Finally, a Chinese Elm Bonsai, Jan 2018

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Hi there nigel saunders here today we’re In the middle of a january thaw It’s a balmy plus seven degrees right Now But the temperature’s supposed to go Down to minus 14 by the end of the day It’s raining right now but it’s starting To change to freezing rain All my trees are still outside on the Benches they’ve survived the minus 22 Degree weather And they all look like they’re doing Really well Even the elephants Look okay So today we’re going to be working on my Chinese elm It’s one i got at the same time that i Got this needle juniper Right here And here’s the chinese elm These were trees of george vanners he Passed away he was a club member so i Got two of his trees i got the needle Juniper and this chinese elm So let’s get it inside and we’ll start Doing some work to it I’ve brought the chinese elm indoors It’s a really gloomy rainy day outside Today so A nice day to work on it inside I don’t know too much about the history Of this tree i think it was bought as a Pre-bonsai tree from the united states

My aim for this tree Is to grow it in the style that you Would see a chinese elm out in nature I’m quite lucky i have a full-size Chinese elm growing in the neighborhood And it’s a really beautiful tree it It’s going to be the inspiration for This tree So i’ve shown it before in some pictures In some of my other videos but we’ll go Back and have a look at it again I’ve got pictures of it in summer and Winter and there’s some drone shots also Here we are with the new drone I’m going to come down and give you a Shot of it It has an hd camera on it And it’s being flown by my expert pilot Julian my son So here we go It’s time for takeoff [Music] [Music] [Music] Let’s go [Applause] [Music] So [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music] Before i start working on the tree I’ll show you a 360 degree view of it

So you get an idea of the structure as It exists now [Music] [Music] [Music] I’m going to start off by going over the Good points of the tree And then the bad points of the tree So it’ll kind of give us an idea of some Of the things we want to correct or Remove or fix I’ll start at the bottom of the tree A good point is the trunk it has really Nice taper Has nice flare at the base of the tree And it has nice bark texture Going up higher in the tree it has a lot Of branches in the upper canopy A lot of branches we can select from To choose the final design Next i want to go over some of the Not so good points of the tree I’ll start with the pot here i don’t Think this pot suits the tree it’s a Very unique looking pot But i envision this tree in a low Landscape type oval pot I’m not sure when this tree was repotted Last But i know it’s been a long time So one of my priorities will be to get The surface roots sorted out so they’re Nice and radial And we see some of those surface roots

Above the soil line Here’s a close-up of the trunk of the Tree I won’t be repotting today even though It desperately needs it i’ll wait till It’s closer to spring I’ll just be working on the upper part Of the tree today Coming up from the base of the tree We encounter two branches that are Really low That kind of opposite each other So we may have to do something with Those As we come up higher i’ve got a branch That comes out at a funny angle it uh Doesn’t come out radially from the tree It kind of Comes out almost sideways here from the Back of the tree sideways And then as we come up we divide into Two fairly thick upright trunks And there’s a bit of inverse taper in These upright trunks up here so And the rest looks pretty good up above That So there’s lots of correction work to be Done This tree is also very two dimensional All the branches come out to the sides Including the two lower branches This branch And the upper trunks they’re all in one Plane so if i rotate it sideways

You can see that makes the tree very Skinny there’s no Front and back branches much There is some up here in the canopy but Down lower there’s no Nothing coming forward or backwards so It’s a very two-dimensional tree My next step for this tree Is probably the most important one and That’s to study the tree To look at the branch structure Carefully And come up with a plan for the final Design Take your time when you’re studying the Tree Don’t rush it You should spend more time looking at The tree and coming up with a plan of Action Than actually doing the work on the tree My first work on the tree is going to be Dealing with these two lower branches I’ve got these two bar branches That i don’t like um They’re very low on the tree They’re not really elegant this one’s Not bad but i don’t like this one coming Out horizontally And i have another branch directly above It In the exact same placement on the tree So I think i’m going to get rid of this

