Cork Bark Elm 003


I found myself at Steve DaSilva’s house on a frosty Saturday. I was there to dig some trees. He has property and grows a couple beds of trees in the ground. Junipers, quince, elm, pines, maples, olives and hornbeams.

I found this tree growing in the ground and it looked like what most of us look for in a tree. Fat trunk, good taper and texture. This tree had all that in spades. The trunk at the time I dug it was about 2 inches across. I kept that first branch with the thought that I could turn that into a nice primary branch.

In this view we can see the large branch that was taken out of the top of the tree. At this point looking at the pictures one may ask, Keppler, this tree looks an awful lot more than two inches across. It was, but this tree was growing in full sun and the cork bark was extremely deep. I keep it under shade cloth and you will see in later pictures that the bark isn’t nearly as corky or deep as it was. I have no idea where the bark went, it must have absorbed it into the tree somehow, because it never fell off.

By June I am starting to see some twigs to wire and make my tree.


The tree is now in a colander to help compact the root ball for a pot. the branches are starting to get some smaller twigs and they look like branches now.


The tree is now in a first ceramic pot. Nothing very expensive just a cheap Chinese grow pot. Branches are ramifying nicely and so far pretty happy with it’s growth.


Things start to get serious now. Not happy now with the direction of the tree. That first branch that I couldn’t wait to build now seems clunky to all the rest. I sit and stare at the tree. Give me a sign. What should I do. Like most elms that are not controlled, the top will always outgrow the bottom. And so it was with this tree. The branches are too far apart around the base of the tree and then really get dense as we move up the tree. I’m thinking I need to cut off some of the bottom branches to make it look better. I start with the large one. Then the next one up. Then the next, soon all I have is the part that I felt looked best. I stopped.

I had a few pots that I collected over the years. Japanese pots that were medium priced at the time that are worth more now and hard to find.

First beauty shot. Lots of guy wires to keep those branches in place.



In 2018 I decided that I needed to take off some more branches. The bottom two were removed.

The tree as it is today.

Posted May 2, 2019 by California Bonsai Art

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