No idea how to style this tree

Yecartmannew

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Hi everyone

I'm new to bonsai, this is my first tree. It was given to me as a Christmas present.

It's inside for now but will be going out in the spring and will then stay as an outside tree. It's on an east facing kitchen windowsill as all the west facing ones have radiators under them. It seems to be quite happy so far, in fact it is starting to grow new shoots.

Thing is, I have no idea what I can do with it style wise. I dont think it'sa very good specimen technically. From what I have read it's proportions are all wrong. It is 23cm high, 12.5 cm to first branch and the trunk is 2 cm diameter. Added to which all the branches are on the same side of the tree and it's nowhere near triangular shaped.

Given that though, my husband bought it for me and I'm strangely attached to my strange little tree so I'd rather not chop it down and hope for back budding as 1 person suggested!

So, if this we're your tree, what would you do with it?
 

Forsoothe!

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If you go to the upper right hand corner and click on your Icon, you can add your location and people will be able to customize advice for you. If it's a Juniper it won't outlive winter in the house.
 

Yecartmannew

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Thank you. I thought I had attached photos, obviously not!
I have updated my location and zone too.

It's a Chinese Elm, apparently 12 years old.

Here are some pics, hope it works this time.....
 

Forsoothe!

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0 for 2. Try formatting to .jpg, 5" x 6", 116 dpi, and clicking on the image between the chain link looking thing and the smiley face on the header, and drag your image into the box that shows up.
 

Yecartmannew

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I'm struggling as I am an android phone. I will try to find a way to reduce the file size and see if that helps.
 

Yecartmannew

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Perfect.

Right. I thin I prefer pic 2 as the front of the tree. I was thinking that when I eventually re pot I would re set with that view facing.
 

Michael P

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By bonsai aesthetics this tree is a hot mess. But many first trees are! There are several drastic things that could be done: chopping, air layering, using the top of the tree with all the branches on one side as a raft style. These are somewhat advanced techniques.

Since this is your first tree and you are attached to it, use it to learn basic techniques. The first one is how to keep it alive and healthy. It is an elm, probably a Chinese (lacebark) elm, and elms are easy. Except in very cold climates, Chinese elms are grown outside all year round. Your tree is not in normal winter dormancy so you may not be able to put the tree outside right now if the weather is below freezing. Please put your location in your profile, it will help us give good advice.

Tell us more about your climate and what conditions the tree was kept in before you got it. Good luck!
 

Yecartmannew

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Thanks Michael

Sorry, I thought I updated my profile. I'm in sw England by the coast so zone 8 I believe.

Tree was sold as a 12 year old Chinese Elm.

I think it will be hardy outside all year but since it arrived at Christmas in full leaf I think it's probably been kept inside. Because of this I currently have it inside on an east facing windowsill where it seems to be happy (New shoots are growing).

Once the frosts are over it will go outside permanently.

I understand that really the answers are quite drastic but since my husband bought it for me 1. I don't want to risk killing it with drastic action and 2. I think he would be upset if I chopped it in half, and 3. As you saw I am quite fond of the quirky little thing.

I'm pretty sure this is my first tree, not my only tree! So I think I shall do as you say and not try to force it to be something it isn't.

I will practice all the basic techniques on it and hope I can keep it alive.
 

Michael P

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That makes sense. Your tasks until spring are to water it properly and give it as much light as you possibly can. Is there a south facing window you could use?
 

Yecartmannew

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Unfortunately not. The other options are a small north facing window ( not enough light) or west facing windows that get slightly more light but they all have radiators under them so the temp varies a great deal.

The kitchen windowsill it's on seems the best bet. I'm sure it won't be long until we get some milder sunny days so I shall put it out for a bit on those days.
 

sorce

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As long as the new foilage doesn't die, I'd leave it where it has grown.

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

PA_Penjing

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For a "first tree" and a chinese elm bonsai I think this tree is great. All I would do right now is try to keep the tree healthy and growing. It is lending itself to the "literati style" or "bunjin" (in Japanese). Look up photos and research the literati style while the tree adjusts to a new environment. If it's growing strong this late spring/early summer then I'd think about removing branches and wiring others. That's just me, I happen to like literati chinese elm. Chopping this tree down makes zero sense to me, the trunk is so thin that you'd be left with a 3" tall tree. Do whatever you want of course. I like it, I see why you would to. Take advantage of the winter to read all you can about bonsai care. It's really good to stare at a tree for a long time before you act, I have been doing it for years and still hate to make any decisions before I've owned a tree for a year. my first impulse never seems to be what I do later. Granted ... I kind of don't a natural inclination toward the art. Others around me (far more experienced) can scan a tree for 1 minute and pick a route that I didn't see yet.

To explain my chopping comment, usually a trunk is drastically pruned after it has attained a thickness close to the desired end result
 

Yecartmannew

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Thanks guys

Leaving it where it is untìil it can go outside properly seems to make sense, rather than moving it around too much.

I see what you mean about literati style. Looks like my tree might want to go that way and it would suit it's quirky wonkyness!

I agree about being patient. I spend quite a bit of time just really looking at it. Being on the kitchen windowsill helps I think. I sometimes find I have been standing there 10 minutes after I finished washing up ! And watching the new leaves appear is fascinating. I think because it's in "close up" like the camera has zoomed right in. I've never studied my other plants so closely.
 

Shibui

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I would be happy with that tree as a first bonsai.
Your problem with the style probably stems from the crowded top section. i think there is just too much going on up there for the eyes to be comfortable with. On top of that there is the very real prospect of that part of the trunk where many branches are close together thickening excessively. We generally try to only have 1 or 2 branches close together on the trunk.

Start with branch 3 (up from ground) It appears to come toward the front. You also have a rear branch and one above filling the space. Consider removing branch 3 to make space for the others (but not until you have explored my next ideas as changing the front could make a big difference to which branches are better and which should go)
Top section: I count 7 branches, small and large, growing from the top of the tree. The upper branches (apex) also appears to be leaning away from the chosen viewing angle. Bonsai appear much better when the apex is slightly toward the front. Consider the opposite side as a 'front' - photo of that side please? In any case I think several of those branches could go without leaving big holes and the remaining branches will then be able to fill out and develop better.
There is one branch right near the top on the right that appears to be very awkward - side shoots at the end are at right angles and up/down. Consider replacing that one with a nearby better formed branch or twisting it so the side shoots are more horizontal.
 

Yecartmannew

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Great ideas
Thank you.

You are right that branch 3 comes toward the front and is so far.just a stump so I was already thinking of taking it off
There is no new growth on there.

I chose that side as the front as it has a little bit of a nebari going on while the other side has nothing but actually you may be right about the branches coming to the front. Here is the other side of the tree .

back of tree.jpg
 

Underdog

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I'm pretty sure this is my first tree, not my only tree! So I think I shall do as you say and not try to force it to be something it isn't.
Good advice given above. I only want to add how easily Elm cuttings will root easing your mind about removing excess branches that can become future trees. More trees please! LOL Enjoy the journey.
 

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