Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => Deciduous Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Adair M on January 18, 2012, 10:56 AM

Title: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 18, 2012, 10:56 AM
I rescued this zelkova from the local bonsai nursery recently.  There is a bit of "knobbyness" where all the branching starts.  I had thought of letting some of the whips grow out, and use them as approach grafts on the knobby area so there will be a branch there.

It obviously needs ramification.  But the bones are there.

In seaching thru this site, I don't see any other threads on zelkova.  Any particular reason for that? 

I do plan on repotting this spring.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: MatsuBonsai on January 18, 2012, 07:17 PM
In seaching thru this site, I don't see any other threads on zelkova.  Any particular reason for that? 

A zelkova killed my goldfish.  I don't like to talk about it.

I've only got seedlings myself.  There's a local guy here that has trunks about that size, but gnarly scars and warts all over.  He's one that plants in the ground and forgets about them for decades.  Little to no work done on them in the ground produces inferior "trunks", let alone good bonsai.

Yours on the other hand looks like it has some promise. 
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Judy on January 19, 2012, 08:34 AM
I Love Zelkova... It's the tree that got me into this mess...   er, I mean hobby.  This tree in this link actually. http://www.BonsaiSite.com/m12.html (http://www.BonsaiSite.com/m12.html)
 I had some trees before I saw this pic, but once I saw this, it was all over.  I have a zelkova, a much smaller one than yours.  I'm working on it slowly, and hope to accomplish something near to the linked one, but a shohin, not a mame.  Needs a new pot, maybe this year.  I think yours is a good base to start with, what does the nebari look like? 
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 19, 2012, 10:43 AM
Judy,

Isn't it interesting how people get started in Bonsai?  I saw my first bonsai at the Dogwood Arts Festival in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA in 1975.  It was a trident maple shohin with incredible taper.  Since then, I have always like tree with taper.

I started researching bonsai, and one of the first books I got was a publication by the Brooklyn Botanical Society, that had translated articles on bonsai.  One of those was about zelkova, and how to start them from seed, and how they progresse over the years.  Since then, I've always wanted a decent broom style, and have never found one, until now.  I tried growing some from seed, and found that maybe 1 of 20 had any potential.

But I digress...

This tree has decent nebari.  Whoever started this tree had a clue.  I don't know why they let it go.  The provenance that I know of is that the local shop aquired it along with dozens of other trees, mixed varieties.  Only a few were zelkova.  They came from someone who was liquidating a "collection", originally from California.

I have not done anything to the tree, waiting for spring.  It was leafless when I purchased it.  The big clumps of moss will go.  I will really inspect the nebari when I repot in a month or so.  I'm not crazy about the white pot, I  may change it to a dark green/gray.

Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Judy on January 19, 2012, 01:40 PM
Funny mine is in a white pot as well, it just happened to be the next size up from the first pot I had it in, and I was giving a bit of growing room. Definitely the wrong color.  I'm looking for a light greenish pot for mine, I think that is a good color for these.  I'll be watching for your spring posts on this tree, do you think you'll cut the branching back and start anew?
Just for giggles, here is my zelkova, as you can see I still have a ways to go, I'm going to have to cut the left side branch back hard, as it's gotten too thick at the top...

Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Chrisl on January 19, 2012, 01:50 PM
Nice one Judy!

Adair, may I recommend removing the moss now as to prevent any damage/rotting of the trunk.   And I also think this tree has great potential.  Good Luck!
Chris
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 19, 2012, 06:09 PM
Chris,

As of now, the moss doesn't touch the trunk, but does touch and cover roots.  But, you are right about the damage moss can do, or the excess moisture moss holds.  I will remove all the moss as soon as I can.

My white pine I got from Brussel's last spring had spagnum moss all over the JBP portion of the trunk.  I've been carefully picking that off.

This zelkova will benefit from some grooming.  There are a lot of old scars that have healed over, but need the dead bark from the original cut manicured back.  And a lot of the branches were just chopped back, and given no wound care.

It will also benefit from new soil mix.

