Some quick and harsh lessons from the Sunshine State.

Wow.
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I bet you’d like to own this tree.
Good size, not a bad pot.
It was styled by a pretty big name in the business too!
Wanna buy it?
No, you don’t.
Why?
Look close at that right branch.
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And there, on the left, in the back.
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That’s pretty severe, wouldn’t you say?
This is worse.
Ready for the horror?
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I am not even sure what happened here, but it looks like the Hydra. Maybe Heracles retired to Florida and took up bonsai.
As for the nebari or buttress, at first glance it’s pretty wide and tapered but, examining it closer….
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…it’s not very attractive. It’s a flat plane being presented in the front. The back has more dimensionality to it.
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I think there might be something better underneath these roots, but I’m not going to go digging into them right now, I’ll wait for spring.
Lesson number one: if the roots haven’t been improved, it’s not really anything more than a stock plant. Not even a pre-bonsai.
And that’s an expensive lesson; you might pay anywhere from $200-400 on the internet for this tree because it’s in a bonsai pot and has a full canopy. I see that all the time, a tree that looks pretty, sold as a bonsai but, unfortunately, the fundamental root work hasn’t been done.
So now I have this ficus “bonsai”, what’s my first step?
I’m going to remove some wire, I think.
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I can unwind the wire in most places but, since it’s grown in so much other places, it might be better to cut some off.
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You know what? The whole thing has to go, I’ll deal with it later.
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That will make an interesting cutting.
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That escalated rather quickly, and I’ve just begun.
This is technically a twin trunk tree, but both trunks are of similar size, which is boring, and the split occurs a little too high in the tree. I would have cut one off in the initial styling. It doesn’t have as bad of a wire cutting problem, maybe I can salvage something….
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….hmmmph.
There isn’t much taper here.
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As was drilled into me in my formative years,
“Taper, taper, taper!”
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That’s better.
Well…maybe.
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Maybe not.
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It’s like a broomstick, really.
Lesson two: Taper, taper, taper!
The quickness of the taper, or, the ratio of the base width and the trees height, really depends on that initial angle of the roots coming out of the soil.
This tree is really indicating to me that it wants to be a shorter tree.
Where’s my saw.
That back trunk needs to go too.
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What do you think?
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There is a long shoot here:
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It needs to be cut back or all the energy that is in the trunk and roots will be pushed into it and the top will slow down or even die back from it.
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Now it’s fertilizer and water and allow the tree to grow until, ah…summer, at least.
(*disclaimer alert* I say this all the time but there are hundreds of new readers every day- I am in Florida and when I do things to trees may not be the same time that you do things. It is mid November as I write this. Truth be told, I wouldn’t recommend a fellow Floridian do this now.)
What about all those trunks I cut off?
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I’m not going to waste them, I’ll try to root them as cuttings.
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To prepare the cuttings, I remove the lower growth and branches (don’t cut them off flush, leave a small nub, it is from those points that new roots usually emerge.) I also trim the growing tips off to cut back on transpiration and to stimulate new growth.
The Hydra should take root easily:
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It already has roots.
Now what?
I’ve just set this tree back at least a few years, how can I make any money on it now. (You see, I ultimately acquired it to resell at the nursery…..which reminds me about a bit of advice I was given recently. A bonsai professional told me that I should take my trees and just make them pretty enough to sell them quickly, and then, after the sale and hopefully with a new client that needs help, any major work that’s done to the tree should be billed to the new owner as styling and upkeep…..oooops, maybe I shouldn’t have told that little secret. It’s ok, he doesn’t read my blog, at least, I don’t think he does.)
Anyway, I have a new tree at the nursery for sale, it used to look like this:
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And it may again, some sunny day in the future.
I think I like this angle as the front.
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It’s really extreme what’s happened to the tree, it being November and all. Why, then?
First, it makes for good copy. It’s dramatic. If I could have used a chainsaw I would have.
Second, there were lessons to be learned (the third lesson, in case you didn’t notice it, has to do with how much work needs to be done and how much time to grow back. If a tree is 20 years old but it’s going to take ten years to fix those flaws, it’s not worth the price that’s on the pricetag).
Third, I wouldn’t have cut it unless this bud wasn’t here.
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I sealed the trunk chop too.
And last, I’m pushing my trees, trying to figure out the real limits of what I can do and at what time:
I’m questioning and asking “Why?”
That’s what I do.

