General Chinese Elm Styling

ConorDash

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Hello,

Having done some pruning of 3 chinese elms this weekend, there are a few things that come up and I wanted to ask about.
Its 1 thing to have read a lot about pruning, styling, etc etc, but its another to do it yourself and I find myself not knowing which to keep and prune.

For starters, on places where more than 1 branch come out, I know that this is not good. It creates a bulge of growth which is ugly later on. So for example this:

2 branchs CE.jpg

They are not on top of each other, but still coming out of the same node, so would you say to chop one? They are both fairly big branches and developed, so it was difficult to make a decision, but if you think a decision SHOULD be made, I'll chop one. I don't think I'm shy about removing big bits, as painful as it seems, I understand the need to do these things and the tree be ugly so that in 2-3 years it can be better.

Aside from that, these pics are from after pruning away a good bit if dead branches and branches growing in to one another. I believe there is still more hard pruning to be done but I simply don't know which. I have ringed in red some of the bits which I think I should remove, thinking of how their leaves would add to the shape (or not, in this case).

XgEIP28.jpg oCzzlJg.jpg 1sjPXT9.jpg ekF62Gj.jpg

I like these elms, (there is another next to 1 of these which I didn't do pics of ), I think they have a good bit of branch development but I don't know whether it is good enough to keep or worth doing over again. Plenty of buds all over, all dead ones have been removed.
I'd appreciate any thoughts, opinions. If you simply wanted to take a pic and scribble red rings over stuff you'd remove, it'd provide an insight :)
 

ConorDash

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And what follows is just a little example, to maybe those more beginner about checking if a branch is dead or not. The ol'd scratch and sniff!

Here is a branch that I thought is a good demonstration:
qVzqdNg.jpg

The red ring shows a snap in the branch. The 2 green rings are where I scratched.

9CMJyEL.jpg 6kem0Dt.jpg

As you can see, the last pic shows the dead end of the branch, clearly no green cambium at all, branch is brown bread.

The second pic is the top half, green ring, you can just make out the green cambium from the pics (sorry pic quality, iPhone).
 

Bonsai Nut

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When evaluating your tree, always start at the base and work up:
(1) Is the nebari good? Does it suggest one side or other is better suited as a front for the tree?
(2) Is your trunk line good? Are there awkward bends or long straight sections that need to be fixed? Does one side or other indicate a better front for the tree?
(3) Are your primary branches in the right spot? Are there any bad or awkward branches?

Right now I think the primary issue to resolve is you have a double apex. You need to decide which you will keep for your design. If this were my tree (and given only one angle to look at) these are cuts I would consider:

XgEIP28.jpg

Also I wouldn't worry about die-back at this point. Just prune the tree and see where all the growth is in two months. If you scratch up the bark too much, you may find that you are creating the die-back you are looking for :)
 

M. Frary

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When evaluating your tree, always start at the base and work up:
(1) Is the nebari good? Does it suggest one side or other is better suited as a front for the tree?
(2) Is your trunk line good? Are there awkward bends or long straight sections that need to be fixed? Does one side or other indicate a better front for the tree?
(3) Are your primary branches in the right spot? Are there any bad or awkward branches?

Right now I think the primary issue to resolve is you have a double apex. You need to decide which you will keep for your design. If this were my tree (and given only one angle to look at) these are cuts I would consider:

View attachment 134697

Also I wouldn't worry about die-back at this point. Just prune the tree and see where all the growth is in two months. If you scratch up the bark too much, you may find that you are creating the die-back you are looking for :)
I like it but I would probably take the right top down to the next biggest branch. The one that goes to the left
 

Bonsai Nut

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I like it but I would probably take the right top down to the next biggest branch. The one that goes to the left
Yeah either one would work. Depends on how tall you want your final tree to be. You just have to decide one or the other path to go down...
 

Anthony

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Conor,

before randomly removing branches, what should the finished tree look like ?

Have any drawings or photoshopped images, or any means of knowing what you hope to achieve?
Good Day
Anthony
 

sorce

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I like it but I would probably take the right top down to the next biggest branch. The one that goes to the left
Me too...

Ditch the one with the the panties tied around it...looks like a Mudman had a great time!

And ditch the entire blue tiger stripe branch too.

Sorce
 

sorce

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Oh...I'm talking the earlier fork.

Sorce
 

ConorDash

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Me too...

Ditch the one with the the panties tied around it...looks like a Mudman had a great time!

And ditch the entire blue tiger stripe branch too.

Sorce
The panties LOL.
That's just a bit of raffia, don't ask why its there, I was experimenting with something. But looks like it is no longer needed if I may cut it off entirely.
 

ConorDash

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When evaluating your tree, always start at the base and work up:
(1) Is the nebari good? Does it suggest one side or other is better suited as a front for the tree?
(2) Is your trunk line good? Are there awkward bends or long straight sections that need to be fixed? Does one side or other indicate a better front for the tree?
(3) Are your primary branches in the right spot? Are there any bad or awkward branches?

