Root Over Rock Chinese Elm Update

Happy New Years folks. Here’s the last project for the year. It’s a root over rock chinese elm I grown from seed. I thought I’d share more of it’s history before I describe the work I’ve done to it.

The tree began as a doner seedling from a mature elm tree in my neighbors yard. It grew freely for 1-2 years before I decided to dig it out. I gave it an additional season to grow in a pot and doubled the size.

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mother tree
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Identically aged elm but never dug out

It spend the entire growing season in the ground with the roots firmly braced with seram wrap and external anchors. Here is the tree from roughly 1 year ago:

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Neglected to take progression shots, but here is the tree prior to wrapping the roots

I dug it out today, slightly early but mind you chinese elms in Southern California leaf out in late January to early February. For most trees it would be ill advised to do heavy root work and pruning in early winter but given the vigor of elms as well as the mild socal temps I can get away with it. Given it grew freely in the ground it has more than enough stored sugars to recover.

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Leaders cut and some roots removed

I took off all the seram wrap and checked all the roots. I did some reduction and cut off the 4 foot leaders from the trunk. Everything was reanchored with wires tying down any major root to the rock.

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The intended front of the tree. The large root in the front may be split later but for now I’m leaving it alone as it’s one of the main anchor roots
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Union is not too bad but rock can still be pulled off roots
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Grew like gangbusters on the other side. Some reduction done here to expose more of the rock

I organized the roots evening the spread and cut back to where I could get some division or ramification. The nebari will need further refinement over the years but I need to wait until it’s firmly attached to the rock before additional work.

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Repotted, with the roots slightly exposed. Every year I will plant the tree a bit higher showing more of the nebari and rock

My intention with this planting is to have exposed roots hanging off the left side of the stone. Next year this should be achievable and will make for a interesting tree with character. I’ll begin primary branch development this season as well. Hope you enjoy the update and have a great 2018!

Julian

Root over rock elm

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1-2 year old Chinese elm

My neighbor has 2 large chinese elm trees in their front yard. Some years more than others, seeds will fall into my yard and root themselves in various places. Last year I dug out one of these donor elm seedlings, approximately 1 year old, and planted in a small nursery can. The tree grew unrestricted for the entire year over doubling in size.

The tree was significantly pruned back (the previous shoots being at least 3 feet tall or so) and the roots were slightly pruned leaving most of the lateral roots. My initial plans were to let it thicken up and develop it as a broom style tree but I wanted to do something different. The tree was secured to the rock using raffia and seram wrap then planted in the ground. I’m hoping it lives and if so, the roots were secured tightly enough to the rock to prevent separation. Will post updates in spring and will check the roots next year if it lives!

Thanks for taking a look and subscribe for more projects to be posted in the coming weeks!