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I have begun to re-pot some of my deciduous bonsai. I like to re-pot my pines closer to spring time so I do my deciduous species a little earlier in order to leave plenty of time for the conifers.

The tree in today’s post is an English Elm (Ulmus procera). I picked it up at a local bonsai show last year. I have always liked clump style bonsai and am always on the lookout for suitable stock (which is quite hard to find). When I saw this little clump I quickly grabbed it.

The Elm after a year in my care.

Since owning it, I have fed, pruned and wired a little. It proved to be a very strong grower so I defoliated 3 times during the growing season. After the 3rd time it did not bud out as strongly as I would have liked which means I will only do two defoliations this coming season.

As the tree had been in a rather large terracotta pot it had developed a large rootball, as a result a fair amount had to be pruned off in order to get it into a bonsai pot.

The underside of the rootball showing the cuts where some lager roots were removed.

This re-potting I concentrated on removing all downward growing roots. This lead to a large percentage of the rootball being removed. Although Elms are strong trees I thought that I would not prune the surface roots as much as I might otherwise due to the large amount I had already removed from the rootball.

The surface roots.

As you can see from the above image there are a number of large un-tapered roots. In the next re-potting I will be looking to reduce these roots to introduce some taper and delicacy to the rootbase. For the time being though, these roots will help the tree recover from the loss of the larger part of its previous rootmass.

If you read my post “Two pots” you will be familiar with the two pot options I had for this tree.

The two pots I had to choose from.

Although I like both choices I ended up chosing the left hand pot.  What i found interesting was how each pot gave the tree a different feeling. The left pot ( ) gave the tree a more spreading feeling while I felt that the right pot ( ) made the clump appear much taller. The beauty of liking both the pot/tree combinations is that I will happily alternate which pot I use in future re-pottings to give the clump a new feel each year.

The prepared pot (minus tie-in wires)

For its size the Yamafusa pot had a good number of drainage holes, each of which needed mesh screening to prevent the soil media falling out and to prevent some of the larger pests getting in.

The potted Elm.

The Elm was then tied in firmly and soil worked in around the rootball. I feel the pot is a good fit to the clump and the green of the pot should work very well with the yellow autumn colours I hope to get next year. This clump has a long way to go before it is a good bonsai but it is now firmly on its way. Hopefully heavy feeding combined with defoliation will add a fair amount of twiggyness and branching to the tree to further enhance its image.

This last weekend I looked through some pots to find something suitable for an english elm clump that I will be re-potting in the coming months. I ended up choosing two pots. Both pots had a number of similarities and I thought that a post comparing them might be interesting.

The two pots were made by Yamafusa and Ina Genzou.


Yamafusa Hanko (signature)

I really like Yamafusa pots, especially the green glazes. They have a great speckling and richness of colour that varies subtly across the pot.

Ina Genzou

Ina Genzou Hanko (Signature)

This is a Ina Genzou pot, I don’t know a lot about his work and is the only pot of his that I have. I like the pot but the finish in a few areas seems a little rough in contrast to other areas of the pot which are more visible and have a nicer finish.

Both pots were glazed green and both of round shapes, one is a circular shape and the other an oval.

The Yamafusa pot from above

The Genzou pot from beneath.

Comparing the glazes is interesting. I am always fascinated by the vast differences in similar glazes. Both pots are green, both have speckles in their glazes yet both are very different. If you look closely at both pots you can see the influence the different clay colours have in the zones where the glaze thins out.

The Yamafusa glaze

I find that Yamafusa’s green glazes really glow. When you look closely you can see that the colour changes depending on its thickness. At the top of the pot’s rim, hints of the clay beneath sneak through changing its tone.

Ina Genzou's glaze.

Ina Genzou’s glaze on the other hand is similar yet has some subtle differences. It seems to have a bit more milkiness to it. It has speckles yet they are smaller and the rim has beautiful drips. Somehow the colour seems slightly duller and more uniform. the colour of the clay where is can be seen through the glaze gives a very different colour change to that of the Yamafusa.

As you have seen from the previous photos these two pots at least on the surface seem very similar. What sets them apart for me is the smaller details. In fact detail is what really makes the difference for me when it comes to pots. In the next two photos I will look at one area of the pots. The drainage holes. Drainage holes are rarely seen when a bonsai is planted in a pot but when ever I purchase a pot I always try to look at the finish of these areas to determine quality. These details don’t necessarily mean it is a good pot or that it is a bad pot but I think that a pot that has well finished details will often set itself apart.

Yamafusa's Detail (drainage hole)

The Yamafusa pot’s drainage holes have been finished with a bevel both inside and out. This makes the holes look well finished and considered. It may seem a small touch but it is the details like this that really show that whom ever made the pot took the time to finish it to a high standard.

Ina Genzou detail (Drainage Hole)

The Genzou pot’s drainage holes are a little rougher. it appears as if they were punched or cut through the pot’s base and then not cleaned up or finished. I am sure they will drain and function just as well as the yamafusa pot but the visual appearance of them looks a less refined.

Does this make it a worse pot? Probably not. Both pots will work very well as bonsai containers. But should you have to choose between two similar pots a detail like this might be the deciding factor.

In the case  of the elm clump I think I will actually use the Genzou pot due to its added depth but that decision will have to wait for a few more weeks when I begin re-potting.

Both pots are from the cheaper end of the spectrum but both have some great qualities that could really add to the image of your bonsai.

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