Pruning My American Elm Bonsai and Fruit Trees in the Orchard, Part 2, The Bonsai Zone, March 2021

Pruning My American Elm Bonsai and Fruit Trees in the Orchard, Part 2

In today’s video i’ll be pruning up my american elm making it more compact and selecting the branches i want to keep i’m standing back now having a look at the american elm and a lot of people describe elms as having a certain elm style to them and that’s described as like looking like a champagne glass uh or martini glass where you have the trunk coming up and then the branches fanning out so sort of like a broom style but more more of a sweeping feel to the branches so like an upright upright kind of feeling to the branches at that initial structure and then it forms a canopy on top so that’s kind of the style i’m going after we used to have some great big american elms in our backyard but they all died one year i don’t know if it was from some kind of dutch elm disease or what it was but i was sad to lose those but they had that that champagne glass style to them or that martini glass style to them so a lot of these branches it’s grown really well last summer this was kind of the first summer where the growth started to get really good on it i did a lot of root work down below so the tree was kind of getting used to its new root system growing new roots and last year the tree started gaining really good vigor and you can see that in the branches how much they’ve elongated you know in just that one summer there’s a better look at the elm now without the sun kind of shining on the one side so you can see the branch structure how it’s elongated so i’m going to prune it back today before i prune it i collect photographs of all the different species of trees and i have a folder on my computer for american elms and i’m going to look at that and i’m going to study it i’m going to see what makes an elm look like an elm and then i’ll try and you know copy or mimic that style in my miniature bonsai elm i think i’m losing my voice a bit i was doing so much talking this morning in the orchard that i can’t really talk that well this afternoon but i’ll try my best i encourage everyone to study the trees in nature nature is the inspiration for bonsai in the first place so if you’re pruning up an elm go study pictures of elms or go look at elms in nature and try and get an idea of what that elm-like structure looks like a typical elm you don’t have to copy it exactly but to keep that structure in mind when you’re pruning your bonsai and your trio look much more natural and more miniature too i had a look at the photos of elms in my collection i’ll show you some of those [Applause] you can see in the photos that’s kind of the style i want to develop is this upward sweeping primary branch structure and then sort of a classical broom structure on top so let’s get pruning i’m out front now having a look at the branch structure on my elm and you can see this one branch here is really thick and i’m trying to kind of equalize the branch on the left hand side here to kind of thicken up so it gives more of that upright structure to the tree so that’s i’ll have to prune you know this side of the tree back quite hard and let the other side grow longer to kind of help equalize that vigor i’m going to spin the tree around so you can see it from all angles there is a large pruning scar at the back this tree was collected from my front garden where it grew from a seed and i kind of did clip and grow on it for many many years uh half the trunk from about here was buried in the soil so you can see it doesn’t really have a lot of bark texture on it but that’ll that’ll come with a few more years i think it’s starting to get a bit of a cracking to it now but yeah there are some large pruning marks on it these elms grow really really rapidly in the ground i would be pruning it three or four times a summer quite hard and uh so the tree it’s about i’m trying to think how old it is it was in the ground probably for 10 years and then it’s been maybe four or five years out of the ground now it had one of the most horrible root systems on it when i first dug it out of the front garden i hadn’t done it i hadn’t done any previous route pruning on it and you can if you go back check the playlist on this tree you’ll see me take it from a really really rough course root system to something that’s getting quite acceptable now it’s starting to get nice root flare and a nice radial root base so that’ll help thicken up the base of the tree in the future it always had a bit of inverse taper it’s slowly disappearing as i develop that root structure and the tree grows so yeah check the playlist and you’ll see the development of this tree from very very coarse material to where it is now where it’s starting to well it’s starting to look more like a tree it’s hard to get a really good shot of the tree because the sun is shining right in the camera lens but hopefully you’ll be able to see kind of what’s going on up top here so i’ll rotate it around so here’s the front view coming around to the right view the back view you can see the big pruning scar here the left view and back to the front all right i’m going to start the pruning now i’ve got two branches coming off here and it’s already kind of thick