Demo # 1

Developing a broom style with this Chinese Elm


Craig’s demonstration and educational session regarding the creation of a broom style tree used an established Chinese elm.  Variations on the broom style (illustrated in the slide show below) have been drawn by Craig, revealing another of his numerous talents when it comes to bonsai!


There was a lively discussion amongst members as to whether it was consistent with the broom style for a tree to be asymmetrical in design (as illustrated in the left side drawing), and evidence may be found of broom style asymmetrical design in a picture in the text by Yuji Yoshimura and Giovanna M. Halford and also in a drawing contained in Deborah Koreshoff’s well known text Bonsai its Art, Science, History and Philosophy.  In the illustration, the roots, longest branches and apex are all directed to the right.     


Background to the tree – it is estimated that this tree had been in training for about 35 years.  The reason it was selected to have a “new life” as a broom style tree is the fact that the tree had been let go for many years, and the branches had become far too thick (particularly at the top), as well as rigid, for the tree to have any real prospects as a bonsai.   There was also a kink in the trunk at the top.  Apart from this, the tree’s roots had exhausted every ounce of available space within the pot, and as can be seen in the slides, it was well and truly root-bound (and this was after jetting water underneath the plant to remove as much potting material as is possible).      


It was important however that the tree should “work” well as a broom style.  The good news is that Chinese Elms are well suited to the style as a “finely branched deciduous tree” and this particular tree had a useful section of straight trunk (an essential element of broom style trees).  The bad news for this tree is that attractive roots are a key feature of properly styled broom style trees, and as can be seen in the slide show, the roots currently on show are far from attractive.   


The key features of broom style are;

  • Attractive surface roots.

  • Tapering trunk.

  • Clean divide for branches.


It is fair to say that on the first of the criteria above, the tree is currently at a distinct disadvantage.

Initially, in the demonstration process, the elm’s branches were removed one at a time to show the difference that this made to the look of the tree and also to assess where best to make the major cut on the trunk.  Then the serious pruning took place;


An additional trunk reduction cut was made to deal with the fact that there was a little of the kink remaining at the top of the trunk which had to be removed in order to maximise the potential for this tree to look its best.  Given that all of the growth in the tree from this point on will be at the top of the tree, then care needs to be taken to ensure that the tree does not develop reverse taper.  To assist in this process an uneven “V” shape cut was made in the trunk as can be seen in the picture below;


The very least that will be gained from the development of this tree is that it will be an excellent educational tool, in the sense that a lot of detailed pruning and development of increasingly finer branches will be required to help the tree reach its maximum potential.  After all, this is a fundamental which can be applied to most bonsai development and the discipline involved will develop good habits.


Accredited AABC demonstrator Averil Stanley will be guest demonstrator for our October meeting. See below for details...  

Demo # 2 - Developing a group planting on a ceramic tile.... 

Given the importance of surface root structure as a feature of broom style trees, Craig also demonstrated a method of achieving an attractive well spread root system for trees, beginning with very young plants.  The method involves “threading” seedlings through holes drilled in a ceramic tile with the root mass of the seedling retained on the underside of the tile.  The tile and root mass are then covered with soil.


What eventuates as a result of this process, is that the trunk of the young tree swells as it grows (eventually achieving a diameter greater than the hole in the tile).  Consequently, the tree is effectively “ringbarked” and is forced to send out roots above the tile.  In this way, the roots are then distributed in an outwards direction over the surface of the tile.


All one needs to experiment with this approach to giving your young trees the prospect of attractive surface roots to enhance the look of the tree is an old tile, a ceramic drill and the willingness to experiment.

October Meeting - Guest demonstrator Averil Stanley

For the October meeting, we welcome Averil Stanley as a guest demonstrator. Averil is an accredited demonstrator with the Australian Association of Bonsai Clubs (AABC) and will be working on a large juniper for the demonstration. Members of the public can pay to watch the demonstration at a charge of $5 per head.  This is an excellent opportunity to observe and hear from a very experienced and talented bonsai artist!    


There will also be a workshop in the morning at 8:30am, with a maximum of 8 members. Bookings to participate in the morning workshop will be taken at the September meeting.

Meets 1st Saturday of each month


From: 10 am to 4 pm


At: Rose Cottage, Newtown Park, cnr Holberton and Pottinger St


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Phone: 0418 710 704



PO Box 7359, Toowoomba South QLD 4350