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#ProgressionThursday - American Elm Bonsai

Just outside of St Louis lies a fantastic little lake community called Innsbrook. Over the years, I was able to visit the area numerous times with my family, and thanks to some gracious hosts, I was allowed on the property each February to scout for material. Even though we've moved to Tennessee, Innsbrook holds a special place in my heart. Today, I want to share the progression of an American Elm I found there.

Let me first say, I'm not 100% sure it's an American Elm. There are many species of elms in the US and American Elms were virtually wiped out by the Dutch Elm Disease. But, all my research, and the huge leaf size of this tree, tells me it's an American Elm. But, if someone reads this and says otherwise, I'm all ears.

Finally, I'm not sure this tree will ever become a truly great Bonsai. The leaves and internodes might be too long. But, like so many of my early trees, I've learned so much from this tree! So, without further ado, my American Elm.

I found success collecting these trees in the very early Spring. I would visit the property and cut down trees in mid February, then go back around March 1st to collect.

Early Spring 2017

I felt this tree had potential due to it's movement lower on the trunk. In retrospect, I would have cut it lower right from the beginning.

This picture is blurry, but you can see how large the leaves were that first Spring.

Spring/Summer 2017

I did not do anything but water and fertilize for the first year and half. In the summer of 2018, for reasons I still don't understand, I decided to chop and pot this tree. While you will see that the tree did survive, I don't think I'd recommend doing a summer chop and pot of a tree in general. I'm assuming the tree endured a great deal of stress and survived by chance more than my horticulture skills.

The tree before work, Summer 2018

The Chop

And the Pot

Again, I let the tree rest and recover. Not touching it again until the fall of 2019. This tree does have nice movement, and I'm still not 100% certain which front I like. I wired the tree to get and idea of it's future.

Fall 2019 Front 1

Front 2

Fast forward to today and I decided to rewire and continue the tree's development. Here is the tree before work showing a bit of fall color.

Fall, 2020

After, Front 1

American Elm Bonsai

Front 2

American Elm Bonsai

So, there you have it. My American Elm that reminds me of the peace and tranquility of Innsbrook, MO. Writing this post has reminded me that the tree is still in it's original organic soil. A repot is definitely needed in the spring and possibly a more shallow pot.

Final Before (Middle) & After

So, what do you think? Do you prefer, Front 1 or Front 2?

Leave a comment below or hit me up on Instagram. Until next time, Peace Love Bonsai!

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