Monday, January 16, 2012

Chinese elm

Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia


Stefan said...

Dear Walter

I am an admirer of your work as you create trees which normally speak a unique and powerful language. However, this chinese elm does not really resemble a tree but more a what often is sold as 'Garden Bonsai', a wooden stick with 'pom-poms' attached. It this the artists choice to generate a response or a reminiscense of early times in your career as a bonsai artist?


Walter Pall said...


you have a good eye. This is my cookie-cutter, old fashioned neoclassical bonsai. In my lectures I show it as an example with the words:
"some bonsai look like trees as a poodle looks like a wolf"
I keep it in the original shape much like one sometimes wold keep a building which is totally out of fashion as a testament of time. Often such things rise in value when the generation who hates it is gone. Anyway, the generation that likes this is still here. You would be surprised to find how many bonsai folks think that this is excellent. In my eyes they have the taste as of 1990 when this kind or image was in top fashion her in Europe.

Steve Moore said...

My comment is much like Stefan's. Two things stood out to me immediately: this tree is obviously healthy and well-cared for, but it looks like a pine!

I like your "poodle-to-wolf" comparison; very apt.

Anonymous said...

are you keeping this as an indoor tree, or is this picture from earlier in the season, or does it just stay simi-evergreen?

Walter Pall said...


this is outdoor all year. It is in the cold greenhouse in winter. There it has minus 10°C at the moment - stiff freezing. It is the Chinese variety which is often kept as inddor tree. But it is quite hardy really. It still does not loose all foliage in winter.
This tree is proof that the rigid distinction between 'deciduous ' and 'evergreen' is nonsense botanically.

Thomas Urban said...

Hello Mr. Pall,

I had one that recently died on me. I thought that because I bought it as an indoor tree and it spent many years under tropical conditions that it would die if changed to a seasonal tree. Do you think the reason it died was because it didn't have a chance to rest? I am a bit confused with Chinese elms. I treated it with the modern substrate, heavy feeding and watering everyday routine.

Thank you,

Walter Pall said...

trees have it in their genes to need cold periods or warm climate all year round. This CANNOT be changed by conditioning. Why your elm died I cannot answer. It probably has to do with th lack of horticultural skills. Most beginners trees die within the first months. You are in good company.
Probably only less than five percent of beginners bonsai are alive after twelve months.