if there’s any issue with trimming a tree at this stage of the growing season. I’ve always had good luck. The tree has already started storing up food for winter, and will continue to do so. There may be a little additional growth in the next few weeks, but I don’t need a big push to ensure the health of the tree. I’d love to know what you think about today’s specimens. Do you grow forest and group bonsai?