Posted in Advanced basics, branch placement, Horticulture and growing, redesign, refine | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Podocarpus restyle and carving

Somehow, I always end up with the problem trees. Take this podocarpus.
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I mean, it has potential but it has some real flaws.
An awesome base.
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Terrible deadwood though.
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Good branching.
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It looks like it might have been a twin trunk at one point.
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Or something like that, there was a huge chunk sawn off there.
Looks like I need to weed.
Where are my chopsticks?
Ok, that’s better.
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Ok, I used tweezers, not chopsticks.
The first real decision is to figure out the front.
The current front.
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Which is textbook correct; it is the widest root spread.
But the structure of the tree doesn’t work with it anymore.
Usually the front is within a 90 degree arc radiating from that widest view.
How’s this?
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Nah.
I like this better.
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I can work with that.
Now I need to trim the foliage so I can see what I’m doing.
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Very bushy.
That’s funny, a bush. A podocarpus is generally used as hedge material; In Florida it’s used to hide the outside a/c unit, but it’s really a full size tree, reaching 60-70 feet tall.
Considering that it’s native to southern Japan (it’s the official tree of the Chiba Prefecture) you don’t see it much as bonsai there (I don’t think I’ve ever seen an example). I have seen it used often in Chinese penjing ( it’s also native to China). In Japan it’s called kusa-maki, which sounds like grass-sushi (maki is the japanese word for a sushi roll. And kusa, as in kusamono, is grass or a wild plant.)
In contrast, podocarpus, in Greek, means “foot fruit”, which is bizarre, considering the fruit is edible (those Greeks were weird, eating feet and all).
Rolling in the grass and eating feet…..I’ve seen that movie, it’s a French production, I believe.
Sorry, back to the tree.
There’s a lot of foliage, which is good. It means it’s healthy.
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What I’m basically doing is a kinda-sorta defoliation, cutting the leaves in half or removing them completely.
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This podo has longer foliage than most and it’ll be a bit difficult to reduce the size of the leaves but it’s not impossible.
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What I am not doing (yet) is cutting the branch tips.
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Not for any reason except to preserve the branch length. I’ll cut most of them after wiring.
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I think I’ll carve next.
I need to figure out a way to mitigate this straight line.
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Maybe with foliage?
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Maybe.
I know that I want to preserve the roll over.
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That’s a sign of a mature carving, you can’t fake that.
But this has to be fixed.
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And here too, especially here.
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I’m not sure if they expected it to heal or what.
Kinda like this wound on the side.
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I mean, Why?! Have we not heard of jin?
The top jin is just a bit artificial for my tastes.
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I’m not one for sharp sticks.
Since the wood has been treated with lime sulfur, I’d better take some precautions.
A hat to protect my luxurious locks, stylish safety glasses to look cool, and a pink colored bandana with skulls on it to look badass.
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My son is similarly attired, he just looks cuter doing it though.
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A little about my carving gear.
I believe that the most important safety device I use is my variable speed foot pedal.
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It’s just like a gas pedal, the more I push on it, the faster the tools speed goes. That’s important because some attachments aren’t rated for full speed. And when I take my foot off the pedal, the tool stops (a distressing number of carving tools has just on/off switches that are hard click, locked switches).
Before the foot pedal, I dropped a tool and it was quite exciting to watch it bounce all around the room, jumping and spinning in the air until I was able to unplug it. I have scars, maybe I’ll show them to you one day.
Let’s get carving.
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I can see the light!
One of my friends was watching me carve one day and he said that he loved it when I poked holes in the wood with my tool. Make your own joke there.
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You can see that it’s a progressive process. I use different shaped tool heads for each step.
I also use a torch to burn off tool marks, rough edges and pithy fibers.
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Then I use a wire brush to “age” the surface. It brings out the grain and adds detail and movement to the convex surfaces.
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When I carve, I try to make the deadwood three dimensional, I don’t draw lines in the wood, I make features that create darks and lights, line and movement.
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Looking better.
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And just to shut up that one dude, up in the peanut gallery, who’s about to ask,
“when will you put lime sulfur on?”
I’m gonna say,
“uhhh….how about now, ya’ jerky!”
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I’m going to let it soak in overnight and we will come back tomorrow morning to see how well one coat does.
At least I didn’t make too bad of a mess so far.
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Where’s my helper with the broom?
G’nite, sweet prince.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Woke up.
Got out of bed.
Coffee…….
Let’s see how the old wood is standing up this morning……uh…whoops….heehee…
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It bleached it a little.
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I’ll shall apply another coat of lime sulfur and, whilst it cures (sorry, I’ve been reading Brit bonsai blogs a bit of late) I’ll water the nursery.
One hour later…. and I’m done, I’ve gotten my feet wet and everything.
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Let’s see how white we’ve gotten (I think they call it gentrification).
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A little better, I’ll put one more coat after I wire.
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Or, as my wife calls it, creating a magnetic field coil.
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I trimmed most of those growing tips as I placed the branches. The tree has good ramification and branching but it’s a little bare right about here.
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This back branch should give me something to help fill it in in a few months. Hopefully.
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It’s such a difficult tree to photograph I suggest you look at the YouTube video here.
The before:
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Mid styling:
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And the end:
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It’s a good start.
I called it a problem tree but you know, I love them. I love the challenge, the uniqueness and just the plain cussedness of working to make them into art.
Keep them a’comin’!