Judy, this tree appears to have been neglected for the past couple of years, so, yes, I will probably have to cut back a number of branches and start over.  I'm hoping to get a lot of budding back on old wood this spring.

Adair
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Jerry Norbury on January 19, 2012, 06:29 PM
Is it actually a Zelkova Serrata?

Looks more like a Chinese elm to me - and certainly in Europe, Chinese Elms are marketed as Zelkova Parviflora. I have 50 or more of these.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Rui Marques on January 20, 2012, 05:38 AM
Hi all,

The first post is a Zelcova serrata indeed. I have one.

Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 27, 2012, 08:55 AM
I went ahead and removed the moss to get a good look at the nebari.  It looks very good to me.  I'm thinking that this tree might have been an airlayer since the roots are fairly thin and consistent around the trunk.  Most seedlings, if not carefully tended to when they are young, will develop heavy taproots.

I've attached photos.

Even though we're having warm weather, the early daffodils are blooming, and my red maple trees in the front yard have flower buds swelling (some blooming) the zelkova's buds were tightly closed. I'm thinking the best time to repot is just when they are swelling?

Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on January 27, 2012, 09:08 AM
Does look like an airlayer. I would suggest that when you repot it that you bare-root it. You can make a pretty nice flare on these by pruning everything that grows down, removing any roots that cross and combing out the roots form a generally flat, slightly undulating, root mass in a shallow container, wider and deeper (front to back), than the one it is in. maybe a shallow wood container if you don't have a ceramic one handy. You can get the roots right while you are working the top down and building taper on the branches, key on these brooms.

Nice pick up,

John
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 27, 2012, 09:18 AM
Indeed.

I did start removing the crossing branches, and doing some trimming back. 

And I did think it needed a wider, shallower, pot.

I've attached a photo of one I think might do.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on January 27, 2012, 01:47 PM
That could work.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 27, 2012, 03:53 PM
John,

I have some really thin, wide pots.  I used to use them for making forests.  Would something like that do better?
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on January 27, 2012, 04:49 PM
It would, the goal is to get the roots growing out horizontally. Remember to fertilize near the trunk and some out a way from the trunk as well. Encourages the the new roots from the base to grow more quickly.

Nice project, maybe I will get motivated and take some pictures- here in tropical Connecticut.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Judy on January 28, 2012, 08:42 AM
Very nice radial spread on the roots there.  Looks much better in the wider pot, I wonder if a rounded edge would set it off a bit better though.  But looks like you will have fun.  Remember to take photos as you repot and do your cuts, I wish I had progression shots of some of my trees.... And of course post them!
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 30, 2012, 11:34 AM
Judy,

I found the off- white pot on the left down in my collection.  Maybe that one would be better.  The other green rectangle I had thought of using is to the right.

It's funny how the camera angle messes with the perpective.  The off-white pot is about an inch wider on all sides than the rectangle.  It is less deep.  It's about 1 inch interior depth, and the green one is 1 1/2 inch.

When I repot, I'll see what the root structure looks like and if I can get them down to the white pot level.  It may be that I will have to get there in stages.

As to soil, should I go with boon's mix?  Or add some pine bark?
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on January 30, 2012, 06:39 PM
either pot works, the point is, get the tree in to the shallow pot by reducing everything that grows down. you need to prune back to the solid wood of the tree base. You may still have the old Bonsai Today issues from your prior adventure, look back tot eh edition on repotting. Essentially you end up with the atrunk with the surface roots sticking out. Uncross anything the crosses and make the roots come out something like spokes. Doing the hard work up front will rapidly accelerate the development of this tree.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 30, 2012, 07:35 PM
Thanks, John!  That's what I was planning.  I'm thinking there shouldn't be much growing straight down since it's an air layer.

Now, soil...

Back in the day, I had never heard of akadama.  I used turface.

I now have akadama (double red line brand) and some Beam Clay brand pumice.

I also have an unlimited supply of granite grit that I can seive out of my horse arena.

