Back in 2009, when we still lived in Utah, I fulfilled a longtime dream by buying a bonsai tree. I named him Elkhorn, after the dwarf from the D&D cartoon.
I’ve never had a green thumb — quite the opposite, really — so I put my heart into trying to do everything right with Elkhorn. Despite my best efforts, he died in 2011.
We were buds (no pun intended), and I felt terrible that he’d died under my care. It wasn’t until this year — 10 years later! — that I felt ready to try again with a new tree.
This little Chinese Elm arrived on the 13th, packed so well by Eastern Leaf that not only was he upright, intact, and unperturbed by the journey, his soil was still thoroughly moist after several days in transit. I’m still trying to decide which is his front view, but it feels like it’s probably this first one.
I’m not sure if the broken-off root or branch in the foreground is a mistake or part of a bonsai style I just learned about, where dead wood is created intentionally for aesthetic reasons (jin is a bare branch, shari is a stripped portion of trunk). Given the wire scars on the trunk, my layperson’s guess is that it’s a growth/pruning mistake, but I don’t mind it.
Here’s the other view, the one I was initially drawn to before I’d given them both due consideration.
After sleeping on it, and casting a wide net for possible names, I decided to name him Hulkling.
I like Hulkling as a character (I have a slabbed Hulkling cover, Young Avengers #9, hung on the wall); he’s smaller than Hulk, and working in a size joke is traditional; he’s a prominent gay character; he’s impulsive but easygoing; and he has an inner grace to him that I feel is reflected in this little tree’s sinuous shape.