Lowest branch it’s very low on the tree It can’t be developed into a twin trunk Whereas this one probably can So the first thing i’m going to do is Remove this lowest branch I don’t like removing old mature Branches Off old mature trees But in this case i see no other choice i Just can’t live with those You know those Opposite branches there So here i go i’ll save this branch as a Cutting and maybe we can get something Growing from it So here i go i’m going to use my branch Cutters And i’m going to come in and Make a nice cut There we Go here’s a close-up of the pruning scar It’s quite a large wound that’s one of The reasons i don’t like removing Large branches off old trees however it Will heal Here’s what the tree looks like without That lowest branch And i think you can see it looks more Tree-like already Now that i’ve removed that lowest branch I can try and find a front for the tree I’m going to rotate it around And try and find a plane where it’s It’s not so two-dimensional where all

The branches aren’t coming out to the Left and right So we have some branches coming out the Front and the back Before i can start picking a front for The tree I’ve got to see what my surface roots Are doing i don’t want like a big thick Surface root coming out straight towards The viewer So i’m going to have to remove all this Nice moss And try and get down and have a look at The roots I just want to expose the surface roots To give me an idea of what they’ll look Like So while i’ve been digging around on the Roots i did find a grub in the soil I’m not sure what kind it is But grubs are never a good thing so i’ll Put them outside It looks like we’ve got some thick roots On this side of the tree And this side of the tree the soil line Goes quite low And there’s some finer roots down below Here so I’ll be really uh Happy when i get this tree repotted And we start developing our radial root Base So after examining the roots i don’t Think the roots are much of a factor in

Determining the front of the tree It has a fairly good radial root base Something that we can fine tune in the Future So i can basically pick any front of the Tree i want and i’ll have some nice Roots I’m liking this view of the tree as a Possible front So somewhere kind of in here And i’ll explain why From this view it has a nice trunk line The trunk comes towards you here So it’s not a trunk that’s leaning away From you You know other than the like the dead-on Front view where the branches go left And right and the apex goes left and Right There’s no other view that the trunk Comes towards you If i go around the back of the tree Everything would be leaning away Even if i tilted the tree It’s still got a bit of a curve here Where it leans away and comes back so That’s one of the reasons i like This is the front of the tree My intention with this tree Is to grow this low branch as an upright Trunk It’s about the same thickness as the Trunks where they split into two up Above so it needs some height to justify

That thickness Another reason i like this view It places this small branch towards the Back So you notice the trunk line Your eye comes from the roots Up the trunk And it kind of skips this branch this Branch just fills in some foliage back Here It doesn’t interrupt your eye flowing up To the division into the upright trunks In the upper canopy there’s quite a long Branch that reaches towards the back So this type of a view Puts that branch behind the tree which Gives Which gives it some nice depth If i choose this is the front of the Tree i do have to remove a large root Down here that’s coming straight 90 Degrees towards the viewer which never Looks good it’s always better to have Them the roots spreading to the left and Right rather than coming straight out I know it needs repotting badly because I had a lot of trouble Sticking my front marker in the soil It’s just packed in there with roots So i can’t really Position my Ah there’s a spot That’ll have to do that’ll be my front Somewhere around there

I do like these weeping branches they Have lots of character Lots of taper lots of movement They do need some cleaning up they’re Starting to get a little dense in the Tips And i’m starting to get some thickening Here So some thinning out we’ll fix those So these branches Need cleaning up but they also need to Be shortened a bit they’re starting to Get a little long compared to the height Of the tree In this work i’ll be shortening the Branches To Two sets of leaf buds And i’ll use directional pruning You can tell if the branches are alive Or dead by how flexible they are If they’re nice and flexible means They’re a living branch They just break off in your hand you Know they’re dead I like the weeping effect of these lower Branches But i don’t want them to go too low i Don’t want it to go below the lip of the Pot And make a semi cascading branch out of It So i’m going to have to prune it off Shorter

