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     Marijke & Piet.

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Ulmus parvifolia, Elm-tree pollarding and thinning


A previous post was named Ulmus parvifolia, Elm-tree prunning and was about interim pruning.

This post is about the annual pruning, in particular topping and thinning to retain the desired size and shape. This is also called pollarding, the annual removal of all of the previous year’s growth, resulting in a flush of slender shoots and branches each summer and/or spring.

For such a small tree this is a strong grower that requires rigorous pruning. Now that it has reached the desired size and shape, it is a matter of keeping it at this proportion.


Pollarding is an extreme practice of pruning to create a desired (unnatural) effect. It is the practice of pruning trees annually to remove all new growth. The following year, a profusion of new branches is produced at the ends of the branches. Topiary involves pruning trees and shrubs into geometric or animal shapes. Both pollarding and topiary are specialized applications that involve pruning to change the natural form of trees.


The third photo, taken from an other angle, a couple of years ago, more clearly shows the “twins” sokanshitate style in which this tree has been trained. The robust trunk has a very thick flacking cork-like bark even when the tree is very young. This in combination with the very small leathery, lustrous green single-toothed leaves, makes it a good bonsai candidate as well.

Related: Deciduous trees, The front garden compartment, Tsukubai, Bonsai.