Ficus progress

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Ficus progress

Post  Damienindesert on Fri Apr 22, 2011 6:56 am

These are a couple or three of the trees I'm working on.



This is a big heavy F. microcarpa I bought from a Chinese friend of mine. The above picture shows what it looked like shortly after I got it. I had just trimmed straggling branches out of the way.




Above is what it looked like a month ago. I had removed a few large branches and plenty of secondary growth to allow light through the plant, did a little woodwork on old, big branches that were badly removed, and wired as much as I could. I couldn't remove the very front branch (difficult to see here) as it would bugger up the look of the tree, but it was sticking straight out the front, perfectly horizontally. That's now been bent up with tension wiring and supports, and twisted slightly to the side. It's still very bare, but thankfully full of new shoots now.



Above is what it looked like this morning. The front branch will eventually form a foliage pad that merges with the large one on the left. That left-harnd pad needs to drop down a bit, so I'm training the lower branches for it now. It's been suggested to me to remove the strands of aerial roots on the right, but I won't. Screw the rules. This tree has been given the name 'Madala', which means old man. I think it looks like a dignified old man with a walking stick Very Happy I'll give it two years or so and I think it will look the way I have planned.

Following is a series of another microcarpa, but much smaller, also from China. She's more feminine and has been named 'Modesty" . The roots give the impression that she's bent over trying to cover herself Crying or Very sad


02/01/11



03/11



04/11



Size comparison.



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Re: Ficus progress

Post  webos on Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:29 pm

Interesting Pot in Pic 1.. Any good photos of it that you can post for us?

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Damienindesert on Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:54 pm

Ugh. It's a nasty mass-produced thing with the paintwork (no glazing) not quite matching the relief patterns of the mold. You pay the shipping and I'll give it to you for free. thumbs up
First thing I did when I got the tree was change to a more conservative shallow rectangular (also mass produced but at least more subtle)

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Damienindesert on Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:35 pm

The big ficus is coming along slowly. I defoliated it around 2 months ago and there is a slight, but reasonable, reduction in leaf size. The tree is growing mad in the 46c heat and 80% humidity here, so I'll likely do another defoliation at the end of summer. No such thing as a cold winter here, so the trees grow all year round.

This is what it looks like now


..And this is a cg of what I'd like the tree to look like in the coming year or two.


Any comments or suggestions would be welcome. Very Happy

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Russell Coker on Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:51 pm

Nice ficus! Your last picture is a giant step in the right direction. Nice job!

R

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Damienindesert on Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:58 pm

Thanks very much Russel.

I'm really fond of this old tree and am really so chuffed with the forgiving way in which it's been responding to my depredations. Coming from a pretty tropical, wet place, I have a deep love of Ficus, so this guy's become my firm favourite. Reminds me of home I guess. The little one in the earlier pics is doing great, but I removed a big branch recently, that was just too thick for wiring...and too straight for loving Laughing . I've also mowed the apex down pretty aggressively, but like her giant counterpart, she's risen to the occasion and is shedding the commercial, mass-produced chinese exterior, to reveal a lovely tree inside.

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  EdMerc on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:32 pm

Nice tree. You are heading in the right direction. I would suggest that the lower branches be allowed to grow out even more than in your virt. The wider canopy will balance well with the strong trunk.

Very nice. Smile

If you don't mind sharing, where is home?

Take care,
Ed

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Ficus progress

Post  moyogijohn on Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:26 pm

You really have some nice ficus trees to work with !!! no winter must be really good also..looks like you are doing every thing just right...good luck take care john

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Ficus progress

Post  moyogijohn on Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:28 pm

You really have some nice ficus trees to work with !!! no winter must be really good also..looks like you are doing every thing just right...good luck take care john

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Ficus progress

Post  Ka Pabling on Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:18 pm

Nice job and very interesting trees,

regards
ka pabling

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Damienindesert on Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:05 am

Thanks for the advice and comments all.

@ Ed, your advice on widening the the bottom of the tree seems so painfully obvious now that I look at it. Thanks for that. It's one of those 'Why the %&*@ didn't I think of that' moments Laughing Oh, and to answer your question, I come from Scottish parents but grew up in Swaziland. I now call the far northeast of South Africa home, but I'm afraid I'm a bit of a bedouin and seldom settle in any place that long.

Although my wee Ficus are Asian, they look like miniatures of the F. sycamorus that make massive forests near my place.

