Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

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Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Tue May 31, 2011 3:34 pm

Hi gang,

I have had this old seiju elm as my stock tree for cuttings that has been in a container for somewhere close to 40 years now. Since I'm no longer propagating plant material I think it's time to do something with it. I did do some air layering of it higher on the tree this morning just to get the final batch of trees off of it. Once those are rooted I'll want to cut it down and start making something out of it. I'm not sure of a design or final size for it and thought I'd put a pic or two of it up to get some outside input. The tree is 3.5" diameter at the base so something in the range of 18-20" I guess would be arout right.

any thought's ?

Randy


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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Russell Coker on Tue May 31, 2011 4:19 pm

Nice one Randy!

Looks to me like the trunk and main branches have a gentle, natural movement - then it's all shot to hell by lack of taper in those branches. I think you wave a wonderful start on a broom-ish, realistic looking elm. I'd get rid of at least 3/4 of that top and take it back to a basic framework, then grow it back out from there.

Great material!

R

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Tue May 31, 2011 5:20 pm

Russell,

I agree that most of that top should be removed. Since reading your post, it occured to me that the main structural branches are perfect for an African Savana style tree. I've always loved the look of those trees when I see them. I'm sure If I cut it back I should get some good new growth to make a quite realistic looking tree and the small leaf of Seiju would make a perfect fit with that particular style. I'm not good at doing virtuals but this should give an idea of what I'm think'n at at least for now anyway.

R

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Jesse on Tue May 31, 2011 5:32 pm

I agree with your rough virt. That will look nice.

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  bonsaitree on Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:33 pm

As an "African" bonsai grower I would like to suggest that the style you refer to is called the Bushveld style. What seems to be suggested in the virtual dwg is a Pierneef style, which is characterized by a more umbrella like canopy. I do not think the elm will be as suited to this style as it would the Bushveld style.

You can take a look at the Pretoria Bonsai Kai website for some images: http://www.pretoriabonsaikai.org/index.php/trees-a-styles/african-styles.html also take a look at their galleries for inspiration.

Charles Ceronio, a member of their Kai has published a very good book on bonsai styles of the world. He also covers the African styles which will give you really good guidance on styling a tree to achieve that uniquely "African" feel.

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:45 pm

[quote="bonsaitree"]As an "African" bonsai grower I would like to suggest that the style you refer to is called the Bushveld style. What seems to be suggested in the virtual dwg is a Pierneef style, which is characterized by a more umbrella like canopy. I do not think the elm will be as suited to this style as it would the Bushveld style. quote]

Terry,

Thanks so much for the link. It's nice to have some point of reference. You are right, that the style that i'm going for is the Pierneef, but modified some from the image in your link with the crotch of the tree lower. I'm curious what actual plants you folks in Africa use for the Pierneef style and why you don't think a Seiju elm would work.

Randy

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Old seiju elm

Post  moyogijohn on Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:12 pm

Randy,,my opion only,,i think your elm willwork great in that style... i looked at the africa post and your tree can look like that picture... make it work..take care john

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  bonsaitree on Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:04 am

Hi Randy

Well one is entitled to ones opinion and mine is that the image of the Acacia tree in either the Flat top or Pierneef styles is so strong that any other species might look a little strange. I cannot recall ever having seen any other species used for these styles. Horticulturally I am sure you can get the elm to grow in this fashion but in my opinion just because you can does not mean you should. I am not sure if it will conjure up the same emotions which were written about earlier, of the African savanah. However its your tree and you need to look at it every day so of course it is your decision. If it were mine I would rather do something like the Bushveld as I think it will be more convincing.

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:22 pm

bonsaitree wrote:Hi Randy

Well one is entitled to ones opinion and mine is that the image of the Acacia tree in either the Flat top or Pierneef styles is so strong that any other species might look a little strange. I cannot recall ever having seen any other species used for these styles. Horticulturally I am sure you can get the elm to grow in this fashion but in my opinion just because you can does not mean you should. I am not sure if it will conjure up the same emotions which were written about earlier, of the African savanah. However its your tree and you need to look at it every day so of course it is your decision. If it were mine I would rather do something like the Bushveld as I think it will be more convincing.

Terry,

Let me first say, I respect your opinion and often find myself the same with some specific design styles and the plant material used to execute them. One that always drives me "nuts" is styling a broadleaf tree like a maple into a style that was evolved from the natural shape of some pines. I guess it’s the "horticulturists" in me that comes out as I view the subject bonsai. The opposite ends of the spectrum are those whose focus is more inclined towards “design or shape imagery and execution” rather than horticultural accuracy and both have their merits. You’re absolutely correct that this elm would be missing some of the distinct attributes of the Acacia (Acacia drepanolobium, whistling thorn) of your part of the world. Most specifically the thorns, the smooth surface of the trunk and branches and leaf shape to be horticulturally correct. But from a deisgn execution perspective I think it could be done convincingly enough for most non-horticultural viewers. I am however working on another project that would most likely meet your requirements with some American native plant material. I have in work a Gleditsia triacanthos (American honey locust) that is in the same family (fabaceae) as your Acacia and has the thorns and smoother bark and leaf shape which will look more convincing for the Pierneef style indeed. It's a small tree in the ground that I'm training now and I sure hope I live long enough to see it to completion.

