We’re getting deep into our short but seemingly endless Deep South winter, and by next month depression will be kicking in for those of us so inclined. The only good thing about winter is that I get to collect a lot of new material, and do some actual bonsai making. Today I went out into my field-growing area and located a suitable candidate, an American elm (Ulmus Americana).

American elm1-24-16-1It’s a little hard to see among the nice winter weeds gracing the growing field, but you there’s a good trunk line and plenty of branch growth. There’s got to be a bonsai in there somewhere.

I first collected this tree four years ago and put it into a nursery container. Two years ago I decided it needed more vigor so I planted it out. The first year it grew some, but this past year it really took off. That told me it was plenty strong enough to lift.

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Out of the ground and roots trimmed, here’s what it looks like. You can see the vigorous root growth that started in a nursery pot and took off in the ground. A nice, healthy specimen.

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Here it is after a pruning and trimming. This one has a really nice branch set. It’s destined for the classic deciduous tree shape. But it doesn’t look quite right, does it?





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This is why we wire trees. If you compare this photo to the previous one, you can see the harmony and balance in the structure. Branches are where they need to be. In 2016, the branches will throw shoots along their length and these will be selected according to whether they enhance or detract from the bonsai’s appearance. In two or three years, this tree will be showable.

If you’ve been looking for a nice American elm bonsai, this tree is available at our Elm Bonsai page.