Chinese elm, re-design

Out of a group of similar trees:

I bought this tree in Vantaan Viherpaja for 49€:

The tree as a whole was not anything exceptional to my opinion. It had the boring S curve which looked more than unnatural. The branches were I think grafted as they somehow looked as not growing from the tree but rather sticked into it. What I was interesting in was its girth and nebari:


The plan was to cut out the rest of the tree. Many advised to cut all above the first branch to the right and make the branch a new leader. The branch was way too stiff to allow any bending and I somehow liked that first curve, didn’t want to give it up. So I decided I cut after the next branch 🙂 :

On the back was another small branch which I thought to make a leader but it fell of during my process of cutting. The upper part was supposed to be finished with Van Meer technique.


I tried first to carve out the inner part of wood with carving bits I had but they showed to be bad for this purpose so I continued by hand. Some parts of the process are visible in the photos:



The inner part removed with “flaps” left to cover the whole. I got tired in the process so I didn’t manage to create a better taper I planned. It was also difficult to find the fine line between removing cambium and not removing enough so that the “flap” would bend and fit into place without ripping off the whole part of cambium and bark. I wonder if this technique work with trees whose bark is very hard or thick. It is most probably my inexperience.


After “deciding” this is enough I bent the “flaps”:



The technique tells I should cover the flaps with a mesh and fix them on their place. I got an idea which will show if it was fatal for the tree or not. Perhaps I made a mistake, perhaps not, perhaps there is no difference. I though give it a shot. I used super glue and glued on couple of spots the flaps to the inner part of wood.
My logic (perhaps not the correct one) was the following: If the inner part of tree is not the most active one in growing like cambium, phloem are and if this is the end of the tree (not much should grow from it directly in the middle part it shouldn’t have a problem if another “dead” part of the wood is fixed to it. I was careful to be sure that the parts I am glueing are not uncovered cambium as I assume that would make the cambium not very functional on that place.
The coming period will show if this made it worse, kill the tree or just make the whole process unsuccessful. One mistake I did do. When one does a new technique for the first time and with such inexperience as myself he/she shouldn’t add another “moving” variable (glue) into the process as it is not clear any more because of which part the process failed. Nevertheless, now it is done 🙂
For the finish I covered the wound with the tape so that drying reduces:

A week later…

After a week I got some growth, and even on the top edge where I lost a new leader:
In this photo I removed also the one and only “old” branch left on the tree in the previous process. I received a suggestion from more experienced bonsai:ers (can you say it like that?!) to remove the branch if not inside the design. I though of removing it but needed another push to materialise it.

After several weeks…

…of growing the tree looked like this:
To me it looks getting ready for the nest step.
During these weeks I kept an eye on levels of moisture in the soil on different depths. Because the pot is very deep the lower half of the pot is constantly wet. I have a feeling that the grower moved the tree from the ground into the pot not long before selling and that the lower part just don’t have or have very little of the roots so they can’t suck out the humidity from it. The basic over-potting scenario which I don’t like it. Seems I need to repot it though I thought keeping it for a year in it to have more soil to extract nutrients from.


The following photos are result of re-potting:



End result

The tree should be potted a little bit deeper, the left root is too visible, too much above. Also the roots were on quite long thicker “wires” so I will have to shorten it in time. This time I didn’t remove too much of it as it is the first re-potting for this tree and I am just hoping it will survive…I don’t see why it shouldn’t but there is always some danger.
The first ~10days the growing slowed down substantially, it is located in the balcony where is now nice and warm, in the shadow slightly waiting for recovery of re-potting and then hope for strong growth.
I will leave the branches extend as much as they wish before I cut them down substantially. I am satisfied with the amount of branches, there is a lot to choose from 🙂

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