in this area so i don’t want any more vigor in this area so i’m going to prune those right off those branches grew last season i’ve got a little one off to the side which isn’t too bad and another one here i i think i’ll keep those because i want something in this area probably a third trunk coming up to kind of fill in this space here so i’m going to keep this branch i don’t think i want this one no it kind of crosses in front of this one so that one can come off and i’ll prune this one off to an upward facing bud there’s one on top of the branch here or there’s another one on top of the branch here which will help get this branch more vertical it’s not at a bad angle now but it would be a little better more vertical so i’m going to take it off way back here so here’s my bud and i’ll prune just above that like that so this bottle will develop and it’ll grow a branch into this section of the tree there’s a branch on the inside here that’s developed i’ll take that off there’s also a little one here i can take that off just to clean up this area a bit i’ve got a hanging branch here and then i’ve got a more upright one here and i’ve got two branches right side by side here so i’ve got to pick one or do i could you see a feature like that on a full-size elm i think you could i and is it going to be a problem in the future maybe [Music] however they’re all nice branches i’ll take this one branches crossing everything here off like that another branch here that’s a bit tangled up i’ll get that growing more upright for now that’s not the greatest branch i’m going to take that one off now i kind of like this hanging branch here it’s got a lot of character to it definitely a feature on the tree that’s kind of a nice branch i don’t think i need the one above here so there’s two branches coming out from one spot i don’t think i need this upper one because i’ve got this branch here maybe i don’t know ah it’s a tough decision there i’m gonna come back to that it’s just too tough to decide which to keep there i’ve got a branch coming off the bottom here again you know it doesn’t really follow any rules but it’s a nice branch so i’m just going to prune it off shorter to there [Music] i could even go shorter on that i will i’ll go back to here that makes that branch nice and compact i can get some ramification here again you know i want this tree to look natural i don’t want to look like a priest preconceived notion of what a tree should look like i want it to have full of uh natural looking what some people would call flaws in a tree uh this hanging branch here i’m going to prune it back i’ve got a bud right here one here it kind of curves nice and then it kind of straightens out so i think i need some ramification about here so i’ll prune it here like that there’s one going straight up from that branch huh it’s such a weird feature i’m going to keep it i’m going to start reducing some of these branches in the upper canopy now all right so i’m up in the upper canopy here and what i’m looking for is just these new shoots these vigorous shoots pruning them back so they’re more compact to get more ramification and more movement to the branch change of taper change of direction so here’s one i can prune back to here like that another one i can prune back to here actually yeah right to there a bit of cleanup here that one to there to there actually i’m going to take i think i’ll take that one off totally yeah i’m going to remove this one i had some bar branches there this one doesn’t shade out this other branch here so much so that one had to go stump i can prune off here like that take the tip off here this one can be pruned back there this one there on a tree you want the basic branch structure to be fairly simple and get more and more complex and tighter inner nodes as you get out towards the outer canopy so right now i’m not after really tight inner nodes i’m still letting the you know the growth to be fairly long and as the canopy grows i’ll make that these branch lengths will get shorter and shorter and more ramified so that’s the look i’m after is that natural kind of ramification i’m just kind of shortening shoots for now and then i’ll come back and do more shoot selection you don’t want all these long straight shoots on your tree it doesn’t look very miniature i’ll take that one back [Music] there’s some good branch overlap here i’ve got a branch going underneath this other branch here totally natural and it looks okay but i’m not sure if i want to keep it or not but i doubt it i think i’ll take it out that’s just too strange a feature and that will get worse with age it’ll thicken up and become a problem so that comes out take that tip stub off i’ve got another one a branch overlapping here i think i need to take this part of the branch off here like that that cleans that branch structure up quite nicely there’s another branch here that kind of crosses all these other branches i think again that’s interesting but it’s going to become a problem in the future so i got to take it off i think this inner part here has got to be removed like that so yeah there’s a fine line you know between rules basic pruning rules and naturalism i try and keep anything that kind of looks natural that’s not going to become a big problem in the