Here’s another case where slip-potting Water-elms as they grow out vigorously does not impact their recovery in the least. You can see the growth just kept on. So now that we’re in another good period for encouraging growth by pruning, I thought it was the perfect time to do the initial styling of this bonsai to be.

I started on the right-hand tree (this view is from the back). Working my way up from the base, you can see here that I’ve wired the two lowest branches. These are important in giving visual depth to the planting.

From the front view. I have now done the initial shaping and placement of the two low branches. The higher one came with the tree, so I merely put it where it will provide the most advantageous rearward foliage.

Here’s the right-hand tree fully wired, with branches positioned. A good start.

In this view from the rear of the planting, I’ve wired the new branch emerging from the rear of the main tree. Placing this branch and its eventual crop of foliage will be a bit of a challenge, since I have competition from the left-hand tree. But that’s a problem to be solved down the road. For now, it’s sufficient to put some shape in this branch and let it continue to grow and thicken.

Another view from the front. The main tree is starting to take shape.

Now I’m working my way up the main tree. Some of the branching that came with the tree is desirable to keep, at least for now, so I’m selecting branches, wiring and shaping with this in mind.

Now I’ve finished wiring out the main tree. The branches are placed in suitable spots. As they push new growth, it’ll become desirable to move from wiring to grow and clip. Water-elm is one of the best species for this technique.

Last but not least is the left-hand tree. Here’s a closeup showing the structure of the tree, which like the others is just terrific. And with this flush of shoots, designing the tree is really a piece of cake.

A few minutes, some wire, some shaping, and some trimming later, this tree has its initial design.

This is all that needs doing for today. Each tree has been shaped according to its natural design, and the three trees make a wonderful composition when taken as a whole. By this time next year, the tree will have at least tertiary ramification and will have reached a showable state.

Let me know what you think of today’s work. Leave me a comment below.