From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

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From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

Post  David Brunner on Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:13 pm

Having just finished the first big spring trim on this Ulmus parvifolia, and enjoying the bright green of its new foliage, I thought you all might enjoy seeing it; especially those of you that are still enduring cold and snow.

I’ve had this tree for a dozen years. It was a gift to me soon after I took up bonsai in earnest. The great spreading oaks of the California coastal hills were the inspiration for the current design. I hope I have come close to evoking their calm grandeur. It still has a ways to go before I will be satisfied, but I hope you enjoy the image achieved to date.

It started out life as one of those mass-produced “mallsai” that seem to have been trained by coiling a seedling around a pencil. In a dozen years together, this little tree has taught me a lot about bonsai, horticulture, and design. Thankfully, the tree has been a longsuffering and tolerant teacher. I hope to continue to be taught!

David Brunner


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Re: From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

Post  David Brunner on Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:15 pm

Here is the same tree from 1998 not too long after it was gifted to me and after my fist pathetic attempt at turning it into something of interest. I was trying, not very skillfully nor aesthetically, to create the image of a lightning struck tree. I’m sorry for the dreadful picture. I don’t have an image of the tree as it was originally, but it was even worse than this – sort of like pompoms on sticks attached to a coiled rope…

To move toward the present image, I removed everything except the bottom two branches the upper of which became the new trunk line. The rest was grown up over the following years using clip-and-grow almost exclusively.

David Brunner


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Re: From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

Post  Smithy on Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:56 pm

You've done a great job with that. It shows even with material your told should be thrown away, you can get something really good with a bit of time and patience.Well done.

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Re: From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

Post  John Quinn on Sun Feb 28, 2010 10:30 pm

David, that's a very pleasing image! Nice work!

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Re: From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

Post  sixhunter on Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:39 am

affraid i dunno wat to say man ^^

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Re: From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

Post  mike page on Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:26 am

David, you've done a great job with this tree, especially considering what you started with. There's only one thing that bothers me. It's the branch on the top that moves up to the right at a 45 degree angle. I did a virtual removal of the branch and filled in with foliage. What do you think?


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Re: From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

Post  Rob Kempinski on Mon Mar 01, 2010 2:56 am

You made a great choice severalyears ago to chop it hard. That's a good lesson there.

mike page wrote:David, you've done a great job with this tree, especially considering what you started with. There's only one thing that bothers me. It's the branch on the top that moves up to the right at a 45 degree angle. I did a virtual removal of the branch and filled in with foliage. What do you think?


Probably time to chop again. I really like Mike's virtual. Greatly improves the image of the tree.

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Re: From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

Post  David Brunner on Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:07 am

Thank you all for your kind comments, and special thanks to Mike for the suggestion for improvement and the virtual. It certainly is something to consider. I like how it takes the movement of the image to the left. As I indicated, this tree is nowhere near “done” (may never be...) but it certainly has been fun!

David B.

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Re: From Mallsai to Bonsai? Perhaps...

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