Chinese Elm Mallsai

Redwood Ryan

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Hey everyone! I'm new to this forum, just not to bonsai. I am glad I got my account working. And glad to see some old friends from other sites.

After I posted this I noticed there were other threads that had the same name as this one :p Sorry!

Anyway, I recently purchased this Chinese Elm Mallsai. Horrible condition. I just wanted to practice on it. I repotted it and everything. I was thinking about trunk chopping the tree at about the red line. Or should I go lower and go for the blue line? I know now isn't the time for it and to wait until the spring to chop, but I just wanted ideas. It's a typical S curved mallsai elm. But I hope that that one low branch down there toward the chop will grow and I can train it to be the new leader. Any tips, advice and comments are always welcome!

Where I want it chopped:


After Repotting:


Nebari I found:


Thanks!

Ryan
 
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Redwood Ryan

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A pic of the whole tree would help!!

The second pic is the whole tree. It just shoot straight out. It doesn't go any taller or anything. But I guess I could show a little bit more.

There is not much else needed to be seen:

 

Bonsai Nut

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Air layer it if you want another tree :) Seriously elms air-layer so easily in two months you'd have a second tree to work on.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Air layer it if you want another tree :) Seriously elms air-layer so easily in two months you'd have a second tree to work on.
I was thinking about doing that, but was unsure of where to air layer at. The trunk curves quite a bit and there is a mess of branches, so I didnt know where to start.
 

rockm

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Seriously, now is EXACTLY the wrong time to air layer this tree. If you don't have a greenhouse that stays above freezing in the winter, the air layer is pretty much doomed. If you bring the newly rooted plant inside, it will probably not get enough light, be subject to the driest air of the year (interior humidity levels in wintertime are drier that Death Valley).

I'd simply wait until net spring to do anything with it.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Yes I know now is not the time to air layer. I didn't say I was going to. I know to wait until spring. I was asking where to air layer it.
 

treebeard55

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Before you decide to chop or air-layer, I suggest something else. Consider a change of planting angle, even as drastic as more than 90 degrees different. You just might see something you like!
 

Redwood Ryan

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Yes that is a good idea planting it at an angle. Thank you.

Where would I even air layer on this thing? The trunk curves so much and I would have to break off a branch or two to find an area to air layer at. Unless I do it really low, around where the white string is on the trunk in the first picture.
 

treebeard55

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Ryan, here are a couple of quick-and-dirty virts.

The first is what you might do with a change of planting angle. For this, I flipped the image of your tree roughly 80 degrees to the right.

The second shows where I would suggest an air-layer, if you choose that route. If it were me, I'd put the air-layer at the orange zone. That leaves a few low branches (yellow arrows) to sustain the lower part and give you something to start building with; it also leaves some movement in the low trunk.

Give it some consideration. These may stimulate your own thinking, if nothing else. :)
 

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Redwood Ryan

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Ryan, here are a couple of quick-and-dirty virts.

The first is what you might do with a change of planting angle. For this, I flipped the image of your tree roughly 80 degrees to the right.

The second shows where I would suggest an air-layer, if you choose that route. If it were me, I'd put the air-layer at the orange zone. That leaves a few low branches (yellow arrows) to sustain the lower part and give you something to start building with; it also leaves some movement in the low trunk.

Give it some consideration. These may stimulate your own thinking, if nothing else. :)
Thank you Treebeard. I am a huge fan of that first picture with the cascade look. I will probably end up going that route since that looks great. I just need to figure out how to go that way with this thing......
 

Redwood Ryan

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So I'm wondering where to start with that first one. I suggest waiting until the spring and then removing a lot of the branches as shown. But to get that cascade would be difficult since the trunk curves quite a bit. How would I start about doing that?

Thank you!

Ryan
 

treebeard55

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Ryan, yes, I would wait until spring to take action. Altho you can certainly be studying the tree now, familiarizing yourself thoroughly with the good and bad points.

The first step would be to repot at the new planting angle. Once you do that, many things will be easier to see, like which side makes the best front, and which of the existing branches will, or may, work in the new design and which will have to come off sooner or later.

