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Author Topic: Contorted ficus cascade  (Read 910 times)
AlexV
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« on: February 10, 2013, 02:35 PM »

This is a tree that I bought from Lone Pine Nursery right before I left California in 2009 as a rooted cutting in a 4" pot.  I absolutely love the foliage which takes on a nice dark green and has branches that naturally zigzag.  It grows like a weed, and I have had it under 24/7 HPS lamps in the winter and outside in summer.  This variety of ficus will put on 3-4 1" thick branches in a single growing season under these conditions.  I have taken cuttings off it, which root easily, and this one tree has spawned a couple dozen others, the farthest along now have an almost 2" caliper at the base of the trunk and nice spreading nebari.  Like I said, they grow like weeds.

This is one of the few trees I have taken pictures of at various stages.  I learned a lot, and realize that it has some flaws that might prevent it from becoming a really good bonsai.  However, most of the real problems can be solved by letting the lower trunk thicken up (which will also help seal up some of those wounds).

The first 2 pictures are from 2010 right before I seriously butchered it by removing 3 1" thick branches.

The second picture is right before I tried approach grafting a couple branches in 2011.  I learned an important lesson, which is always wire the branch that will be the approach graft, as it snapped the bottom of the tree off and I ended up having to use one of the new grafted branches as the new leader.
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AlexV
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2013, 02:36 PM »

An initial wiring put some of the branches in place, but right after this picture was taken I decided I wanted less branches coming off the trunk, since I will show it with leaves and I am a fan of negative space in bonsai.
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AlexV
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2013, 02:41 PM »

This is the tree as it looks now.  I am happy with the upper branch, and so pruned, defoliated and wired it.  The wiring is pretty crappy, but practice is slowly improving my wiring.  The lower branches need to grow out and be pruned back, but one escape branch towards the bottom will be allowed to extend for a year or so to help heal some of the remaining wounds and make the transition to the lower portion of the trunk smoother.

The third pic shows the tree's real problem.  That approach graft was never meant to be a new trunk, the angle is all wrong.  I am hoping that letting the end run free will reduce the problem a bit.  If not I have several other mother trees that I have twisted up branches on and will take cuttings this summer.  Live and learn right?
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AlexV
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2013, 02:49 PM »

So obviously this pot is not the tree's final home.  The pot below is by Sara Rayner, and one that I like very much and is the right size for a show pot.  The root stand I bought from a fellow BIB member who had 2 just like it he had brought back from China.  The root stand is my favorite piece of bonsai paraphernalia I own.

When the tree ends up in this pot (a year or 2 probably) I will tilt it down to make it more of a true cascade.  I will also let the branches fill out before it is shown.  Originally I had intended one side to be the front, but now I may switch that since the side that is currently the back has significantly less scars.  Luckily I don't have to make any extreme choices right this minute.

I have really enjoyed watching this tree develop, and it has taught me several extremely valuable lessons.  Lessons I am glad I didn't have to learn on an already established tree.  The next round of contorted ficus will be better.

Cheers,
Alex
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tmmason10
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2013, 12:31 PM »

Alex, nice progression and I think it's a good image. I see what you mean about the angle of the gift but it will be something to live with. I want a root syand badly, very jealous.
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AlexV
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2013, 12:20 PM »

Thanks!  I think that if I let the trunk below the graft grow, it may sort itself out eventually.  That is my hope at least.  We will see how it does in the next couple years.

Alex
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