Randy

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Russell Coker on Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:28 pm

bonsaitree wrote: Horticulturally I am sure you can get the elm to grow in this fashion but in my opinion just because you can does not mean you should.

Terry, I agree with you 1000%. Randy, I think you're wasting a nice piece of material - but it is yours to do with as you please. I guess if you have plenty of material to experiment with....

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:55 pm

Russell Coker wrote:
bonsaitree wrote: Horticulturally I am sure you can get the elm to grow in this fashion but in my opinion just because you can does not mean you should.

Terry, I agree with you 1000%. Randy, I think you're wasting a nice piece of material - but it is yours to do with as you please. I guess if you have plenty of material to experiment with....

Russell and Terry!

lol, lol, lol!!!! I find you guys entertaining!!!!!! This is an exercise in design style Imagery not horticultural accuracy. I have another larger seiju in the ground that will probably come out next spring, another 10 in the ground growing and 3 being airlayered from this one. I think I have pleanty of material on hand to play around with. Besides, if it doesn't work, it can always be modified into some other design style in the future. For me, plants are never wasted, only time and effort to experiment. If you don't experiment with new ideas, things never change and gosh that would be a bore.

ta ta guys,
Randy

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  coh on Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:52 am

The "African Savanah Style" that you are talking about reminds me of the Monterey Cypress trees I've seen in California. They have very similar structures and I've been thinking about trying to recreate that in a bonsai. Here is one example from a photo I took in Monterey:



You can find many others by googling "Monterey Cypress".

I've got a false cypress (chamaecyparis) that might have the proper trunk/branch structure, like your elm. Gonna think about it for another month or so before making any cuts. Please keep us posted if you take this route with the elm.

Chris

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:56 am

coh wrote:The "African Savanah Style" that you are talking about reminds me of the Monterey Cypress trees I've seen in California. They have very similar structures and I've been thinking about trying to recreate that in a bonsai. Here is one example from a photo I took in Monterey:

I've got a false cypress (chamaecyparis) that might have the proper trunk/branch structure, like your elm. Gonna think about it for another month or so before making any cuts. Please keep us posted if you take this route with the elm.

Chris

Chris,

That would be another distinct possibility that I had not thought of. I like the shape of the tree in your picture which is rather untypical for Montrey Cypress. I think your Chamacyparis would be an excellent choice of material to use for this application. Chamacyparis pisifera would be the best choice in my mind.

Randy

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  coh on Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:15 pm

Hi Randy,

Yes I agree, most of the monterey cypress trees don't have such a "perfect" form, though I saw many that exhibited the general characteristics of the pictured trees. Unfortunately my last trip to the area was before I became seriously interested in bonsai, so I don't have any other good pictures. However, California has been very inspirational - I used to travel there for work once or twice a year. We were based in Monterey and I spent a lot of time hiking around there and down through Big Sur. I'm currently working with a couple of coast redwoods (early stages but growing well) and a giant sequoia. Since I won't be getting back to California much, I'm hoping to have a little California here in NY!

It is chamaecyparis pisifera that I'm considering. Bought it last fall (on sale, great deal) after seeing a beautiful formal upright bonsai earlier in the year. Trying to learn how it grows before doing any work. I don't think it has the basic branch structure to be a good formal or informal upright but am waiting to see if any new growth sprouts along the trunk before committing to a direction. I've read that they are not prolific back budders and so far that seems accurate. Have you worked with them at all? Any advice?

Chris

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:26 pm

coh wrote:Hi Randy,

Since I won't be getting back to California much, I'm hoping to have a little California here in NY!

I've read that they are not prolific back budders and so far that seems accurate. Have you worked with them at all? Any advice?

Chris

Chris,

Being a native of the SF bay area and only being here in the mid-west for the last 10 years, I too yearn to have some Californian in Kentucky.

Yes, Chamacyparis pisifera definately does not back bud on old wood at all. You'll also find that it is a bit tricky to work with even when you have good green foliage to work with. It is a bugger when it comes to pruning and forces one to think "light management". If your pads get too full of foliage you'll be suprised at the end of the season with the inner foliage turning brown and dropping off of the tree. It's a natural habit of C. pisifera to drop foliage that gets inadequate light. While good bonsai can be made from the material it takes a good long time to experience the trees needs and work with them effectively. It's not a tree for the beginner for sure. If I was going to pic plant material for your intended design, I would give preference to Juniperus Chinensis Blaauwii (Blue shimpaku). It's relatively easy to find in the bonsai community, it grows more upright than other shimpaku's and has the blue tinge to the foliage like Montrey cypress. It also has the braded foliage like the Montrey cypress. It's far easier to work with, and any instructional information for Shimpaku juniper would apply to it so there is a wealth of information to be had.