Even tho much more will be clear then, I'd wait to do much in the way of branch work until the tree recovers from repotting. Remember, too, that once the planting angle changes, some foliage that was in sun will be shaded by other parts of the tree, and will decline naturally.

I really can't say much in the way of specifics, since I can't see your tree in person; can't look at it from different angles, peek in among the leaves, and so on. For specific advice, if you want it, I would go to your local bonsai club and start picking the brains of the old-timers! :D

Or, if you get the chance, take the tree to a Styling and Refinement workshop; that sort of thing is a priceless opportunity, if the teacher is a good one.

I hope this helps, and is all clear enough. I just got up, and my first cup of coffee has yet to kick in. (Where's the smiley for "groggy?")
 

Redwood Ryan

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Ryan, yes, I would wait until spring to take action. Altho you can certainly be studying the tree now, familiarizing yourself thoroughly with the good and bad points.

The first step would be to repot at the new planting angle. Once you do that, many things will be easier to see, like which side makes the best front, and which of the existing branches will, or may, work in the new design and which will have to come off sooner or later.

Even tho much more will be clear then, I'd wait to do much in the way of branch work until the tree recovers from repotting. Remember, too, that once the planting angle changes, some foliage that was in sun will be shaded by other parts of the tree, and will decline naturally.

I really can't say much in the way of specifics, since I can't see your tree in person; can't look at it from different angles, peek in among the leaves, and so on. For specific advice, if you want it, I would go to your local bonsai club and start picking the brains of the old-timers! :D

Or, if you get the chance, take the tree to a Styling and Refinement workshop; that sort of thing is a priceless opportunity, if the teacher is a good one.

I hope this helps, and is all clear enough. I just got up, and my first cup of coffee has yet to kick in. (Where's the smiley for "groggy?")

Thank you for the info Treebeard.

It is very clear. The tree is recovering very well from the repotting. It is already shooting off with tons of new growth. I'm going to just let it grow uncontrolled for a little bit. Would you recommend me waiting until the spring to even change the planting angle? I see the nebari your virt has, and my tree's is not like that. It could look strange.

Also, the tree sort of starts to bend upward at the very far end you want to cascade. How could I fix this?

And I would love to go to a bonsai class but the only ones close to me are D.C. and Richmond. D.C. being 1-2 hours and Richmond being around 4 hours.

Thanks!

Ryan
 

treebeard55

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Ryan, yes, I would wait until spring to change the planting angle. The growing season is winding down, and you repotted not too long ago.

The nebari in my virt was drawn in, of course. You would have to work with actual nebari, after repotting, to develop something you like. Roots can be wired and positioned, altho you want to handle them more gently than branches, of course.

No club nearby ... best substitute I can suggest is an on-line study group. Bonsai Vault forum has four on-line study groups, including one for shohin that is just getting organized. The leader will be John Romano. Your tree looks to me like it would be shohin-sized, so you'd be eligible if there are places left.

I'm involved in the other three SG's -- pines, yews, and maples -- and so far it's the next best thing to a formal class!

My suggestion <look around furtively> is to register at Bonsai Vault, and apply for one of the spots in the Shohin Study Group.
 

rockm

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"And I would love to go to a bonsai class but the only ones close to me are D.C. and Richmond. D.C. being 1-2 hours and Richmond being around 4 hours."

If you're in Gainesville, your best bet in the area is Gardens Unlimited in Ladysmith (actually Ruther Glen, but it's off the Ladysmith exit on I-95)--between Fredericksburg and Richmond. I live in Fairfax. It's an hour drive for me. I'd say it's about a two hour drive for you.

The owners of the bonsai nursery have exceptional material and give classes. I've been doing bonsai for almost 20 years in the D.C. area and been to all the bonsai nurseries around-from Philly to N.C. This one's at the top of my list.

All of the pictures on this site are from Gardens Unlimited--unless noted as the National Arb:
http://www.rappahannockbonsaisociety.com/
 
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mcpesq817

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I'll put in a good plug for Gardens Unlimited too - they have great stock there, and the owners are very nice people.

Not sure if you know, but the Potomac Bonsai Association (umbrella organization for DC/MD/VA clubs) puts on a three-day show in early May at the National Arboretum. Well worth going to.
 
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