Posted in branch placement, carving, redesign, wiring | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

A big, collected holly tree or, you can prick your finger but not finger your….

Gulfport Mississippi, the last working day of my trip.
I was invited by my (new) friend Buck to visit his home on my way back and he’d hire me for a private styling session on some trees.
Of course I said yes, wouldn’t you?
Especially with promises of beer and steak.
After a walk around his collection he showed me the two trees I was working on.
A big ilex cornuta bufordii.
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And a rather sad looking bald cypress. IMG_9330.JPG
It was suffering from typical male pattern baldness, it was bald on top and only had growth on the sides.
I also had a helper.
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Lots of work, let’s get to it then.
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Buck had collected it a few years ago and he cut it to a line then. In those years it’s gained a lot of strength (it’s best to wait at least two years to work on a collected tree, unless it’s a tropical).
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Think of it like this, you’ve just torn it out of the ground, you need to let it grow; only in growing can it gather strength. Through the leaves and chlorophyll (photosynthesis) are how a plant feeds itself, that’s it, fertilizers are just vitamins, not food.
This tree is pretty healthy.
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The leaves are a dark green and the canopy is full.
The only mar is just a slight one.
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On the older leaves, there live a bit of snow scale. It’s pretty common and an oil spray will take care of them.
If I were to keep the leaves, that is.
You all know my modus operandi by now.
First, some ambition and anesthesia to steel myself to the task. Something mean, I think, to compliment the sharp, mean leaves of the holly.
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Some initial pruning.
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Look! An ilex vomitoria seedling.
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Isn’t it cute?
Buck has wild ilex all over his property. If I lived here I’d have a hundred of them as bonsai.
When I come back next year I’ve been promised by a few people that they’d collect some for me.
Enough fantasizing, I’m working here.
Begin defoliation.
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A word to the act of defoliation, in this instance, I’m mostly removing the old leaves, keeping some green near the end. There will be another flush of growth (this all occurred about a month ago on my Louisiana Tour) and then it’ll settle down for winter. I’m wiring every branch as well and, by keeping the wire on over the winter, it will set the branches with minimal wire scarring.
Wire. Every. Branch.
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Now for some carving.
I said he had cut it to a line after collecting. An ilex cornuta won’t heal a big wound very well.
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I have just a few scars to clean up and start them on their way to natural looking-ness.
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I like the way that looks…..reminds me of something….
While I’m carving I might as well work on the cypress.
What often happens when collecting a cypress is that it will only sprout back from the bottom.
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There’s not much you can do except either cut it off and grow a short tree or, what I’m going to do, make it look like the whole top died out.
Ready?
Before carving.
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And after.
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I’ve seen trees like this in the swamps. They might have been stuck by lightening or maybe the top got ripped off and it’s died back to the lowest branch.
I won’t try to style those lower branches now, it needs to rest and go dormant. Next year after the spring growth will be best time to do some wiring.
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That was fun.
Now it’s time to relax and have some steak and..
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Iced green tea with honey.
I actually don’t like alcoholic beverages with food. To my palate, the food just makes the drink taste like pure alcohol.
The next morning, I set up the holly for a picture.
What do you think?
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A little about a private session before I go.
When you hire an artist like me or Owen Reich in for a private session, we can only do as much as you ask of us.
Some people just want their trees styled, and that’s fun for me, I like to style trees. As I work, I will try to explain what I’m doing, but, unless you ask questions, I can’t tell you everything I’m doing. Buck was good at prodding me, so much that, after I left he went and found some better power carving tools for his use.
But if you want to know how to wire, like when it’s acceptable to cross your wire or how to anchor, ask. We wire so fast that, you might miss what we are doing.
Speaking of private sessions, there is an opportunity to win one with me for those readers in Florida or willing to travel.
I’m hosting a workshop at the nursery taught by two great Florida artists, Toby Diaz and Hiram Macias. The trees are excellent collected Escambrons (claredendron aceuleatum) from Puerto Rico. The details are on this link.
It is scheduled for Saturday, December 13. The participants will be entered in a drawing to win a private bonsai session with me. If you want to see the trees off of Facebook, go to my website here.
Anyway, after a quick run through of Buck’s collection, this time with evaluations and strategies as to what he should be doing, it was time to go home.
Well….after a quick detour to Mobile, Alabama to see Joe Day and his trident maples.
But that’s another blog.

