Hokkaido Design

Two weeks ago I obtained a new tree to add to my collection. It formerly belonged to the founder of the local bonsai society, he passed away recently. It is probably quite old guessing 80 years or so, given that hokkaido elm are slow growing in comparison to the standard variety. It was very overgrown and appears that minimal pruning or styling had been performed in quite some time. So next opportunity I had it was cleaned and some structural work was performed. I guy wired 2 branches, ever so carefully… It is very brittle. Something this variety is known for. I haven’t done much else, as I’m hesitant to pursue my own vision out of respect to the original owner/founder and the other members.

Initially, I considered taking many air layers as part of a restyling. Many others also wanted this specimen, as I don’t want to offend the other club members I’m considering other options as well. What suggestions do you all have? Pictures to follow.

Before cleanup

After cleanup, current selected front

Right side

Left side

Back side

Nebari and lower trunk

A problem area, the main branches

Shaded buds and foilage

Now that its been cleaned, light is reaching the interior and the buds are swelling. I currently don’t have a pot for this yet, so I will work the roots next spring. It stands 25 inches tall to its current apex and it’s nebari is 6.25 inches wide.

I’m also interested in container suggestions as well.

Have a great spring season and bonsai on!

Early Fall update,

Been a good year for this elm, I actually believe it to be Seiju and not Hokkaido.

It was repotted in spring and grew all year with 2 minor prunings to shape. I have a better pot for it (larger oval in a cream with emerald green glaze), but that will have to wait until spring. One the leaves drop (rather if they drop) I will selectively prune and attempt to wire this brittle beast of a tree. Here it is today.

Progress but still a ways to go.


Nice tree, and nice job taking care of it!
It looks like it on a good path forward. Since the tree has some history with the club are there any photos of it? Maybe you can glean a hint of what the originators wanted out of the design.

Looks like a great opportunity for a club presentation, and group discussion. Too bad clubs aren’t meeting much these days.


Thank you @WestSeattleDavid. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there are any historical photos of this tree to refer back to. This was part of the former founders personal collection and it was in a nursery can. It has a good root base, which leads me to believe it was in a shallow container or a least grown over a tile.

When repotted from the nursery container it had around 5-6 very large downward growing roots which I manage to reduce to fit in the shallow container. It didn’t seem to mind the root reduction, CE typically don’t mind root work. However, this being either Hokkaido or Seiju I I preserved as much as I could.

I will have to check back with the club when they resume meetings in the future. For now I’m just going to maximize it’s potential in current form.

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