Pruning American Elms Plus Tropical Work, Part 1, The Bonsai Zone, March 2021

Pruning American Elms Bonsai Plus Tropical Work, Part 1

Hi everyone nigel saunders here in a previous video i pruned up my largest of the three american elms and today i’ll be working on the other two i pruned the largest american elm up to try and give it that american elm style where the branches come off and it sweeps up into that martini glass type style with a crown on the top and it’s slowly getting there so i’m going to kind of match that naturalistic style for my other smaller two this one has a lot of awkward branches on it i guess this one does too so a lot of work to do on these and again they’re early in the development as bonsai they were just dug up from the front garden they grew from a seed and you know slowly been working on the styling of them here’s a look at the medium-sized elm so it has a big chop at the back here there’s been a really large branch taken off down low here there’s kind of an ugly bulge here where this branch comes out the top of it is getting stronger which is good it was always very weak up top here so i’m trying to build that structure so i think today maybe some of these lower branches can come off finally yeah so not the most attractive tree in the world but hopefully it’ll get get there someday i’m looking at the tree now trying to come up with a plan of action of future development [Music] yeah there’s quite an ugly wound here it’s kind of bulged out and i’ve got to decide i don’t think i want a branch that low eventually i’m going to put these three trees together so this is the height of that lowest branch here and on my smallest one it’s the lowest branch is even higher so i think i want to get rid of this branch [Music] i think the major problem with this branch is just too straight it doesn’t have any movement or change of taper it doesn’t look very miniature so if i keep these branches i’d have to cut them back well i’ll cut that one back for starters it’s just too i mean it’s absolutely straight until here so i’ve i’ve gotta cut it back i’m thinking somewhere about here maybe even a little higher right here here i go like that so i’m going to take this lowest branch off i just feel it’s too low so here i go [Music] like that and then there’s quite a bulge here i don’t know if i can do a whole lot to clean that up you know i would have to take a huge section out of the trunk i might have to do that i don’t know it’s starting to heal over that initial cut is starting to heal over here i’ll show you a close-up of that here’s a look at that first scar here so it’s healing over in this area but it’s quite quite a bulge from any other view and you can see the huge scar up here too where a large branch was taken off it’s starting to heal over also but still not a really nice feature on the tree yeah so i don’t know like get rid of all this bulge part here where there’s other branches coming out it would require some major major surgery so the question i have to ask myself can i live without bulge there as the tree goes a little thicker will this bulge improve no i don’t think it will so i don’t think i would i mean you can put that wound to the back you know back here so you can’t see it so much but i think i’d better carve it out and try and get that wound to heal over a lot nicer than it is at the moment so here i go i’m going to start the process carving it away because this wound will be at the back anyway so yeah you can see there was one two three four branches coming from this one spot and that was probably when it was in the ground so these trees just grew up all by themselves in the front garden a seed must have landed and they germinated and grew into elm trees from those big ones we had in the backyard that probably seated the ones in the front a wind like today probably blew the seats to the front garden so the only thing that will heal a large wound like this is growth to the tree so you’ve got to let the top of the tree grow and that’ll cause the trunk to thicken and it’ll start callousing over but if your tree’s in a refinement stage where you’re just keeping it tightly pinched a wound like this probably won’t close over so it’s getting better and again this will probably swell up so i’ve got to go a little more concave here well that’s not too bad at least it’s flush now the wound and it’ll build a big collar around here and sort of like it did up top here which yeah may heal over someday or it may rot out the center of the tree and make a hollow trunk that’s a pretty big wound up top but you know so far this wood is really hard in here it’s not decaying much so maybe there’s hope for it all right without getting out a carving tool that’s about as good as i can make that all right well that’s one one bit of work done i’m going to start on the top of the tree next so you can see i’ve got a lot going on here i’ve got one two three four five six branches coming from basically one spot which is fairly typical on an elm um you get a lot of branches can you know spreading out from one spot on the tree and it probably will thicken up in that area which isn’t a problem at the moment because it’s quite slim