Posted in branch placement, carving, goings, rare finds, yamadori | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Willow leaf ficus: What to do after it’s grown back in

I’m early and I’m sitting in the parking lot.
The gate is locked.
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I’m at the Brevard Bonsai Society’s Annual Zoo Show at the Brevard Zoo.
Might as well do something productive.
A willow leaf ficus I brought along just for this occasion.
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I worked on it maybe a month ago, but I didn’t blog about it, so this is the first time you’ve seen it.
At least I think so. I might have posted it on various social media platforms.
It’s gotten somewhat shaggy since I’ve worked on it, as to be expected.
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After an initial styling (or even the second or third styling) I will let the tree run wild to regain strength after the brutal beating I just gave it.
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Time for some more, should I say, gentler discipline.
First, I remove the wire…..uh oh, do I have any wire? Tools?
I left all my stuff in my booth, behind that locked gate.
Good thing I keep a spare set of tools in my car (What?! You don’t?)
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But, I don’t have wire…..except for what I take off, I’ll have to be creative.
I need a work surface.
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Too high, maybe on the hood…..
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Spectacular, they choose this time to turn on the sprinklers.
I know, in the back.
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That works.
I get the old wires off.
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I’ll need more though, I found these strewn about my van.
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It’s not enough.
Let me prune, maybe someone will show up in the meantime.
Some establishing shots.
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You may be thinking,” Wow, where do I start?”
This is the easy part. Start at your basic lessons.
Any branch growing down, up, or in the crotch of a branch, prune off.
Any place there are multiple shoots from one spot, keep the strongest one and prune out the rest.
With this tree, that’s a lot.
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That leaves us (get it, leaves…leaf) with this.
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Then a quick shaping for branch length.
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Now it’s time to wire, but I need some #1 wire desperately….wait, the box I’m using, I think I have some in there from the New Orleans trip.
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Yes! Back in business!
Before wire.
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After.
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And I work my way up to the top of the tree where I have the bent over apex I use when doing an initial styling.
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It’s called the “Puerto Rican Top”.
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Basically, you bend over the apex and turn it into a side branch and use a side branch as the new “apex”.
It accomplishes three things: one, it enhances taper because you’re obviously going from thick to thin, you are putting movement into the tree and, it fills in the top so that the tree looks more developed after the styling. This last helps when you bring the tree home after a meeting and your wife sees it. She is less likely to say “You payed how much for that stick?!?”
But it is a temporary solution.
The next step is to start cutting it back for taper.
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Almost done….
Wait! The gates are open!
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Finally, I really have to take a….um, I have to perform my daily constitutional.
Let me load up here and I’ll be back to the tree in a second.
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Oh! Lookie here, it’s my demo tree for the afternoon show.
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It’s a ficus phillipenensis…what could I possibly do to it?
Man, I gotta go……..…………………………………………………..
Ok, I’m back.
Where was I?
Ah, my booth.
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And the ficus salicaria.
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I’ve left this one branch in the back.
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I’ll sometimes have my “number one branch” be a back branch just to annoy people.
I don’t think I need it here though.
Are you ready?
Here it is…
Top
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Side
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Side
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And the front.
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Not bad. People at the show kept bugging me because they wanted to buy it.
It’s not for sale yet, sorry.
And you’re wondering about that demo tree, the phillipenensis, right?
It’s on my Facebook page- Adam’s Art and Bonsai Studio Nursery.
Go check it out.
And make sure you check out the zoo show next year, the club is filled with great people with awesome trees.
See ya’.