future here’s one i have three branches coming from the one tip here i’ve got one on top and then two lateral branches so i probably should prune that top one off but i’m not i’m going to shorten it to there some wild looking branches on this tree it’s getting very cold out i had to put my jacket on we’re supposed to get some cooler weather coming up now once it comes out and spring all the leaves i can go in and prune off any branches i think are dead like this top here i don’t want to take it off yet just in case it has some element of life to it but i don’t think it does there’s a branch here it kind of it’s growing underneath this part of the branch i want to do some kind of sorting out there i think i’m going to take this one off shorter to here and maybe this section back to here take this part of this branch off hopefully that’ll give each branch a bit of a bit of its own spot in the sun there yeah that cleans that up pretty good quite a long shoot here that could be reduced back this one too hanging branch here i could probably take back further tip off this one with some more there’s one here going back in towards the center of the tree i think i’m going to take that off that will become a problem off some of these little ones growing into in towards the inside aren’t a problem at the moment so i’m going to keep them okay i’ve got a lot of the branches shortened back now so now i’ve got to look at the overall styling of the tree and remove any branches that just don’t look good or aren’t in the right place so i’m going to go back to the front view and kind of study the looks of the tree i’m out front now i’ll just hold my hand so you can kind of maybe see this tree structure it’s hard to see with the sun glaring in the lens like that but hopefully there it’s without my hand and there’s with my hand so so that’s what i’m left with the structure of the tree so i’ll study it and then i’ll remove any branches that i just don’t like and don’t have really a future on the tree yeah somewhere around there is the front so i’m looking at the tree i’ve got a lot of interesting branches um now i’m looking for ones that really bother me like they just look totally out of place i have one that on this side you can see it crosses the trunk line behind it does that bother me not really would it look better without that crossing branch yes it probably would however that branch adds a lot of naturalness to the tree especially if i prune it up a bit more so this is where you kind of draw the line well would a tree grow a branch like that in nature and yes it probably would on a bonsai you know that would generally be something you would remove but i kind of like it i think it makes the tree look more natural so i’m going to keep that and it’s the kind of branch that you could always prune off later on if it started bugging you in the future you know as these branches thicken up maybe you’ll say oh i don’t like that anymore so you can prune it off then um so what else am i looking at you can see at the base on this side at the base i’ve kind of got a fork i’ve got two branches coming up from the one spot there again it’s kind of an unusual junction there of two branches but not perfectly natural looking so i’m going to leave that also i think my apex could definitely be better developed it’s uh needs something more and towards the center of the tree some branches so i’ll watch for those in future i might be a little high on this left hand side here let me just pan the camera up a bit yeah i might be a little high in this part to kind of get a you know a rounded canopy on the tree i’m kind of you know a dead spot in the middle and then i got branches each side so i think i’ve gotta prune that profile a bit more so i’ll do that all right how’s that look that looks better on the left hand side now i’ve got to do the same for the right alright so i’ve done some pruning up top that helps it’s a little more rounded looking on top i think i think it’s getting close i i think i’ll let the new growth come in up top and then possibly mid-summer i’ll have to do some kind of hedge pruning or some profile pruning and then you know once it’s bare again in winter we’ll tackle the structure once again but i could definitely use some growth in the middle of the tree so i’ll watch for that branches kind of growing up the center of the tree and start letting those develop now but yeah i i think i think everything else is fine on the tree it certainly looks natural it doesn’t look contrived i like that i like the tree to look totally natural look just looks like a miniature tree it grew like that i’ll spin the tree around now so you can see what it looks like from all angles so here i go [Music] and back to the front this elm is one of three american elms i have growing as a bonsai and my plan is to eventually put them together in a clump of three trees in a it’ll probably be a fairly large bonsai pot i think they’ll look really good together so i think tomorrow we’ll get out the other two trees and prune them up and i’ll start i’ll put them all together on the bench here and we’ll have a look kind of what they look like in a group so that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone

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