We collected this nice smaller Water-elm in August of 2018. By October the shoots were strong enough for an initial wiring. Doesn’t look like much, does it? But the trunk base is 2″ at the soil, and with the trunk chop at 11″ I should be able to make a nice 16-18″ tall broom-form bonsai out of it. From humble beginnings ….

Fast-forward to today (5/5/19). This tree has grown with very good strength, and that tells me I have a solid root system to work with. This is the basis for all of your bonsai. Without a strong, healthy root system you can’t do a whole lot with any tree, no matter how nice the trunk and branches may be. So always be sure to devote the right amount of time and attention to this vital part of your tree that you only see once every few years.

My first order of business today is to be sure I have the correct front selected. Here’s one view.

Another view.

And another.


And back to the start. I don’t know about you, but I found with this tree that no matter how I turned it I could see a nice bonsai. Most trees are not amenable to the so-called “360 bonsai” approach, meaning they look good from every angle. It’s why bonsai have a front, sides and a back. But occasionally you’ll run across a specimen that looks good no matter how you turn it. A nice fringe benefit.

This tree had a couple of spots where the bark was unattached. The one on the bottom was my doing – sometimes things happen when you’re potting up a tree. Most elms have bark that easily detaches from the tree, so you always have to be cognizant of this fact when collecting and potting them. And even though you know what to expect, sometimes you get surprised!

I went ahead and removed the detached bark and scraped away a thin layer of wood underneath. Both areas will be treated with lime sulfur once they’re thoroughly dry. The one at the base will also need to be sturdied up with PC Petrifier.

The final step for today, potting and trimming. I left the leader alone, so that it will continue to run and thicken up. This will make the tapering transition look right. I expect that by fall I should be ready to prune the leader back.

Let me know what you think.