And, back in the day, we used to put in about 1/3 organics in the form of "Natures Helper".   But, I'm thinking the modern thought is to forego the organics entirely?
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on January 30, 2012, 08:07 PM
The Akadama, sieved, and the pumice together are fine. You are in a hotter place, maybe a 2/3 akadama and 1/3 pumice mix. I would also put Sphagnum on the surface of the soil, after wiring the tree in very well and watering it until the water runs clear. Should be fun. JOhn
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: scottroxburgh on January 30, 2012, 09:57 PM
I am not sure if you have seen this post by Jonas, but it outlines an option...

http://bonsaitonight.com/2011/06/10/the-best-repotting-of-the-year/ (http://bonsaitonight.com/2011/06/10/the-best-repotting-of-the-year/)
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on January 30, 2012, 10:07 PM
Scott, great pick up- exactly what I was talking about. Well, more with the board pinning, but the level of root removal is about right.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 30, 2012, 10:37 PM
I have NOT seen that!  Whoa!  That does look like some fun! 

I think I can get my roots that flat.  If I put a board under, I'd have to use a thicker pot than the one I was planning on using.

And I can see how using chopsticks creates the undulations...

I wonder how long it took them to do that?  (Gotta remember to get a sprayer.)

Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on January 30, 2012, 10:56 PM
Upon closer inspection, I saw that the example tree had some fairly large roots right at the trunk that didn't lie entirely flat.  These kept the bottow of the trunk elevated a little off the board.  I was wondering if it might be a good idea to use "fencing staples" to nail those down closer to the board?  (They're U shaped nails. Sharp on both ends.)  I use them to nail wire fencing onto wooden posts.  Never thought of them as bonsai tools!

I can see how the galvanized nails helped put some curves in the roots.  I wonder how long they kept the board attached?  And. would galvanized screws work just as well?  Might make it easier come repotting time.  Just unscrew the screws from the board.

I promise if I do this, I'll photograph my efforts!

Oh, and John?  I've been paying attention to the thread about the spaghnum moss.  I think it will most certainly help during our summer.  Expecially if I go with the shallow pot.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on March 19, 2012, 10:39 PM
Today, I did the repot.

The roots were better than I expected, very little crossing roots.

I used screws to arrange the roots.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: MatsuBonsai on March 19, 2012, 10:40 PM
Pics or it didn't happen.  :)
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on March 19, 2012, 10:41 PM
Pictures?

(man that Matsu dude is fast. Doesn't he have a pregnant wife to tend to? Wasting his valuable sleep time on the internets..... :'(
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on March 19, 2012, 10:47 PM
Geez!!!  You SOBs are demanding!  I've been having trouble posting pics, I guess they're too big, so I made 'em smaller!

Here goes nothin'
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on March 19, 2012, 10:49 PM
And now for the screws:
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: MatsuBonsai on March 19, 2012, 10:54 PM
(man that Matsu dude is fast. Doesn't he have a pregnant wife to tend to? Wasting his valuable sleep time on the internets..... :'(

She's in the other room watching bad TV.

Geez!!!  You SOBs are demanding!  I've been having trouble posting pics, I guess they're too big, so I made 'em smaller!

Looking good.  Wayne was complaining in chat the other day that it's hard to take pictures while repotting.  Looks like you've got a thing or two to teach him.  :)
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on March 19, 2012, 10:55 PM
And, finally, the finished product.

I want to eventually put it in the white oval.  But I chose the green rectangle as a temporary pot because the white oval is so shallow.  The board is 3/8 plywood, and when I placed the tree in it, the nebari was a little elevated above the rim, so while I could have potted it in there, I chose to be safe and pot it in the deeper pot.  Temporarily.

I used screws because I thought it would be easier to remove them when it's time to do the next repot.  And, I found some that were green, so you hardly notice them thru the spagnum.

Oh, and John K., I tried to add some "undulation" with the chopsticks.  We'll see how that works out.

The frustrating part is that now it's repotted, and with spagnum, you can't see those beautiful roots!

Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: scottroxburgh on March 21, 2012, 09:32 PM
Good to see this technique getting used more often.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on March 21, 2012, 10:02 PM
Scott,

I would not have known about this technique if you had not posted the link here.  Thank you very much!

I was a fun project.  Fortunately, the roots were already excellent to begin with, and hopefully, use of this technique will make them even better.

One thing:  I did manage to screw the plywood base to my turntable!  Fortunately, only two screws, and not very deep.

Oh, I didn't picture it, but I used two screws from under the plywood into the bottom of the trunk to secure the tree to the plywood.  One screw wasn't secure enough.  Two did it.

I was pretty well prepared with all my tools handy.  I'd say it took me about 2 hours start to finish.  Including cleanup.  It took longer to completely bareroot the tree than I had thought it would.  I did have a spray bottle to help keep the roots moist.

The only problem I had using screws rather than nails was sometimes the branches of the tree interfered with the back end of the screwdriver.  I had to work around that a little.

It's now been a couple of days, and the tree is budding out nicely.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Rkovo on March 22, 2012, 02:54 AM
hello, i am still fairly new to the world of bonsai, i just aquired a zelkova, it has some real potential i think. hopefully.
my question is the buds are beginning to form, but the branch structure that exists now consists mainly of 2 leader branches that are both upwards of 20 inches, should i trim those back before buds open and leafing occurs to encourage branching or wait and do it once the leaves are strong? i should mention the trunk is maybe only 10 inches and thin now. its only a baby, but i have high hopes for it. thanks for any and all input?
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on March 22, 2012, 08:07 AM
Rkovo,

It's hard to say what to do about your zelkova without seeing it.

The people here are really helpful, but they really like pictures.  I suggest you start a new thread, and post pictures of your tree, and you will be amazed at the feedback you will get.

Adair
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Chrisl on March 22, 2012, 11:07 AM
Good Job Adair!  I actually did the same, kinda, yesterday to a small Shimpaku.  Putting a screw from the bottom of the wood into the base of the tree was a brilliant idea!  It would've made the job simpler!  But what I did differently, was I used a staple gun to tack the roots down.  I held the gun lightly so the staples didn't crimp the roots hardly at all but kept them in place.  Since I wanted a larger tree, I planted it in the ground and we'll see how it works over the next few years. 
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on March 22, 2012, 07:11 PM
Chrisi,
I just asked Boon what he thought about your new technique, he said "OK?". My thoughts as well. Post some pictures and keep us posted.

John
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Chrisl on March 22, 2012, 10:52 PM
Ok? then it is lol  I didn't take any pics of 'the procedure' and it's planted now.  I'll definitely post pics of it's progression. 


Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on April 04, 2012, 06:37 PM
Well guys, somehow I managed not to kill it when I did the roots.

I'm pinching back at about 4 leaves. 

What's next?

(You SoBs tell me what to do, and I'll... "Just Do It"!!!)

No, really, this has been a fun project.  And it appears to be working.

Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on April 04, 2012, 09:59 PM
No pinch, let it grow, let it grow, let it grow. You are trying to get the roots right, you can reduce in the fall. Nice, why would you think that you had killed it? While scary, the root work you did was well done and appropriate. Nic. John
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on April 04, 2012, 10:39 PM
No pinch?

Well alright then!  No more pinching! 

These things usually grow like weeds.

John, I knew I hadn't killed it.  I took the photos of my repotting back to the bonsai shop where I "rescued" it from and showed the owner, and he was upset with me that I hadn't done it there with him.  I told him that I was going to bring to his shop when I did the repot.  So, I told him the buds starting breaking on Monday, and he's closed on Mondays and Tuesday, and I couldn't wait.  C'est la vie.

Anyway, I'm really pleased with it.  I appreciate the advice on how to make it better.

Adair
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on April 04, 2012, 10:52 PM
John,

What do you think about the idea of putting one of those metal bands around the area of the chop to prevent further swelling while the trunks continue to grow?  You know, the kind used for plumbing where you can tighten them with a screwdriver, and they kinda ratchet tight?  How to do it with out further scarring?  Rubber between the metal and the tree?

