There are many ways to shape raw material into a bonsai. In this case the bonsai was created from a Ficus rubiginosa cutting. At first it was allowed to grow long and healthy in a large container. It was then chopped down to a short segment and it was allowed to grow for several years. Next stage is to select branches and apex.
In the last stages it was moved to a smaller container to develop secondary branches and reduce leaf size. This process has taken 7 years but can be accomplished in a shorter time if grown outdoors in a tropical or sub-tropical area and kept in a large container or the ground until the refinement stage of development.
Even raw materials can be transformed into nice bonsai with this sequence of development.
Very often I have some trees that just seem to be a puzzle. I can’t quite figure out what design might work for the tree. I usually put these on the bottom shelf and just let them grow and wait for a burst of inspiration. Perhaps the tree will speak to me and I can listen to it and style and train it to become a wonderful bonsai.
But, sometimes the tree isn’t speaking or I am not listening. Not all bonsai creations will be created “instantly”. Sometime the bonsai will evolve after the tree or the designer mature.
This is a pretty typical plant. Ficus rubiginosa, that one can purchase in a nursery. It has had little or no training and seems unlikely to develop into a bonsai tree.
At last one begin to see the potential bonsai emerging from its rather humble beginnings.
Ficus burtt-davyi can be a difficult bonsai subject. Sometimes it just won’t grow properly. This tree has been a problem for me over many years.
It has just not been vigorous and I have had to consider discarding it or perhaps re-styling it. My decision was to get radical and to cut the tree in half. One part will become a slant or windswept while the top portion with only one root was secured on a rock to justify its poor root system. Time will tell if I can bring these two to a satisfactory bonsai design.
The overall vigor of the tree may respond to less water, coarser soil and allowing it to rest during the shorter days of winter. Time will tell.
This Ficus microcarpa, Chinese Banyan, was a gift from bonsai friend, bonsai grower and dealer Bonsai Jack of Florida – http://www.bonsaijack.com
Jack sent me this tree after initially styling it in 2010. In the first few shots you can see how the top of the tree was totally removed and all the China grafted branches were removed leaving the wild form of Ficus microcarpa to sprout back and provide the new branches for the future structure of the tree.
The apex was so thin and not believable that I brought up two or three additional branches from the trunk and used electrical ties to force fusion and thickening of the apex. This worked very well and by October of 2014 I felt that even more thickening would be needed
The apex fusions did very well and were completely fused but the apex was still too thin to be believable as a good transition of the topped trunk so about 6 rooted cuttings previously taken of this same tree were attached with electrical ties to the apex and their roots inserted into a plastic baggie of soil also attached to the top of the trunk.
In the process of doing this second fusion set to the apex my assistant accidentally bumped the previously grafted right main branch and it was broken off.
To replace this another previously rooted cutting was inserted into a hole drilled into the trunk. The root was draped out of the drill hole and into its own pot of soil and covered with sphagnum moss.
The new right sided branch graft soon failed and I made a third attemp to get a right sided branch by doing an approach graft from the thin back branch brought forward and inserted into a fresh groove in the trunk. The graft was secured with staples as you can see below.
Time will tell how this all will turn out. So far I am quite happy with about 2.5 years of work and progress on this huge fig. Bonsai is a never ending process of refinement and change necessitated by how the plant grows.