Now, if I could only find tiny little tree ferns and some miniature monkeys to run around on the balcony Crying or Very sad

Below is another cg following Ed's advice. One thing is that aerial root on the right. In the earlier pics you can see a bunch of them and I explained why I wanted to keep them. They have caused that right-hand trunk to swell quite a lot over the years, so I reduced them to a few strands to minimise any further inverse taper. The problem is, if I were to completely remove them, I'd have to carve a substantial chunk off the bottom of the branch to pull it back into proportion. Apart from concerns over the health of the tree, it'll likely leave a nasty patch of scarring.


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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Damienindesert on Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:01 am

Here's that little one. Still looks like a French poodle, but it's getting better all the time.


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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Damienindesert on Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:19 am

...and here's a rough cg of how I'd like it to look in the coming years...


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Re: Ficus progress

Post  EdMerc on Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:44 pm

Damienindesert wrote:
... One thing is that aerial root on the right. In the earlier pics you can see a bunch of them and I explained why I wanted to keep them. They have caused that right-hand trunk to swell quite a lot over the years, so I reduced them to a few strands to minimise any further inverse taper. The problem is, if I were to completely remove them, I'd have to carve a substantial chunk off the bottom of the branch to pull it back into proportion. Apart from concerns over the health of the tree, it'll likely leave a nasty patch of scarring.

Aha! And so you have come to the number one problem with "banyan" style ficus bonsai. Eventually, the aerial roots overtake the trunk in mass and girth. This is fine if they are wrapped around the main trunk as they will eventually meld into one and create a very interesting trunk. Like yours. But the branch aerials, well, they look good for a time, then they don't. Then they sort of take over.

I would remove the right-most aerial and deal with the scar later. This can be managed fairly easy because it's a ficus.

Now, something that you may not have noticed (or maybe you did), is that the next aerial on the same branch is an issue too. Notice how it starts out on the branch, but reaches inward towards the trunkline. It's already getting weighty. Soon it will literally become inverse taper as it merges with the trunkline.

It may leave another large scar to deal with, but I think it's better then dealing with the inverse taper.

Just my opinion. I've had to make similar choices on some of my nicer trees. I know it's not easy to start hacking at them.

Good luck,
Ed

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Damienindesert on Fri Jul 15, 2011 2:58 pm

Hi Ed

I'll likely remove the outermost root then. The one closest to the trunk, I'm pretty happy with. If you look at the tree in life, although it does cause a slight inverse taper, it's well close enough to the trunk to actually merge in time, and there's plenty of space for it to swell there without ruining the profile of the tree. If need be, I'll induce a few more aerial roots (sphagnum wrapped in cling wrap) between the root and the trunk to 'even up' the taper.

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Russell Coker on Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:15 pm

Hey Damien.

Your last virt of the big ficus is really pretty. I'm with Ed, get rid of that root. Besides the trouble it's going to cause later, I personally don't think it adds much to the overall design of the tree. If you go back through the forum you'll find pictures of ficus in exhibitions from SE Asia and Taiwan that look like your virtual design. Most of the ficus you'll see with air roots have them closer to the trunk, unless those roots are the main feature of the tree. Seems like we westerners tend to go overboard when it comes to ficus and air roots, usually to the detriment of the design of the bonsai - imho.

R

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  EdMerc on Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:58 pm

You know best. It's your tree and what's most important is that you are happy with the results.

I think it's going to look great either way. And, you know, sometimes a little quirkiness gives a tree character otherwise unattainable.

Keep us posted on your progress. I'd really like to see how it turns out.

Ed.

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Re: Ficus progress

Post  Damienindesert on Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:34 pm

Hey Ed and Russel

I'll give serious consideration to both of your comments. I'll check out the tree tomorrow and see just how much of the nebari is incorporated in that one root. It's not the only root attached to a branch, but it is the most obvious one, now that you mention it.

I agree that we westerners use aerial roots to distraction sometimes. I know the Chinese guys are not particularly fond of them at all. I think much of it boils down to personal taste and like. Most bonsai trees, nomatter how skillfully sculpted, still look contrived to a point. Sometimes aiming at trying to simulate nature perfectly is fine, but it's not the be all and end all of bonsai. That small Ficus I posted earlier is very artificial looking on a level but I love the thing. Reminds me of something you might find in an Enid Blyton novel.

These things said though, the big Ficus loosely fits within classical lines of bonsai, and it would be nice to build it as a future showpiece. Wherever I go in the world from here, these two trees will most certainly come with.

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