English Elm at Chelsea May 2011

Here is a short photo history of a Bonsai English Elm tree that started out as a root sucker from a mature Elm tree that was cut down in the winter of 1968. The tree was felled not because of any disease at that time but for a new housing development. The resulting felling caused a massive onset of of growth to form from the main trunk at ground level and this was the beginning of how this root sucker then became a bonsai tree.

The parent English Elm tree in 1968 prior to felling that produced the root sucker that was collected in 1969.

The root sucker was collected in 1969 and was placed in a wooden box to allow it to develop on. During the early years of bonsai it was rather trial and error but this Elm thrived on the treatment provided which was heavy feeding, and annual repotting in addition to a meticulous pruning regime to create the branch structure as opposed to wiring and to get the ramification that is now there today. It was a while before it was ready to show and it’s first outing to a show was around 1998 to 1999.

1981 the beginnings of the English Elm bonsai tree take shape

The English Elm (Ulmus procera) is part of the Ulmacea family and the genus of Ulmus and is a broad-leafed  tree species. It thieves in most soil types and has winged disc like seeds, with a very characteristic shape which is clearly visible in the landscape when mature. Its shoots are downy and the leaves are oval or rounded, acute and rough above. The leaves are also sharply double toothier and appear earlier than those of the Wych Elm. However, there are few remaining mature English Elm trees today due to a disease that caused widespread decline of Elms and resulting felling of them in the early 70’s. The autumn colour is yellow, but the tree rarely produces seed and the preferred option for regeneration or propagation is that of suckering. Elms make excellent bonsai, whether you go for the English Elm, Wych Elm or even the Chinese Elm, they tend to have a small leaf size and respond well to pruning.

Autumn colour of the English Elm in the 1980’s

Early days of training the English Elm as a bonsai in the early 90’s

First show for the English Elm Bonsai in around 1998-1999

English Elm at the February 2012 Swindon Winter Image Show

The following are a selection of photos taken in March 2012 showing the various elements of the Bonsai tree in more detail as it is now.

Main trunk of the English Elm with an excellent nebari

Close up of the branches of the English Elm showing great movement and taper

The small English Elm leaves that are vibrant green when first flushing

Up close view of English Elm leaves

English Elm bonsai as it is today in 2012 starting to come into leaf