To keep the branch Above the ground Towards the tip here Anything going down i’ll have to remove So we’ll come in Below the branch here and remove this Bottom one Like that There’s another branch Lower here the tip of the branch i can Remove Like that That keeps the branch from getting any Lower There’s a few Smaller branches underneath that i can Remove also There is a stub coming off this branch Here I’m not sure if it’s alive or dead Even if it’s alive i don’t think i want It i want the eye to flow up the trunk And out the branch and up the apex here I don’t want it interrupted by this Piece of dead wood So i’m going to remove that Just like that I’m also going to remove there’s a dead Part of the trunk back here Get rid of that I have a branch here that’s kind of Growing parallel with the lower branch And it’s growing on the inside of the Curve here

From this upright trunk here So i’m going to remove this lower branch So i’ll come in here with my pruners And try and get a nice Flush cut I think that’s about the best we can get It it was a bit of a knob there The rest of the branch isn’t too bad I can do some cleanup in the fine Branches coming off of it Possibly shorten a few of them like this One here And reduce that down to here Maybe this one here But i’ll leave the rest and see how they Develop I don’t see anything majorly wrong with The branch that’s coming off to the Right here Other than just a little bit of Shortening of some of the twigs And the rest looks quite natural And i’m happy with it The next step for this tree Will be to go up into the apex and start Sorting that structure out The first thing that i noticed in the Apex is that this branch here Is directly over top of our lower branch It’s almost like a parallel branch That will block any light reaching this Lower branch I do want to develop this more into a Trunk line

So i’ve got to leave Some space for it to grow so sunlight Can get at it and it’s got room to grow Upright So i may have to remove this big branch Here Well i’ve looked at the tree for a long Time Studied all the possibilities and i Can’t bring myself to remove this branch It’s too well developed This main trunk divides into two main Branches here I think the tree would look Unbalanced without it So i’ll just prune it up to keep it a Little shorter I’ll just prune some of these Tips back a bit There are some areas on it that are Getting a little thick i’ve got too many Branches coming out from one spot So i’ll have to remove some of them I do want to grow this tree You know keep growing it upright so i Don’t want to remove all my branches Growing up And i like the weeping branches coming Down also so I think i’ll just have to get rid of This lower one i’ve got two branches up Right here Uh i like the hanging branches but Got too many in that area

It’s starting to get a bulge here Let’s remove this lower one here too I don’t like the way this branch just Comes out 90 degrees from the trunk i’d Rather it Be more forward However I’ll just prune the tip off We do have some branches growing in a Better direction as they develop I can maybe prune it back further And get the branch to come more forward In order to Avoid getting reverse taper And to minimize this bulging near the Tip of the branch I’m going to continue cleaning it up Looking at it from all angles and Cleaning out those unwanted branches I’ve got this branch cleaned up now There still is a bit of a bulge around Here It’s not a lot i can do about it at this Moment i’ll have to let you know this Part thicken up Grow more branches to heal that wound And hopefully The bulge will slowly go away I’m going to clean up this area of the Tree next i’ve got a lot of branches Coming out from one spot that’s going to Create quite a bulge here in future So i want to eliminate At least one of the major branches and i

Think i’m going to pick this one because It crosses in front of this other trunk So let’s get rid of it Gone There’s another branch growing down here That i don’t think we want There’s two branches going from the same Spot I’ll have to go Some branches growing inside here that Can be cleaned up One down here get rid of this one And this one growing inside That cleans that area up a bit This trunk line comes up here and then It divides into my two major branches Here And then at the same point i’ve got all This growth here That Looks okay to develop a crown but i Think this bulge is just gonna get worse So we’re gonna get A lot of inverse taper here so i’ve got To clean that out So i’ll come in And prune it all away Just rough cutting it at first And then i’ll come in and try and get a Nice flush cut Like that My next operation will be to come up in The canopy And remove anything growing inwards so

