Hanging out with the Austin Bonsai Society

I had the pleasure of giving a demonstration and workshop in Austin, Texas, this past week. I was invited out to their beautiful meeting space at Zilker Botanical Garden.

We share a lot native elm trees with central Texas but one in the particular that I’ve always have wanted to work with is the cedar elm, Ulmus cassifolia. I gave a presentation on American elm species with a concentration on southeastern range elms. I’m hoping to collect with some of the local club members in the mid winter as they are not common in southeast Louisiana. Cedar elms do not grow like they do in central Texas where they have drier summers. In fact, Texas cedar elms have a much thicker and craggier bark then any other elm I’ve see in my part of the world. The wild cedar elms can be found along old cow pastures where the cows have nibbled them down into compact twisted shapes.

The exposure to the environment is what I allowed to dictate my approach with the on the demo tree. The tree I worked on was collected by the club president Roland. It was in great health, had really nice dark green leaves, and plenty of branches to choose from. The tree was styled into a multi-trunk broom style. I did not want make any major cuts on the tree because it was one of the very few collected trees that I’ve had the chance to work on that did not have a large chop wound.

The tree was raffled off at the end of the meeting which I find to be the best way to support the club members. I really enjoyed my stay in Austin and loved the sites and sounds along the way. I would like to thank Summer, club vise president, and Roland, club president, for showing me the local hang out spots and the interesting eclectic bars and restaurants. I can not wait to see the club again in the early spring to give a demo and workshop on bald cypress.

Pictured above is a cedar elm I found growing straight out he heavy lime stone hills leading down into a natural spring. It was truly a sight to behold and seeing the resilience of the species!

Photo credit for the demo at the club meeting goes to the club historian, May Lau.

Workshop on seiju elms that was hosted at MBP Bonsai Studio. I had a great time working on bonsai material with the club participants there. Mike, the shop owner, had some outstanding bonsai specimens. I will have to get good photos of them on my next visit and do a nice post just on those trees!

Mike had a few really great dwarf kumquats avaiable, including one of the two pictured above were over 30 years old grown from seed. Kumquats are probably my second, um, maybe third favorite species for bonsai of all time.