An old Ume from the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum. Aside from the flowers, buds and aged bark, you might notice the hollowed out trunk (sabamiki). And if you look closely you can also see several uro (small hollows that are left on deciduous trees where branches have rotted and fallen off... though bonsai uro may well be man made).
Still on vacation, so once again we’ll dig into the deep riches of our archives (while continuing with our Omiya Bonsai Art Museum theme). This one is from July 2012 (with a little present tense editing).
Ume have several names: Prunus mume (or just Mume), Japanese apricot (or sometimes Japanese flowering apricot) and Chinese plum to name the most common. In the bonsai world, Ume seems to be the name of choice.
Though it's a little difficult to see, this Ume features some deadwood (shari) on the trunk. You usually see deadwood on conifers, as it tends to rot fairly quickly on deciduous trees. However, Ume deadwood rots slowly, so the shari on this tree appears natural (you can preserve deadwood for a long time with lime sulfur... this is one reason you see bonsai hundreds of years old that still have prominent deadwood).
Ume is an Asian native and even though they make great bonsai, for some reason not many nurseries grow them here in North America (Muranaka Nursery on the California central coast is one exception). As far as I know, they aren’t that difficult to grow as bonsai and they have numerous positive traits: they show the appearance of great age while still fairly young (due mostly to rugged bark and rapid thickening), they combine graceful elegance and tough looking ruggedness, and offer a striking display of buds and flowers late each winter. Altogether a noble candidate for your bonsai collection.
Ume trunks and branches often display graceful, fluid motion. This distinctive feature is one more reason that Ume make such great bonsai.