As most of you know, the winter of 2014 was extremely harsh down here, so much so that I lost a number of trees during a snow and ice storm that literally froze my trees to their benches. I wasn’t alone. I only spoke with one or two of my clients up north who didn’t lose trees as well. But you move on. You get more trees, you train them, you pot them, you build them into respectable bonsai. And that’s what I’m doing.
This is one of the trees I lost last year, photographed in 2012. I had collected it in 2009, began its training that year and put it into the unique, vintage Richard Robertson oblong pot you see here. A perfect match of tree and pot, to my way of thinking. But after last year’s killing winter all I had left was the pot, which sat forlorn under one of my benches.
Enter this tree, an August 2014 collect that had refused to bud anywhere but right near the base last fall. With water-elms you don’t give up until you’re absolutely sure they’re not coming back. So this year, while all my others budded and this one re-budded near its base, I reminded myself to just leave it alone. Sure enough, come late April I saw a bud up the trunk. Whenever you see one there’s more than one, so I scoured the trunk and sure enough, there was a bud up near the very top of the tree. Amazing! So I resumed ignoring it, and buds popped everywhere and then turned to shoots and then started thickening.
Here’s the tree after trimming the excess branches, wiring up a nice branch set, giving the trunk a good cleaning, and potting into my classic Richard Robertson oblong. Isn’t it lovely?
From this point to the degree of training in the tree above will be about three years. Water-elms ramify without any coaxing, and you can stop wiring and go with grow and clip in year two.