Chinese Elm Over Rock

The Chinese Elms have been getting some burnt leaves over the summer. I’m guessing it could be that the soil is too fine, and isn’t providing sufficient aeration to the roots, and the trees weren’t getting enough moisture from the roots. Since Chinese Elms can be treated like tropical trees, I’ve decided to repot them to help with the roots development.

Chinese Elm Ready for Repot

I have a rock lying around for years, I couldn’t find a good tree to put on it, so I’ve decided to put this tree over the rock, to see how well it wraps around the rock. One thing I don’t like about Chinese Elms is that they tend to have one or two thick roots rather than developing a radial nebari around the base of the tree. Even though these are all started from cuttings, they still have one or two fat root(s). Luckily, the orientation of the roots aligns properly to the crevices of the rock. I wrapped the roots around the rock, and then tie the roots in place. The hope is that eventually the roots will develop around the roots and tightly wrap the rock. The larger grain soil and the colander as the pot will help the roots develop much faster than before. Over the next few years, I’ll gradually reduce soil level, forcing the roots to harden as it gets exposed to the sun.

Chinese Elm Over Rock


Wiring Shimpaku Juniper

Earlier this year, I’ve decided to air layer the Shimpaku Juniper. I didn’t do much to the tree other than repotting it into a bigger pot. The Shimpaku has since put out a lot of roots, so I’m pretty sure the tree up top will survive. I’ve decided to work on the bottom tree a bit, such that it’s not too unsightly. Although the branches still maintained some of the form I put in a few years back, it needs some refinement.

Shimpaku Before Wiring

I wired the branches and moved the them into place. The goal is to form foliage pads that allow the viewers eyes to follow the trees movement to the apex.

Shimpaku After Wiring

I’m pretty satisfy with this arrangement.  The composition has both bones (branches) and meat (foliage pads). Shimpakus branches don’t thicken very fast, so I can leave the wires on the tree for quite a while, probably revisit it again next Spring.

Initial Styling of Apple

This apple tree was acquired from a farm April 2016, after a year in the ground, I’ve now got it in a colander. The new buds on the apple tree are very prone to aphid attacks. So I wanted to reduce the foliage a bit, and to find the actual tree in the bush.

After inspecting the tree in detail, my original plan of having it as a windswept tree won’t work well. This is due to the fact that it has a very straight trunk with no taper. I’ve decided instead to just make it a slanted tree. The trunk will display pretty amazing tapering, and I’ll end up with a big stump. A big stump is good, since I can always grow out the branches, and the branches will be of proportionate size, making it more compelling as an ancient tree.

I first marked up the cut line using chalk, then proceeded to cutting with a reciprocating saw. The saw makes quick work of the pruning, but one would have to be careful not to let the blade run astray.

After some big cuts, I applied cutting paste to the exposed cambium, then just let it sit on the branch to recover. Doing heavy pruning in mid summer is probably not a good idea… but I have a feeling the tree will handle it just fine. Come next spring, I’ll do more pruning to whip it more into shape.

A Proper Spot For The Trees

As I accumulate trees over the past few years, they’ve been just growing off my stone patio. I’ve always had the false assumption that the kids would enjoy playing on the grass rather than on the stone patio. Turns out they like to play the on patio more than the grass. The logical next step would be to move the trees away from the stone patio, and take some room from the grass. Since my backyard is a bit slanted towards to the back of the backyard, I had to level the bench by either adjusting the number of cinder blocks, or digging into the ground. Eventually, I was able to create a bench that’s perfectly leveled. This two step bench is where I’ll be putting my trees on. My goal is to not acquire any new trees unless I’ve sold/give away/thrown out trees to make room for new trees.

Bonsai Bench


There are a few small trees which I over-potted in hopes of them growing more vigorously. But a small tree in a big colander often left the medium too wet, and as a result, the tree suffers. Today, I repotted two trees into a smaller colander. My hope is that the reduced amount of soil would allow the medium to dry more quickly, and as a result, promote the tree to put out more roots.

I first started with the Japanese Maple. I originally potted the tree very low in the colander, forcing the roots to go radially rather than downwards. This plan worked well, as the tree has a very radial and flat nebari. I simply trimmed some roots off the rim, painstakingly rearranged the roots so that there are no overlaps, and then potted it into a smaller colander.

The second tree is the Boxwood. Boxwood are very slow growing trees, especially so when grown inside a pot. For the past two years, the tree remains largely the same size. Some nice roots have developed. Similar to the Japanese Maple above, I arranged the roots nicely, before potting it into its new (much smaller) colander.