Ideas?
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Jason E on April 04, 2012, 11:52 PM
Hi Adair,
They sell those clamps w/ a rubber gasket and the metal hose clamp all in one peice in the plumbing section. seems like that might work pretty well. Project looks like fun, look forward to seeing it progress. I recently did a v cut on a few zelkovas to start some brooms. be interested to hear how yours works out.

jason
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on April 05, 2012, 07:23 AM
I guess I'll have to cut the rubber gasket to get it around the trunk.  Shouldn't be a problem, though.

I'm going out of town for a day or so.  Will update when I get back.
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Chrisl on April 05, 2012, 09:08 AM
Looking good Adair! 

I know you can't style and repot the same yr., but letting this grow unheeded, won't it be difficult later to wire some movement into the primary branches?  Or is the plan to cut back, grow out, cut back for taper?

(Btw John, my stapled down Shimpaku's doing just fine so far LOL)
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: John Kirby on April 05, 2012, 11:11 AM
Interesting, why can't you repot and style in the same year? This is true for really, really old trees (some of them), and I am talking about old trees in pots, not necessarily old trees. This statement is an artifact of old American Bonsai.

Chrisi, what would you say if I told you that we style Ponderosa Pines and then dramatically repot them at the same time? Or that we repot and style Japanese Black Pines in the same year, sometimes at the same time?  The tree at the top of this page (The Itoigawa Juniper Tree of the Month and last Months JBP as well (with a 60+% reduction in foliage)) were repotted and styled at the same time. If your trees are healthy, have strong root systems and are growing well, many can and are worked both on top and below the surface in the same year. You have to be aware of your trees status, use good technique and appropriate timing and provide appropriate aftercare. Since we frequently repot Shohin every year, not being able to do both would lead to no work being done.

About this tree, I didn't say that it would be allowed to grow unchecked all year, what I said was don't pinch and let it grow, etc. there are major structural issues at the top of the tree that won't be fixable with Bands or clamps or rope. However, let's fix one thing at a time. To control the top, you will want to prune the top branches back to 2-4 leaves after it starts turning woody (lignifying). Should start happening in mid to late May. If you keep effectively pinching the tree now, while you are pushing for roots, you will slow down your progress.

Thinking about the top, you will eventually need to use big pruners, a saw and some chisels. Just be patient.

Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Chrisl on April 05, 2012, 11:36 AM
Humm....I had thought that we don't want to have more than one stressor done to the tree in the same season.  I didn't realize it only pertained to old trees in pots, or tree's that aren't in perfect health. 

But yes, it does surprise me to be honest.  Repotting and styling in the same year.  Amazing both of those last two Trees of the Month had been repotted and styled in the same year!  They look immaculate.  Which is your obviously your point, that both work styling and root work can be done if it's healthy, done at the right time, and aftercare.  And funny, I hadn't even thought of shohin, as I don't have any, but you're right.  If you have to repot a shohin every year, one has to work both the top and the roots, one has to be a very good horticulturalist to be good at shohin bonsai.

Thanks for the information John.  Strange, every 'rule' I know seems to often wrong, or are 'rules' that often are not black and white.  I hope as I learn more, get more experience, I'll feel more comfortable about not being so absolute about rules in my work. 
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on May 30, 2012, 10:20 PM
An update on the Zelkova:

I've been letting it grow.  The branches are now a couple of feet long.  I just dropped it off at ye olde bonsai shoppe as I will be traveling for a week or so.

I did put a hose clamp around the trunk at the chop location to see if it will constrain the bulging there while the top grows.

And, my main concern at this point is to develop the "plate" nebari.  That appears to coming along.

I'll attach a photo of the clamp, because I know if I don't, Matsu will deny it ever happened...
Title: Re: A zelkova project
Post by: Adair M on May 30, 2012, 10:27 PM


Thinking about the top, you will eventually need to use big pruners, a saw and some chisels. Just be patient.



Pruners and saws I have.  Chisels?

What do you have in mind, John?