Randy

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  coh on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:22 am

Thanks for your thoughts, Randy. I have already seen the effect of lack of sunlight on the interior...when I bought the tree last fall it was filled with dead foliage in the middle. Obviously hadn't been pruned all year and maybe even was shaded by other trees/shrubs. Cleared that all out, wired a few branches to allow light to penetrate and it seems to be responding well. I haven't done any pruning yet and am wondering what you mean by It is a bugger when it comes to pruning and forces one to think "light management". The interesting thing is that there was a lot of small growth (looked like from backbudding) along the trunk that had died off from lack of light. I wonder if it can push some more of that.

I'm definitely going to experiment with this tree and will probably try the cypress style. If it doesn't work the tree can always go in the ground in the garden. Will keep your suggestion about the juniper in mind. I've also considered boxwood as potential material for this style...have a pot full of individual boxwoods that are all rather tall and skinny. It would be a somewhat different effect but I bet they could be coaxed into that style, maybe as a little grove like in the picture I posted.

Chris

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:43 pm

coh wrote: I haven't done any pruning yet and am wondering what you mean by It is a bugger when it comes to pruning and forces one to think "light management". The interesting thing is that there was a lot of small growth (looked like from backbudding) along the trunk that had died off from lack of light. I wonder if it can push some more of that.
Chris

Chris,

Pruning for light management is the process of pruning foliage for light penetration into the inner parts of the tree. In the case of Chamaecyparis pisifera it's crucial that this be done consistently during the growing season. The specifics are difficult since we don't know the cultivar of your tree and their are hundreds of cultivars which are pruned differently depending on the type of foliage. In general the cultivars with the Juvenile foliage type are the most likely to defoliate if you don't prune right but they all will do it eventually. That means that your foliage should short to force side buds and then the pads should be thinned to ensure light penitration into the inner foliage canopy. Light management also means that you need to pay attention to the placement of pads relative to each other to get good light to each pad. It also means that you should provide a place where good strong light is avaliable and turn the tree every couple of days to ensure that the entire tree gets good exposure to the sunlight.

Randy

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  coh on Sat Jun 11, 2011 7:11 pm

OK, gotcha...for some reason I was interpreting "light management" as "not doing too much pruning", not the management of sunlight penetration into the canopy. Makes sense now.

BTW, it is a boulevard cypress. I'm not sure if the foliage type on that is considered juvenile?

Chris

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Fri May 25, 2012 1:52 am

All,

Well it's been a productive beginning of the year for this old elm. I was finally able to remove the air layers from the tree and repot them and the tree this past spring and watch it grow out. Well, today I finally was able to do the first level of styling the tree into what I think resembles the "Pierneef" style. I spent bit of time just looking at the artwork of Jacobus Pierneef and tried to capture 3d essence of his work in this tree. It's too bad you have to look at in 2d as it looks much better in the "bark" (didn't think "flesh" applied for a tree). If your at all intrested, I have incuded a link to a google image search of Pierneefs work so you could take a peek. Certainly was fun thus far and the next 2 years of further development will prove to be fun as well, I'm sure.



Google images for Jacobus Pierneef
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=south+african+artist+pierneef&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1024&bih=540&wrapid=tlif133790634882810&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=s9S-T-LMOcXbgQeBg9y6CQ

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  dadshouse on Fri May 25, 2012 3:19 am

Looking great Randy. ThumbsUp

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Andre Beaurain on Fri May 25, 2012 11:25 am

Looking great Randy!

Definately on its way to a Pierneef bonsai, Your canopy is a bit to round still and to thick, its should be thinner and more flat..... Painting by Pierneef himself.

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Fri May 25, 2012 1:19 pm

Andre Beaurain wrote:Looking great Randy!

Definately on its way to a Pierneef bonsai. Your canopy is a bit to round still and to thick, its should be thinner and more flat..... Painting by Pierneef himself.

Andre,

Thanks for the kind comments. It means alot to me comming from someone living in the South African environment that sees it for real. On the canopy, I agree with you that it's still a bit round but it will fill out and be changed over time as it grows out. I hope that it will grow enough over the next 2 years or so to be far more convinsing than it is in this very, very rough stage. There are some other images of Pierneef's paintings that are closer to the design that I've chosen so there is some latitude in the style type yet retaining the immediate recognition that it's in the Pierneef style. At least in my mind anyway! lol

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  coh on Fri May 25, 2012 2:16 pm

Obviously early in the development process, but can definitely see that it's heading in the right direction!

Might help us get a sense of the "3d" shape if you post photos from the side and top...that would be interesting to see.

Chris

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Randy_Davis on Wed May 15, 2013 6:47 pm

Time has just zipped on by another year!!!! Just thought I'd post an update on how the elm is comming along. Still another year of canopy work but it's almost there. Hope to put it into it's new container next spring.


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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

Post  Andre Beaurain on Thu May 16, 2013 8:18 am

Wow Randy, that is looking even better.

I know what the purists are saying, but look at your tree, unmistakable a tree in Africa, even though its a Elm.

Mazeltov!!

Love and light

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Re: Old Seiju elm - What to do with it

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