Chinese elm Drunken Sailor

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What would you do with this tree. Comments welcome.

It is a Chinese elm that has been lurching about without a firm plan for the last 6 years or so since the death of the original owner/artist. It was a tree in the ground until it was cut down and put into a pot about 15 years ago. It is very vigorous and yet has always had a very small, dark leaf.

It is of sentimental value to me as the original artist was a great friend and I am now glad to own it. His name was Max Candy.

The long branches were grown from buds over the last 5 years in an attempt to fill in the blank area on the lower right hand side.



Grant
 

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jk_lewis

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Is this, perhaps, not the best front? It looks to me that a slight turn to the left might give you a better look.
 

tmmason10

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looks like a very interesting trunk and base. You already know you have work to do on the right side and jkl is right a slight turn might be a better angle on the tree.
 

Bonsai Nut

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You have a good start. The biggest challenges as I see them:

(1) If you want to design it as a twin trunk, you need to look at the nebari and decide the best front based on the bottom 3" of the tree. For a twin trunk you don't want the daughter trunk coming out directly in the front of the tree - you want it to one side or the other. It doesn't have to be straight out to the side, but it should be clearly to one side or other.

(2) Both trunks have awkward straight stovepipe sections. You will want to resolve those.

(3) The primary branch on the daughter trunk is at the same level and directly across from the primary branch on the mother trunk. No es bueno :)
 

Vance Wood

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This is probably Siberian Elm, and I agree with a slight turn clock-wise.
 

PaulH

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I also agree that the front is on the right. It would be nice to see a photo from that side.
 

crhabq

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Vance,

If this tree was first field grown and has then spent 21 years or so in a pot, I'd think that the bark would be considerably more corky than this if it were a Siberian elm. Landscape Siberian elms develop quite a corky bark. I'd think that pot culture would slow down the development of a corky bark, but I'd expect to see some evidence of this in a tree of this age. IMHO, this is probably a smooth barked chinese elm.

Grant,
You are in a hard spot. To improve the tree, you would need to make some big changes. Addressing the stovepipe sections of the two trunks would almost certainly mean a trunk chop and regrowing new trunks. Not easy to do on piece that has sentimental value. The real choice, it seems to me, is to bring the tree to it's full potential in honor of Mr. Candy or to enjoy the tree, keep it healthy and safe, in memory of your dear friend. Best of luck in whatever you decide.

Ray
 

Attila Soos

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How about cutting a deep wedge-shaped incision on the left side of the trunk - our left side (it should cut the trunk, about 3/4 of the way, or more), and then bend the whole trunk upwards. When you bend the trunk this way, the wedge closes and the trunk can heal with minimal scar.This will create movement in the trunk. Later you can do another bend on the other side, same technique.
 

crhabq

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Atilla,

Thanks, wedge-bending maybe a better solution than trunk chopping. Don't know why that didn't occur to me. Guess two heads are better than one.

Ray
 

Attila Soos

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Yes, and the wood of the chinese elm can easily take this technique. Some species, such as azaleas, can only take a slight bend (may be 10 degrees, without snapping), but the elm can take at least twice as much). Conifers are the easiest, they can bend a lot.
 
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Thanks all, yes there are some great problems with this tree. I will trim back and do a few more photos and repost with some closeups and my thoughts. I am travelling the rest of the day so I will post in two days time.

Grant
 

Si Nguyen

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This is a nice tree! I see not much wrong with it except a little bit unkempt. The silhouette is a bit too wide for the width of the trunk. The horizontal branching clashes with the double trunk design a bit. I would just trim it back a lot and wire some of the branches up a little for a more natural deciduous tree style.
Good luck!
 

Ang3lfir3

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you should consider the "back" as a possible new front..... the nebari is very nice.... also this view has fewer distractions ... still concerned about the pitchfork-ness of the second trunks branching... have you considered pushing it out further with a jack and removing some of the branches to simplify it? Also that first branch needs some wire to give it some curves.... prolly wanna move a few branches around a little to get some more cohesion... but you can do that with guys wires prolly...

Lovely tree..... great material ... and good job...
 
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you should consider the "back" as a possible new front..... the nebari is very nice.... also this view has fewer distractions ... still concerned about the pitchfork-ness of the second trunks branching... have you considered pushing it out further with a jack and removing some of the branches to simplify it? Also that first branch needs some wire to give it some curves.... prolly wanna move a few branches around a little to get some more cohesion... but you can do that with guys wires prolly...

Lovely tree..... great material ... and good job...

Hi,

The back would be very difficult to use as the trunks all move significantly towards the existing front, plus I do prefer the roots in the current position as well. A hard trim back and thin out will yield some interesting results I feel. It is early summer here and the tree will go beserk with growth.

Grant
 

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