Tag Archives: Ficus salicaria

A haircut

Developing a bonsai requires many steps. One critical step is allowing the bonsai in development to grow wildly. This allows the tree to gain strength and to form branches that will be used in its development.

Periodically the overgrown tree will be trimmed back, given a haircut to bring the design back to a more compact design while also keeping the needed branches and eliminating the ones that are not necessary. This process is repeated until the later stages of a bonsai’s maturity.

Once mature and the design is set growth is kept more restrained. The cycle of growth followed by trimming back is kept up for many years until the tree hits maturity when a more restrained growth and tim back cycle begins.

Willow Leaf fig that has been allowed to grow wildly in order to strengthen it, provide more branches for the design and to thicken the roots draped over the rock

Willow Leaf fig that has been allowed to grow wildly in order to strengthen it, provide more branches for the design and to thicken the roots draped over the rock

 

 

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Branches and foliage are reduced back and branches to be kept are selected – now further growth will be allowed 

Reverse taper

Trees ideally should have a wide root base that tapers up into the trunk. A bulge or lack of proper taper often ruins the visual flow from the rootline to the apex of the tree and is called reverse taper.

In this case several root cuttings of Willow Leaf fig, Ficus salicaria, were bound togeter in about 2006 and fused together to form a larger trunk accomplishing  in a shorter time than it woud take to grow the same diameter trunk in my plant room. Fusion was helped greatly by using a large container and allowing free growth of the tree.

The first shot is taken in 2009 when the fusion was successful but the fusion was not totally complete.

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2009, with trunks partially fused

A picture of the tree in 2014 shows good fusion and a reverse taper with the roots and base of the tree appearing narrower at the left side of the base than a bit farther up the trunk.

2014 showing the left side of the base of the tree with weak footage

2014 showing the left side of the base of the tree with weak rootage

Three roots were moved around from the left front and left back of the tree. Two of the three roots were fused to other roots at the base and a chisel was needed to separate them from the base, allowing the roots to be moved. One root at the back was just up-rooted and moved around to the left side.

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The lowest root on the back was simply dug out and easily moved around to the front

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Side root is fused to the base – it is separated with a chisel

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2015, the moved roots now enhance the base of the tree and eliminate the reverse taper

 

 

 

Bar branches, yes or no?

One of the most basic beginner rules is to avoid bar branches. That is to say remove one of two branches that appear on the same level but directly opposite each other. This rule as all rules for bonsai or any art form is often helpful in designing a basic bonsai for a beginner. In more mature trees and with mature bonsai artists the rule is often broken. See what you think with with this example.

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Same tree with mid-level lef branch removed

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Now the mid-level right sided branch is removed.

Which one looks the best is or the best one the original design and keeping the bar branches as you see below?

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Willow leaf fig as it exists now

 

Fig leaves

Ficus or figs are in a large family of plants showing many interesting and varied characteristics.

One of the most interesting aspects of various figs is the leaf. Leaves can be large, smooth or hairy, glossy or dull and have many, many other variations.

The photo below shows some fig leaves and their variation. The size of the leaves varies from 7″ to about 1″ on the right. All can be used for bonsai of various sizes depending on how much the leaves can reduce with proper culture and care.

Fig leaves from the left are benghalensis, ingens, religiosa, microcarpa and salicaria

Fig leaves from the left are benghalensis, ingens, religiosa, microcarpa and salicaria

Twisting and turning design

This is an exercise in bonsai creation that is just for fun. The plant is a Ficus salicaria, Willow Leaf fig,  grown from a root cutting. This was a very long root, perhaps 2 feet in length. Foliage has sprouted at the cut end but how to design a tree out of it?

One possibility is to place a lot of wire on it and to twist and turn and bend until the trunk is quite contorted. The result is as you see. The foliage canopy will need shaping but for now it is being left untouched to allow the trunk to grow and to hold the shape we have set into it with the wire. Literati or bunjin is the closest shape or style grouping in which this might fall.

I perhaps may change my mind and move the trunk into another shape.

Any thoughts?

The root cutting before it was shaped.

The root cutting before it was shaped.

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After wiring and twisting a shape emerges

Or is this shape more pleasing?

Another possible shape

Another possible shape