I love raft-style bonsai. We often find Water-elms (Planera aquatica) growing naturally in this style, as their tendency is to grow naturally in a shrub-like form. We brought this one home last summer, and it recovered very nicely. I’ve been itching to work on it, and with buds starting to swell this is an ideal time.
As with any raw material you choose to work on, you’ll have to figure out what your optimal design is and how to achieve it. In total there are nine trunks possible with this specimen; however, both aesthetically and horticulturally, those two inner trunks just can’t stay. Why? For one, they are short trunks surrounded by tall trunks. Do trees grow naturally this way? No, the shorter inner ones get shaded out and die. So that’s an obvious reason to remove these two. Also, in a forest planting you can’t see shorter specimens in the interior even if they could be maintained. So there’s another reason to remove the two inner ones we have here.
That opens things up quite a bit, and really improves the appearance of the whole group. Amazing what simplifying your design can do.
I was left with two very small trunks in the group, and frankly they didn’t add anything to the composition. With them gone, I’m left with all I really need to make this raft-style bonsai to be an outstanding specimen.
In the prior photo you probably noticed the crossing trunks. One good piece of wire later, and that problem is solved.
I had this wonderful Lary Howard pot available, and for me this just makes the composition complete.