8-10 inches English Elm with big hole in trunk. The material has been grown for many years, building up good branch movement and ramification. However it’s not without its faults. The thing about ‘faults’ in bonsai material is that they can be made advantages if you can find a way of using the fault as a feature or rather as a way to tell a story about the tree.
The Elm used has some bad negative taper and empty space just above soil level. One possible way to improve this would have been to air layer above the negative taper part. Grafting on new branches low down would also be a way of eventually correcting the negative taper.
However if your fortunate to have better examples of the species in your collection then an argument could be made for trying something different…
Back in 1989, I was reading book on growing exotic fruits; I was eating a Pomegranate at the time and decided to have a go with some of the seeds. Following the book’s instructions the seeds were put on a plate and left on a windowsill to go mouldy. They were then planted and put the airing cupboard to germinate. Three or four successfully germinated and were then grown on in flowerpots for about a year. The soil was then washed off the roots of one of these seedlings and this was planted in the hollow of a rock that I had previously found. Two of the roots were threaded through small holes in the rock and one root was brought over the front. Then this was all put into a flowerpot and completely covered with soil. Gradually, over several years, the soil level was reduced to expose the roots as they thickened; eventually they split the rock apart. The rock the tree sits on today is the remaining part of the original rock.
This Lonicera clump was collected from a hedge at a condemned hospital in 1991. It was joined to a big trunked Lonicera which had fallen over and a large branch had rooted its self to the ground to form a raft. In the gap left after it had fallen it looked as though a lot of new sucker growth had sprung up and eventually fused together to form a tangled clump.
This Hawthorn was collected in 1990 from the side of a disused railway line. It was planted in a deep tub because most of the root I was able to get out with it was about 4 inches higher up the trunk than the soil level I eventually wanted
This tree was grown from a cutting taken in 1980 and planted to grow up the side of a house. In 1995 it had grown too large and it was decided to take it out. There was no care taken in digging it out as it was only afterwards that it was realized that it might make a good Bonsai. It had hardly any roots but this didn’t prove to be a problem, it budded up straight away and grew strongly all summer. Over the next five years, as the tree was being trained, any flower that appeared was cut off so that all the energy went into branch development.
The seed for this Alder was collected in the autumn of 1987, from a local tree, planted in standard seed compost and left outside to germinate. For the first three years growth was very slow. I decided to do some research into Alders and found out that they grew close to water. From then on I stood it in water during the summer and it immediately started to grow very fast. In the spring of 1992 it was planted in a washing up bowel, stood in a tray of water and fed every two weeks with Chem pack No 8. By the end of the year I was standing it in half strength Chem Pack solution and the growth was strong and fast. In the winter it was pruned back hard to create a good trunk taper. The hard pruning also had the effect of creating a lot of back budding which was also allowed to grow, the effect of this was to fatten the trunk up very quickly. This method of growing and pruning hard continued until the winter of 1997 when the first of the branches were selected and wired into place.