English Elm - what now?

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Matt S
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English Elm - what now?

Post by Matt S »

Last week I acquired this English Elm. It started as a cutting and has changed hands through a couple of founding members of the S.A. Bonsai Society (Janet Sabey and Janice Kane) and is about 35 years old. When Janice bought it from Janet it was a broom style but some of the roots died away and the interior rotted away leaving it with a hollow trunk. It was displayed at the 2015 AABC convention in Adelaide, where it looked like this:
English Elm 2015.jpg


The last couple of years we had some severe heat events and coupled with a location move there was another die back - this time down the entire left hand side.
English Elm 2019 2.jpg
English Elm 2019 1.jpg
English Elm 2019 3.jpg
English Elm 2019 4.jpg
English Elm 2019 5.jpg


So now it's with me. After such a severe die back there is now an opportunity to completely rethink and restyle what's left. First step is to find out where the dead wood and live bark meet to get a better idea of what we're dealing with, but I'm keen to hear what others may think. Any ideas and comments welcome!

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Re: English Elm - what now?

Post by greg27 »

Such a cool tree, well worth the 38 second wait :D

I like the idea of it remaining straight up; this solid old tree slowly succumbing to the elements but still firmly anchored, with one side very definitely dead.

For me this is the front, rotated clockwise slightly.
chop.jpg
But I don't really know what I'm doing so :whistle:
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Re: English Elm - what now?

Post by shibui »

The hollow trunk is a great feature. It needs to be seen so I'm looking at the sides that show that.
Without too much thought I picked this end view as worth considering.
elm.JPG
That thick upper branch looks like it comes too far forward so maybe lop it either very short of off completely?
Probably a little more of the dead wood carved off to expose the hollow a little more from this angle.
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MJL
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Re: English Elm - what now?

Post by MJL »

Something like this perhaps Image

Image


Image


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Re: English Elm - what now?

Post by robb63 »

From your second picture;
Lean it more or less 45deg to right so dead wood looks like its weather worn or hit by lightening.
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Re: English Elm - what now?

Post by boom64 »

Beautiful Tree Matt so much character. I think the branches have to be wayward and gnarly to harmonise with the trunk. Personal preference is for pic3 as the front. Looking forward to future updates . Cheers John.
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Re: English Elm - what now?

Post by Matt S »

The other day I had a closer look at this elm and as I suspected most of the roots on the left hand side have died off, which limits the options for a new front. I'll leave the final decision once I've barerooted the tree and see what kind of rootball I have left.

I went hard on the branches as I didn't feel the need to preserve ramification as right now the priorities are getting some vigour back and rebuilding the framework. I removed any overly straight sections and took out a main branch where there was already two and it was causing a bulge in the main trunk. I also didn't like the piece of deadwood jutting out at 90 degrees so that was was taken off too. So in a nutshell the whole thing has been simplified with just the bare bones left.
English Elm Aug20.jpg

I'll post another pic when it's been repotted. I've tried tilting the trunk at various angles but at this stage I'm thinking of keeping it straight.

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Matt S
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Re: English Elm - what now?

Post by Matt S »

As a side note to this, I was looking into pictures of really old English Elms and because Dutch Elm Disease has decimated the Elm population in Britain, the best examples I could find were in paintings.
gettyimages-90014470-612x612.jpg
d4c8e63530683c71b236e26aa5616ebe.jpg

I saw one article refer to the classic Elm shape as a Tweety Bird head!

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Re: English Elm - what now?

Post by MJL »

Hey Matt,
Excellent update to your tree - it is in safe hands to be sure.
On old English elms, in the past, I have been attracted to this picture on Wikipedia - which also has a resemblance to the last painting in your pics.
Image


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Re: English Elm - what now?

Post by gyrza »

Just wanted to share a photo of what I think of when someone says English Oaks. This beast has a trunk diameter of about 1.2m, and is well over 100 years old. Has had some issues in the last few years and a lot of bulk has been removed. In its prime it was almost covering 2 house blocks. It had some large horizontal branches that extended beyond the canopy you can see here, they were removed because the trunk was splitting.
oak 3.jpg
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