What is it about these two photos of the same tree taken the same morning? What is the subtle but marked difference? Why is the modified style in the second photo better? It is all about TAPER, the natural progression from thick to thin that balances a tree. In the first photo a twin apical branch was removed and the new apex repositioned as this branch had more character than the original apex. But something was still wrong. The next step was to wire the upper right branch up to form an apex and remove the thicker branch. The better balance is immediately obvious. The lower branches still have to be wired and styled and once spring budding commences the apex will be lowered but the tree already has better proportions.

It is so easy to let the apex of a tree get out of hand and a bonsai artist must be prepared to redefine taper in order to balance the tree. This elm was purchased at the Illawarra Bonsai Show/Sale in May and it has a promising future. A modified angle change when it’s repotted and attention to the branches and it’s on its way.