Chinese Elm

grouper52

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I was snapping some photos of this tree today to capture the beautiful beginning of the fall colors, and decided to post it for some feedback about ideas I've had lately.

It's a field grown CE I got from Brussles about 9 years ago, I think, one of my few trees to survive the climatic hell of Taos, New Mexico, where about half the branches died, resulting in the deadwood seen here.

The first photo is its current configuration, but there are things I'm not happy with, hence the other photos exploring some options. (Some of the foliage obviously needs trimming/refinement, as well.)

The second photo shows a slight rotation counter clockwise, which is starting to appeal to me.

The third shows the tree virted into an antique Chinese pot I'm thinking of transfering it to this spring, which I think is a better match than it's current pot.

The last two photos are virts showing attempts to remedy the tree's main problem, which of course is the three legged nebari it sits on. One option is to simply bury the tree a bit deeper in the soil, ( and perhaps coax some new nebari at the new surface) seen in the first virt. The last photo/virt, on the next post, shows a more radical approach, removing the two small "legs", and also then reducing the deadwood a bit, and perhaps the beginnings of a re-working of the foliage to lend a bit better balance to the image without the legs.

I'm curious to hear comments about these ideas, or any others you may have.
 

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irene_b

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Can you post some pictures of the back (other front) for viewing.
Irene
 

Dav4

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I like the tree alot, and I'm not bothered by the nebari at all. I don't see a '3 legged nebari', but I do see an attractive, powerful trunk with a hollow that is nicely anchored to the soil by a spreading nebari. I think if you can bring the foliage down and in tighter to the lower trunk, particularly on the right side, you will have a killer tree. How tall?

Dave
 
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I like the tree alot, and I'm not bothered by the nebari at all. I don't see a '3 legged nebari', but I do see an attractive, powerful trunk with a hollow that is nicely anchored to the soil by a spreading nebari. I think if you can bring the foliage down and in tighter to the lower trunk, particularly on the right side, you will have a killer tree. How tall?

Dave
Grouper, Dave has exactly my idea on the nebari, etc. Your deadwood is great and just needs some refinement. The base is dynamic and muscular and has some fantastic style to it. To bury it or remove some of it would seriously damage the value of the tree.
 

anttal63

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hey pal there is a uniqueness and farther potential in this tree that make some rules and regulations VOID! good luck with it. i dig it!
 

grouper52

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Thanks, everyone, for the input.

The tree is 20" from the soil.

Here are views from the back, left, right, and the little "legs" from front and back.

When I got this tree about a decade ago, I was just getting serious about bonsai, and the leg-like nebari looked "neat" to me back then. But over the years I go through phases where they more or less bug me, or I think they are perhaps poor form for a "real" bonsai, or some such second guessing. On the other hand, I agree that they give the tree much of its character, and without them the tree seems poorly balanced. There are times, especially after I put it in this slightly tall and small/tight pot last winter - after it fell and broke its previous pot - that I think it looks like a lion sitting up, and my wife and I refer to it as "The Lion" (my only tree with a name!).

It is good to get your support and validation to keep the legs - I kind of want to, and don't really see a satisfactory solution otherwise. Thanks. Other opinions/suggestions still appreciated.
 

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Thomas J.

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It looks to me to be the perfect material for a chinese penjing. The only problem being the white deadwood if that's what I'm seeing. I know the Chinese don't use this as part of their style. All the same though it will still work good.:)
 
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If the "legs" bother you that much it's easy enough to camouflage them with a stone or some other artifice.
 

irene_b

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The other front is not bad either ;)
Irene
 

grouper52

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It looks to me to be the perfect material for a chinese penjing. The only problem being the white deadwood if that's what I'm seeing. I know the Chinese don't use this as part of their style. All the same though it will still work good.:)
If the "legs" bother you that much it's easy enough to camouflage them with a stone or some other artifice.
Thanks, Thomas for the input - it gives me some ideas, and Chris' post was right along the mental road I was going down. I think I may try a few more virts over the next few days, using some trays, rocks and mud men I have: should be fun! Thanks, you two for the ideas!

grouper52
 

grouper52

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I only had about a half hour of good photography light left when I got home this evening, so this is a rather unrefined, quickly-thrown-together compostion - Ying rock, handsome 3", circa 1910 mudmen, and the elm under discussion still in its pot, thrown into this large, too deep pot with old used soil piled up as filler. With more time, a flatter pot/tray/slab, more interesting topography, better surface soil dressing, some moss and small plants, better matching Ying rocks, and this might look really nice - but even as it is it looks rather pleasing and promising, I think, and the rock solves the nebari problem.

grouper52
 

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JasonG

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Hi Will,

Good seeing you the other week at the convention... sorry I couldnt chat long, I had somewhere to be...