here but i do want to thicken up this top and all this upper branch structure i may thin it out later on i’m going to just reduce the height of the tree at the moment and leave all this to grow um and again i need vigor in this tree it’s not bursting with vigor at the moment but it’s not weak either so yeah i’ll reduce the top of the tree kind of making a crown up here and that’ll probably be it for today just kind of getting that canopy back under control and then you know later on as the tree matures more i’ll start picking my branches in this area and possibly thinning it out a bit right here i go with the branch pruning up top so i’m looking at from the front or you know a possible front maybe here i’m going to take out up top here there’s two nice branches and there’s one up the middle i’m going to take the middle one out like that reducing the height um for this upright branch here there’s not much growing in this direction so this branch here the main branch is quite straight there’s nothing growing on this side so i’m going to have to reduce it and i’ve got to pick a point i think i’m going to go back to here so off goes the top like that and then i’ll prune it back this upper part here i’ll prune it back to there and this section back to here like that i’ve got some long straight sections on this branch like here it goes for quite a length without any change of taper or movement or anything so that has to be cut back so i’m going to go back quite severely to about here like that and i’ll do the same with the branch beside it here i’ll go back to here like that i’ll trim this branch back up here take the apex off here so this part of the trunk it’s really straight here i’m thinking i i have a branch back here i could prune it off there and develop this branch it would give me a change of tape or a change of direction so i’ll have to do that here i go like that now you can see there’s a bit of movement and taper in that branch now there’s a branch out the back here that’s getting quite long i’m going to prune that back and i think i’m going to take it back to here and trim the end off right to here bring this back this back this one back put some back hold on this one back to here there that looks better uh trim the top just shortening all these new shoots and that might be about it so there’s somewhere there is the front of the tree there’s an overall look at the tree i’ll rotate it around so you can see it from all angles so here i go sorry about the squeaky turntable it’s one of my old ones yeah so that’s what the tree looks like and we got it i think it’s improved today anyway i wouldn’t say it’s a great looking tree but it’s improved so on to the smallest tree now here’s a look at the smallest tree i’ll rotate it around so you can have a look at it here we go so there’s the huge cut at the back here so that’s it so again there’s kind of a big long straight section on this branch the upper part is quite nice though but i think i’ve got to reduce this branch back so i’ll start with that um i’ve got to shoot out the front here which could be the new branch leader or i could do a hail mary cut here and see what happens so here i go i will or yeah if i if i prune it to this one it would be too straight still so off it goes like that and i’ll prune this one back like that so now i’m at the crown of the tree i like i’ve got this straight part here i’ve got a division here so i could prune that top part off i will the straight part to there i’ll prune these back shorter like that i’ll prune this branch back shorter and to here just reducing everything back all these new shoots i’m going to take this back to here like that now i’m wondering if it’s still too straight in this section i’ve got a straight section here and a straight section here i think i’m going to prune it back further i’ve got a butt on this side which would be nice to have something coming out this side so i’m going to prune it off here like that [Music] a little drastic but uh it needed to be done i’ll place all the trees together so we can get an idea of what they look like in a group of three here’s the three trees together and i can’t get them close enough because the pots are quite large but maybe you can kind of get an idea of how they kind of look together so they’re all kind of a similar age a similar styling on them so i think they’ll match with each other quite nicely i think i’d probably have you know number two closer and behind the first tree and then number three maybe in the background between them or off to the other side i’m not sure but yeah so that will come one day they’ll be back as a group of three it’ll be interesting yeah from uh humble beginnings these things uh they’re starting to look like trees a long way to go on them to get them really refined and looking good but we’ll keep working on them over the years it’s quite a cold day here today it’s well below freezing we had snow this morning so it’s not repotting weather yet that’s for sure it’ll be another probably a month before i can start the repotting process so let’s head indoors now and do some indoor work and i can warm up my hands

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