I want all my branches to come up and Fan outwards I don’t want them all crisscrossing Inside the tree So i want to keep that crown open and Light So i can further develop it and ramify It as it gets larger So all these branches that are Crisscrossing in the inside like this One here will have to be removed So let’s get that one off There’s one growing on the inside here That should be removed I often use my hand to visualize the Final shape of the canopy So maybe somewhere here rounded canopy So definitely some of these upright Pieces will need to come off So this branch is definitely getting too Long here i’m going to take The tip off it Get in here Right there And I think i’m going to bring it down even Lower Maybe to this branch here We’ll clean that up I’m always looking for a graceful flow To the branches so Those two Flow in really nicely I don’t want this branch back here

If i rotate the tree slightly This back branch is a big problem it Curves upwards and it’s got All kinds of branches coming out from Basically one spot so And it’s too high so it’s got to be Reduced in height and simplified So i think i’m going to have to take off That entire top of it So here i go Right here It’s a big cut Well that sure cleaned that up Here’s an overall view of the progress So far I think it’s getting more flowing and More tree-like I’ll continue pruning I’ve been standing back and looking the Overall design of the tree I think i want to make the trunk on this Side of the tree less important And You know slowly develop This trunk as the main trunk So this trunk will be sort of secondary So i’m going to reduce it down a bit More on this side And again i’m always trying to look for Nice flow lines to the tree So I think i can take it right off here Taking these upper trunks off i’ll just Cut them off roughly for now

Get them out of the way And then we’ll come in and Try and Get rid of this branch [Music] A little more I’ve got a fairly major branch here that I don’t like If i rotate it around it cuts across Another branch So i’m going to remove that From this direction Wow hot flu There’s a lot of branches on this tree Which means there’s a lot of choices to Make Which is good and bad it Keeps you going that’s for sure I’m gonna have to remove this Now that’s somewhere At my front Here’s a shot of the tree now all pruned Up I i dealt with a lot of the major Problems of this tree today and tried to Solve them I wouldn’t say i’m 100 Successful with every part of the tree Yet but uh It’s got a lot of growing to do now And there’ll be more selection in future To slowly refine this into a majestic Elm tree I’ll spin the tree around now so you can

See all the different areas that i Pruned Outside the rain has stopped and it’s Snowing now there’s a layer of snow on The ground So i’ll move the elm back outside into Dormancy for the rest of the winter It’s time now for today’s update today’s Update is my large leaf chefflera bonsai And the tree had a bit of a tragic Situation One hot summer in the greenhouse It got up to close to 46 degrees And it kind of fried the upper part of The tree Here’s the bonsai today The top god severely burned from the sun At first i thought it was just the tip Of a branch that died But then later on Almost the whole trunk of the tree died Off So the trunk died off this was not this Summer but the summer before it killed This section of the trunk So it’s starting to heal now the live Vein that was underneath that didn’t get The harsh sun Is still growing and it’s got branches Growing And the top woody part is just driftwood It does make the trunk of this tree very Unique And

I still like the tree as a bonsai I would have preferred that this didn’t Happen to the tree But It’s not a total loss i think the tree Still looks good It’s more unique now And i’ll just continue to develop it I’ll give the tree a spin so you can see It from all angles So that’s the update to the large leaf Chef flair bonsai It had some tragedy but i think someday It’ll look even better and more unique Before we go i’ll show you another Update to my royal oak bone size The oak trees are growing really well And some of the locust trees are Starting to sprout now Before we look at the locust trees There’s a little oak here that needs Some help it’s sprouted up and the shell Of the seed Is sitting on top so it’s not getting Any sunlight so i’m going to remove the Little shell There we go you can get some sunlight Now Here’s one of the little locust seeds Just starting to sprout Here’s a locust tree here that’s just Starting to get its first set of true Leaves on it [Music]

So Well the weather has definitely gone From warm to cold now so i’m nigel Saunders thanks for joining me in the Bonsai zone [Applause]

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