Workshop Elms   2 comments

Occasionally I perform workshops at the bi-annual Shohin Seminar. The last time I taught a workshop was in 2012. I have some material for another workshop that I was going to to do in 2014, but decided to wait untill the tree are at the point I wish them to be.

There is one thing I do have a problem with at workshops, and that is worthiness of the material. In year gone by the Shihin Seminar was a place that one could partake of and feel confident that they would walk away with their monies worth. Its not that way anymore. There is not as much material around as there used to be and those that do have material are saving it for themselves or are charging so much for the workshop that is is beginning to price itself out of the market. Workshop prices have moved away from the 40.00 and 50.00 price point to now seeing prices of 600.00 for a workshop for a piece of shohin material barely worth 100.00.

I have been to workshops only to be dissapointed when I sat down to see the material on the table and see material that I could have bought better of and cheaper of in the vendor room. Part of the workshop experience has to be the teaching environment. 50% of the workshop should be about further development and care for the material offered. The other 50 percent needs to be about the material itself. Does it have a proportionate trunk or is it undersized? Is it too tall to be cut down? Are there enough branches to work with and to wire during the workshop? Does the tree have any movement or is it static and boring?

For the answers to these questions lets observe what I am doing to build suitable material for a worshop.

These elms are all started from root cuttings. Elms grow very well from root cuttings and are a good way to propagate material from elms since the roots can have very interesting shapes. It also helps if the parent stock is suitable also. These elms were all covered with a foam cup filled with cotton to keep the top wet. It is here that the buds will issue since I wanted predominately broom style trees. The cuttings were struck in 2008 and this repot is in 2012

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The grow out period requires copious amounts of time to pruning and branch direction. None of the tree will ever see a piece of wire wrapped around its branches, untill the students put it there. All my shaping so far will be directional pruning and thinning.

The two photos below are of the cuttings in 2013.

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In the spring of 2014 some of the spring growth can be seen. This growth needs to be cut off as much as 6 times per year to keep the trees in shape.

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A few eeks after pruning the canopies will feel in solid with leaves. They only stay like this a shirt time and then they get bushy again in need of another prune.

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Cutting back to thick branches building the secondaries.

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These are the eight trees prined and ready for winter. The trees have recieved small wires pulling down branches for more of a spreading oak look. I have drilled holes in the terra cotta pots to accomodate the wires. All these tree are 1 inch across at the base and are about 6 to 7 inches tall.

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2 responses to “Workshop Elms

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  1. These are good starting material. I like 8 the most, then probably 3.

    I have a couple Chinese elms I’ve been training. I’m going to stick them into nursery cans and grow them out some more next year, taking some cuttings to for further down the road. How often have you repotted these? Alternating years or yearly? I’m really impressed by the rate of growth mine have had. I haven’t had to repot yet, but I have heard that once the roots hit the walls of a pot the growth slows tremendously.

    • Thats not true at all. Elms will just circle the pot, I have had as many as seven rotations around a pot at repot time. These have only been repotted once since they were struck. Out of the plastic pots and into the terra cotta pots which they have been in for two years. They were in the plastic pots for two years. Try to use the roots rather than cuttings. Cuttings are slow since you can get a root as much as 3/8 inch on a very small tree. root cuttings are just as fast and you are starting with larger material and will have branches much faster since the plant is as mature as the root was.

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