AS to your tree, to me I think I like your current "back" as the new front.... it looks like the tree comes to you and seems that the foliage looks better from this angle. This might make branch positioning easier than your current front.
But then you throw in the penjing and I like that as well. I think on a nice shallow slab it would look very cool and be something very unique. I like the big pot ( I bought one of them too!!) but not for this composition.

Good thing about these elms is you can really hammer the roots, (ok hammer might not be the best choice of words but you get the idea) with little to no ill effect. They throw roots like crazy!! So getting it into something shallower shouldn't be too big of a deal.

I look forward to seeing which way you decide to go with this one.... the tree is awesome in either setting.

Jason
 

grouper52

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Hey Jason!

Great to see you, even if only briefly, at the convention as well. I poked my head in the workshop, and you looked very impressive up there guiding the person in their tree's future. I had a great time going down and back with Dan as well. Didn't see Rich, but hope he was able to make it.

Thanks for the input on the CE. They are such great trees, and I agree about their robust ability to root and survive treatment that would set other trees back years. I even had the thought yesterday to shift this tree back and forth each year - transfer it into a little penjing scene each spring or fall (or BOTH!) for some photo ops, and the rest of the year in a regular pot, playing the part of a regular bonsai. It would probably not miss a beat with such treatment.

All the trees I got from you at OB are doing great, BTW, and I've just been waiting for the winter dormancy to begin working on some of them to bring them to the next phase. Early spring will be a busy time with them as well, and I hope to post some updates here then.
 

irene_b

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I only had about a half hour of good photography light left when I got home this evening, so this is a rather unrefined, quickly-thrown-together compostion - Ying rock, handsome 3", circa 1910 mudmen, and the elm under discussion still in its pot, thrown into this large, too deep pot with old used soil piled up as filler. With more time, a flatter pot/tray/slab, more interesting topography, better surface soil dressing, some moss and small plants, better matching Ying rocks, and this might look really nice - but even as it is it looks rather pleasing and promising, I think, and the rock solves the nebari problem.

grouper52




WOW!!!!!!!


I love it!
Mom
 
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The back looks good but for my money, the deadwood is a fabulous feature of this tree that is completely lost on the other front.

Will,
I was thinking more along the lines of an interesting small rock under the "legs" or even something more or less treelike (bark, deadwood, etc) to make the entire span the nebari.

I like what you did with the mudmen and rocks except that they really cry out for a much shallower pot. That and the fact that I am not a big fan of them with such a major tree.
 

wtp omen

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i'm no expert, so here's a noobs opinion for all it's worth;

i'd personally fill that hole by placing a rock or something in there (maybe find a nice rock and place it in there at the next repotting to become a somewhat permanent feature of the tree) and fill in the smaller gaps around the rock with moss. or you could not bother with the rock and simply mound up some soil and cover it with moss, leaving the 'legs' growing over the moss.

alternatively you could plant a different, small plant in there. some ground cover with shallow roots and compact growth, to fill that hole. and keep it trimmed so you can still see the 'legs'.
 

grouper52

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i'm no expert, so here's a noobs opinion for all it's worth;

i'd personally fill that hole by placing a rock or something in there (maybe find a nice rock and place it in there at the next repotting to become a somewhat permanent feature of the tree) and fill in the smaller gaps around the rock with moss. or you could not bother with the rock and simply mound up some soil and cover it with moss, leaving the 'legs' growing over the moss.

alternatively you could plant a different, small plant in there. some ground cover with shallow roots and compact growth, to fill that hole. and keep it trimmed so you can still see the 'legs'.
Those are alternatives I've played with over time, but so far I've just left it as it is.

Here's the latest after some winter styling (trees here do fine with almost any sort of work in the winter since the dormancy is neither long nor particularly deep - many of mine of all sorts of varieties are currently sitting there with swollen or even partially open buds that will usually stay that way the next several months before making their final push for leafhood):

http://bonsainut.com/forums/images/attach/jpg.gif
 

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Mooseman

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Those are alternatives I've played with over time, but so far I've just left it as it is.

Here's the latest after some winter styling (trees here do fine with almost any sort of work in the winter since the dormancy is neither long nor particularly deep - many of mine of all sorts of varieties are currently sitting there with swollen or even partially open buds that will usually stay that way the next several months before making their final push for leafhood):

http://bonsainut.com/forums/images/attach/jpg.gif
I love the way the dead and the living parts of this tree intertwine and sort of dance together. A harmonious combination. Nice one grouper52.
 

irene_b

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Those are alternatives I've played with over time, but so far I've just left it as it is.

Here's the latest after some winter styling (trees here do fine with almost any sort of work in the winter since the dormancy is neither long nor particularly deep - many of mine of all sorts of varieties are currently sitting there with swollen or even partially open buds that will usually stay that way the next several months before making their final push for leafhood):

http://bonsainut.com/forums/images/attach/jpg.gif
Don't ya just love what these can tolerate :D
And I love that Pot!
Mom
 
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