Right now I think the primary issue to resolve is you have a double apex. You need to decide which you will keep for your design. If this were my tree (and given only one angle to look at) these are cuts I would consider:

View attachment 134697

Also I wouldn't worry about die-back at this point. Just prune the tree and see where all the growth is in two months. If you scratch up the bark too much, you may find that you are creating the die-back you are looking for :)
Thank you for the advice.
Those are good questions to ask. I don't know if it is just me that finds it so hard to comprehend. I couldn't pick a front of the tree. I know it would relate more to what the tree is telling you, is its front but I still can't see it at this stage of my bonsai career.
This tree in particular doesn't really have any nebari to speak of, the other 2 (1 thicker one pictured above) have better nebari. I quite like the other one pictured in here, thicken trunk, better nebari and just looks better to me at the moment.
Ill have another look at that tree and see how your cuts would impact it. I could just do what you say of course, and I trust your advice but its important to me that I know why the cuts at made, otherwise I won't be able to learn to do it myself in the future.

Certainly agree on the double apex thing, I never saw it.. Kinda disheartening really. It all seems so straight forward once its pointed out and dumbed down.
 

Cattwooduk

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I agree Conor, you can watch a hundred or a thousand videos by loads of people with different levels of experience on how to prune a tree... until you pick up the cutters and look at your own tree it looks incredibly easy!
I'm hoping to find time to start snipping away at my Yew I picked up soon - it's about 3 foot tall and has a thick trunk that branches into loads higher up so there is going to be LOTS of decisions to make. I'm dreading it as much as I am looking forward to it!
 

ConorDash

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I agree Conor, you can watch a hundred or a thousand videos by loads of people with different levels of experience on how to prune a tree... until you pick up the cutters and look at your own tree it looks incredibly easy!
I'm hoping to find time to start snipping away at my Yew I picked up soon - it's about 3 foot tall and has a thick trunk that branches into loads higher up so there is going to be LOTS of decisions to make. I'm dreading it as much as I am looking forward to it!
I know the feeling.
I dislike asking for so much advice on this forum really, makes me look like I'm not trying but its not easy! I don't mind trying things, just hard to try things you aren't certain about, on material that you like.

Got an air layered pyracantha with 0 potential. Ill try anything on that lol.
 

sorce

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Amen!

And your threads have great info on them!

Just remember too....
It's a Chinese elm!

So that whole thing about, "you can't glue it back on", really doesn't apply !

Sorce
 

ConorDash

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Amen!

And your threads have great info on them!

Just remember too....
It's a Chinese elm!

So that whole thing about, "you can't glue it back on", really doesn't apply !

Sorce
Funny enough, what did you think the "one with the panties tied on it" was? Lol. It had some split bark coming away and I wanted to see if simply tying it back together, over time, would knit it back up and be good as normal.
I assume that would work, as much as fusing branches do and grafting.

That's what this forum is for Conor.
It will get easier the more you do. Just like anything else you weren't born knowing how to grow a bonsai.
Thanks. Its sometimes easy to lose sight of that when you get drowned by all this stuff you didn't know. Or worse yet, thinking you did know it, till faced with actually doing it! :oops:
 

Cattwooduk

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I also think it's good for more experienced members and maybe some of the 'experts' to explain the simple shit to us newbs - going right back to basics reminds you of what it's all about I guess.
I used to enjoy mentoring apprentices when I did welding because I got to go rethink about why I was doing things a certain way instead of just doing it. Reinforces what you already know!
 

LanceMac10

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It's an Elm, scarecrow the thing!!! Although I would grow it some more to get a little bit more trunk. It'll get bigger quicker if you thin out the crown to one leader and let that grow like crazy. I wired the tips of the two lowest branches up higher than the crown so they would be the strongest growers. I'll put it in a small pot soon and start to figure some kind of suitable branching.
 

ConorDash

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View attachment 134973


It's an Elm, scarecrow the thing!!! Although I would grow it some more to get a little bit more trunk. It'll get bigger quicker if you thin out the crown to one leader and let that grow like crazy. I wired the tips of the two lowest branches up higher than the crown so they would be the strongest growers. I'll put it in a small pot soon and start to figure some kind of suitable branching.
That's a cool idea, wiring the low ones up high to take advantage of the apical dominance, to fatten them up?
But if you do, wouldn't that leave the fatter lower branches, pointing up instead of towards the direction you'd want?

Yeh this elm has a bit of a thin trunk, but the other 2 are nice and thick. So I was kinda thinking of keeping this slender trunk, and going a different direction, as I have the other 2 for fat trunks.
So would you just cut the thing down to barely anything then let it grow wild for a season, see what it gives you?
 

ConorDash

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Sometimes I go even farther.... look at all those buds!

View attachment 135039

For what it's worth... same tree this evening just starting to bud...

View attachment 135041
It was almost as if you said it went from that pic to that, in 1 evening! Lol.
How long did that progress take?
I love the texture of the trunk, mossy.
 

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