Wednesday, May 15, 2013

English Elm. Back to basics!!!

I bought this English Elm (Ulmus minor) last week at a local club I visited. I liked the tree and thought it had a promising future. Although the canopy looks finished, the branches were all straight and lacked movement. I usually cut trees back to basic lines and then work from there. Bottle of Single Malt for size reference
The back of the tree

An old trunk chop in the middle of the tree

An old root chop That will make for some interesting carving in the future

A large straight branch was removed first but all the rest except the leader will go too.

The first cut.

                          5 minutes later and all that's left is the trunk line. Wire was added to the first branch and     leader to add some movement.
Side view to show how the top was bent towards the front.

The back of the tree.

As is common with most collected Elms, they lack finer roots. This one is typical in having only a few and they are massive old sucker type roots. I decided as well as removing the bark to let the wood harden in preparation for carving, I would also layer the tree to produce better roots. All the work was done with a Makita and then the top edge of the layer was finished sharply with a Knife.

The carved areas on the trunk will be widened in the future as the tree callouses. This will hepl to add a natural die back appearance.

The back again. The bark and cambium are 15mm thick.

I am looking forward to carving this root on the back

I expect the roots will grow quickly and perhaps a couple of months. All new buds will be allowed to extend fully for a couple of seasons

The cut around the base of the tree was packed with Sphagnum Moss

A wall was created with three strips of pot mesh. They were wired together and the mesh was adjusted to  make it flush with the soil.

The mesh was then packed with more Sphagnum Moss and then top dressed with Acadama. This will stop the birds from stealing the Moss for their nests. All the bark removal was sealed with wound paste. The tree will now be fed well and turned regularly for a nice even root spread.
Carving will start in a Month, when the wood is hard.

Extensive shoots but no roots as yet. Because of this I thought it wise to get some primary branch placement in place.
The branches were leaf pruned to see the structure, then cut back and wired.

 Primary structure in place. Plenty of feed again and hopefully good further extension to help the roots in the hot weather.

All the wires removed and ready for a prune for good budding. Unfortunately the layer hasn't issued roots as yet so it has been redressed and hopefully this year it will root
Feb 2014


  1. Hi Will, remember me?!
    Nice looking "find" mate and I'm sure this will again produce a fanstatic Winter Image in the long term. I think the first "chops" would scare most people! Keep up the good work buddy,

  2. Got a nice tree there Will. glad to see that you still go in for the drastic cutting back. I think I've seen that somewhere before. very interested to see how it turns out. Regards, Dave. E