As many of you know, in the winter of 2014 I lost a number of trees including most of my specimen water-elms. Of the water-elms that were on benches during the snow/ice storm and 15 F deep-freeze for a couple of days after, exactly four survived – but in the case of two of them, barely.

Water-elm9-25-10-1Here’s one of them, in a photo taken in September of 2010, two months after it was collected. I direct-potted this raft into a vintage Richard Robertson tray and let it recover from collecting. During the next three years I worked to refine the planting. Then came 2014, brutal cold, and I initially thought the tree was dead. I left it along, and finally in late April I saw some hopeful buds. But there was nothing to do at that point except water the tree and wait to see what was going to happen.





So here we are in 2015, and here’s what was left of my forest; this photo was taken from the opposite direction of the first. You can see I paid no attention at all to the planting, as evidenced by the butterweed that sprang up (or maybe laziness is a better explanation). What I’ve got here is a number of shoots emerging from the spreading root base, near the original trunks. Note: the two trunks off to the side had been part of the original raft, but became separated during the collecting and potting process. I kept them with the group, which I think was the right decision.

Water-elm3-16-15-2My first step was to completely wash off the roots, to see what was going on underground. I was pleasantly surprised to find a healthy root mass. So I definitely had something to work with.






I cut back the stubs of the original trunks, trimmed off unneeded branches and new trunks, and wired those new trunks that were not moving harmoniously with the others. I also removed the smaller group from this planting, putting it in the ground for future growth and use.





Finally, my new raft/clump style bonsai begins its new life in a fine Byron Myrick tray. Obviously, the quality of this specimen is not nearly what the original was. But isn’t it better to make lemonade out of our bonsai lemons whenever possible?

I’ll post an update once the tree leafs out.