New Mexico’s trash tree, the Siberian elm....progression

Hartinez

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The Siberian Elm, that ubiquitous, funky, half dead tree on every corner and empty lot of not only New Mexico but a number of states. I was just reading that 25 states have it listed as an invasive and 3 states heavily regulate the propagation. In the 1930’s mayor Tingley of Albuquerque advocated heavily for its planting, creating some of Albuquerque areas first tree canopy. But once the trees began out performing and sniffing out other native species locals began to call these trees Tingleys Foley and its millions of seed pods Tingleys tears. I have multiple, huge trees around my yard and come spring they are a nightmare. I spend the better part of early summer pulling the seedlings from garden beds. At one point eradication in cities was considered, but many have begun to rethink there benefits. Abq and Santa Fe in particular would lose the vast majority of its tree canopy if it were not for these trees and in a time where droughts are lasting longer and water is more scarce, a tree adept to these conditions becomes more and more appealing.

for me, the large scale trees are a pain, but as Bonsai, they are a great way to practice techniques and wiring. They are very hardy and difficult to kill, but not impossible as I’ve killed several over the years. Mostly due to my aggressive timeline for work. and in many cases the entire tree does not die, I lose an important section and realize the tree is not worth regrowing key branches and toss it in the scrap heap. Over carving into the live vein seems to be what has killed most branches as every other siberian I’ve owned, I’ve carved extensively. While I’ve read that branches tend to die off here and there regardless, the current tree I have has not had that issue at all and so I didn’t entirely believe they are a lost cause for bonsai. On the contrary, there abundance, resiliency and overall characteristics make them great little trees. They just can’t be worked with the same rigor that I thought they could. Worked hard, yes, but not out of season and overly aggressive.

Ive had this tree since 2015, where it was dug from a dried Acequia near the Rio grande. It’s a great twin trunk that initially had at least 2” taller on each trunk. In design I’ve been shooting for a mother/daughOver the years I’ve shortened each trunk for proper movement and scale. I’ve also made lots of silly/rookie mistakes in its development.

mistakes
i should have chopped more aggresively from the get go.

I should have worked on the nebari much sooner.

a thread graft I started 2 years ago, died when I tried separating too soon.

thread grafting roots is STUPID and is not how you improve the nebari.

the positives.
The trunk and bark has began to really mature.

once the trunks were shortened to a better height, better looking crowns are beginning to form. And a proper scale for a twin trunk has taken place.

I’ve been able to wire great movement in to the branches.

the leaves are wonderfully small mid summer and the growth is vigorous.

plans for the future.

approach grafting the abundance of seedlings I have to improve the nebari, or work on ground layering more surface roots.

seperate current thread graft next early summer.

continue to ramify crown and continue to work on healing chops.

repot at an angle more condusive to a mother daughter design and so the trunks do not move away from the viewer.

Lastly, a question I have.

should I remove the bottom right branch on the larger trunk? I’ve got a rule following design at the moment and I was thinking that maybe removing that branch and wiring the twigs upward would give the design more of a natural feel.

spring 2017
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Winter 2017
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Spring 2019. The air layer didnt take
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early fall 2019
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Hartinez

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The tree today after defoliating. In need of wiring and trimming
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Tilted forward and to the left. I will probably go more in each direction when re-potting in spring.
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the crown of the larger trunk
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one of the nasty chops, that may heal over in 10 yrs plus time.
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Hartinez

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I’m going to wire out this tree over the next few days, but I was thinking of removing this branch. In order to expose the trunk a bit more while in leaf. Also, so the tree isn’t so unnatural for an elms natural growth habit. I would also wire out the branches so they go out and then up. At least that was my thought.

thoughts from you all?
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Wilson

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I’m going to wire out this tree over the next few days, but I was thinking of removing this branch. In order to expose the trunk a bit more while in leaf. Also, so the tree isn’t so unnatural for an elms natural growth habit. I would also wire out the branches so they go out and then up. At least that was my thought.

thoughts from you all?
View attachment 269823

View attachment 269825
I think it looks better without that branch, good call.
 

0soyoung

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It’s still there and haven’t removed it yet! But I’m certainly considering it!
IMO, it is SOOOOO straight. I'm betting you cannot get any real movement into it, but if you can, it might be worth hanging on to.
I think heavier lower branches would help the image, which might be something else to consider wrt keeping it or loosing it.
 

Hartinez

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IMO, it is SOOOOO straight. I'm betting you cannot get any real movement into it, but if you can, it might be worth hanging on to.
I think heavier lower branches would help the image, which might be something else to consider wrt keeping it or loosing it.
It’s incredibly straight, but fortunately plenty bendy still. enough to wire and add movement at least. I’m going to wire it, along with the whole tree and bend it up to see if it appeals to me more. It’s a branch that it is only 2 yrs in. At the very end of 2017 I got a bud at that location it it happened to make it through the winter. It seemed to have the perfect location for a future primary branch. So maybe my issue with it, is it’s immaturity and age.
 
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Hartinez

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You can really see the backwards lean of the tree in this video and how much I’m going to have to rotate, to get it sitting right in its next pot.
 

Hartinez

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Even up here the siberian breaks through asphalt and concrete, with complete disregard for the manmade world.
Equal parts pain in the ass and amazement of the natural world. When we’re all dead and gone, Siberian elms will take over the tree canopies and cities of New Mexico. Apocalypse Siberian elm now.
 

ponderingsage

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I love working siberian elms. Great practice trees. They are weed trees here in Boise as well. They are so vigorous that they can come a long way in just a few seasons.
Nice work on this one!
The ones I have collected seem to have few roots aside from the tap root, yet they carry on with little problem.
 

Hartinez

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I love working siberian elms. Great practice trees. They are weed trees here in Boise as well. They are so vigorous that they can come a long way in just a few seasons.
Nice work on this one!
The ones I have collected seem to have few roots aside from the tap root, yet they carry on with little problem.
With such an abundance here, I potted up quite few seedlings this summer and will work on approach grafting a better nebari in the spring. Don’t see why they wouldn’t take easily.
On a side note. I’m also going to start a root over rock style, but over a crushed die cast model car. Create a post apocalyptic type scene, where all that’s left is plant life. Siberian elm rules the day!
 

0soyoung

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With such an abundance here, I potted up quite few seedlings this summer and will work on approach grafting a better nebari in the spring. Don’t see why they wouldn’t take easily.
On a side note. I’m also going to start a root over rock style, but over a crushed die cast model car. Create a post apocalyptic type scene, where all that’s left is plant life. Siberian elm rules the day!
A model C1 Corvette like in the old TV show Route 66 would be apropo, IMHO.
 

Hartinez

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a car like that would be cool. But I’ll probably smash up The car a bit and rust it out some. Make it look like the tree has really swallowed it up. It’ll take time. But times all I’ve got. 🤷🏼‍♂️
 

M. Frary

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I'm slowly getting rid of all of the Siberian elms I have.
And I have a bunch.
For me the American elm is better.
 

Hartinez

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I'm slowly getting rid of all of the Siberian elms I have.
And I have a bunch.
For me the American elm is better.
As bonsai? Yeah I dont blame you. There’s just so dam many around here. I imagine though I’ll feel the same way at some point.
 
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