Ficus Techniques : 56

Ficus Demonstration in South Africa

by Jerry Meislik

During my recent trip to South Africa I was invited to do a lecture demonstration for the Tzaneen Study Group at host bonsai master Hennie Smit's bonsai workshop. I was offered three possible collected Ficus natalensis to work on. After scrutizinig all three trees we decided to go ahead and shape out all three of the trees as time permitted.

I was fortunate to have the help of Hennie, Lampie Schoeman, Charles Ceronio and the study group members. Their hands on help and valuable suggestions really brought out the best in these collected trees. The study group was enthusisastic and pitched in with suggestions and ideas on design and alternate shapes.

Tree one, was the largest and had a fabulous trunk comprised of many aerial roots probably growing epiphytically over another dead tree underneath. Since the trunk itself was so fabulous it was key to feature it. Excess branching was removed and the flexible branches allowed easy placement of the few remaining branches. In just a short time ramification will be introduced into the branches and the tree can be completed.

Tree, two had a fabulous lower trunk but nothing much going on above the base. The decision was to remove nearly everything and to keep several primary branches, and regrow a better transition to the apex.

Tree, three was the least giving of the bunch and basically was reduced back to a wonderful trunk. Branches and apex will need to be grown. In the favorable climate of Tzaneen that will be a few short years.

I hope to see how these mature over the next few years.

Thanks to Hennie and to Charles for making this possible.

Ficus natalensis
Tree one, Ficus natalensis prior to any work, 2011

Beginning work on the tree

Sawing off excess branches, 2011

Getting help
Lampie Schoeman, Hennie and I attacking the tree from all angles, 2011

Charles, Hennie, and I
Charles, Hennie and JM with the finished tree, 2011

Tree two
Tree two, prior to work showing the fabulous base, 2011

Back of tree two
Back of the tree, 2011

Front of tree two
After shot of front of tree two, 2011

Tree #3
Tree three before, 2011

Hennie sawing
Hennie using power-saw to taper the trunk, 2011

The study group
The study group posing for the parting shot, 2011


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