This small Cedar elm, Ulmus crassifolia, was collected in 2018 and is the last of three I had in the pot (they went on to their own pots last year). I love the nice natural shape this tree exhibits. If you look closely you can see the spot about halfway up where I removed a straight leader, in order to make for a more attractive shape for the tree. This specimen, though small (trunk base 1″), will make a nice bonsai. But it needs some work.

This tree obviously lends itself to the “naturalistic” style of bonsai for deciduous trees. In the landscape, most deciduous trees have a rounded crown and can be said to fit the “free-form broom” style. In my view, there’s seldom a good reason to try and force a tree to be something it clearly doesn’t want to be. So my job here is to simply bring out the shape the tree is already growing toward.

Step number one was to wire two of the branches in the crown, and position them most effectively.

Next comes one of those branches sticking straight up in back. Like to first one, it needs to be moved into a more horizontal position.

Now I move to the front, repeating the process.

It’s also time to get the tree into its ultimate position for potting, so I can see how the styling work has progressed. Nice.

In this photo I’ve trimmed the crown a bit, but also shifted the tree so that the low upright branch is a little more forward. I think this is better.

Pot selection is always important. This Chuck Iker round should suit the tree very well.

The final step for today. I uncovered a bit more trunk base when root-pruning, and it has a nice turn to it. The tree had a massive amount of root, but given how tough Cedar elms are it should shake off the root-pruning and never look back.

The low left upright branch needs to get stronger this year, so I’ll leave it untrimmed for a while to encourage more energy in that part of the tree. By summer there should be good balance.

The base of this tree is about 1″, and it’s 13″ in height from the soil. It’ll be posted for sale in a couple of months.

Let me know what you think.