Posted in branch placement, goings, progression, refine, updates | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

How about a dramatic chop? Will that interest you?

Warning: even though this is the middle of November, I want you to know I practiced the abuse you are about to witness a month ago, before my Louisiana trip.
And, I must reiterate, I am in Florida, don’t do this in Minnesota.
Here’s the poor victim.
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Ficus microcarpa née retusa, in the vulgar tongue, tiger bark ficus.
Are you ready?
It’s not gonna be pretty, sorry.
Oh, did you notice the broken branch?
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That’s what happens when you try to bend an unbendable branch.
I didn’t need it anyway, first amputation.
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The roots need just a little work.
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I’m going to try to rake out the roots, it being so late in the season and all.
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Maybe I’ll get a workout today.
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So far so good…..uh oh! There’s a giant root in the middle that needs excising.
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Breakin’ out the saw!
That’s a big chunk of root.
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I’m going to have to be a little more, ah..aggressive, as it were.
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Regular tools ain’t gonna cut it here…..sorry, bad pun.
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Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.
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I might as well fix the roots too.
This grouping needs to be bent over and simplified…..I really need to focus on it a bit….
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And this one is too chunky on the end but, more importantly, it needs to be bent up and flattened out.
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I undercut the bottom to help bend it (we don’t need another breaking incident)
Some chopping.
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And zer roots ees done.
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I know, I was just going to comb them out. It’ll be ok, promise….I can see the future! (Actually, since it’s been a month and it’s growing again, I can safely say that what I’m doing here is not going to kill it. Or didn’t kill it. Or won’t….time travel grammar and getting the tense correct is hard).
Since I chopped the bottom back so hard and traumatized about 2/3rds of my readership, I might as well go for 100%.
Are you ready for the top chop?
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I think you are….you’ve been waiting the whole post.
Why am I chopping it?
Easy, there isn’t any taper (or very little) in the trunk.
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And with such beautiful roots, why shouldn’t the top follow?
And I know that I’ll get new buds all over the tree.
Here’s an example from earlier in the year on another tiger bark.
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I chopped it just above my ring finger and it’s grown about 40 new shoots; so many that I’ll need to thin it out or I’ll get a big ugly knob of a trunk.
So…as you can guess…it’s the saw again.
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And I get a big cutting too!
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You bet that will root.
Here’s the tree….
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…..a little more pruning….
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It looks like a voodoo talisman or some weird harvest doll.
Freaky…I need to put it into a pot before it gets up and starts dancing.
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Looks like it fits.
First, with a mostly rootless tree like this, fill up the pot with soil.
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Then you, gently but firmly, push the trunk into the soil, rocking and twisting it down to the level you want it.
This ensures you don’t have any gaping air pockets.
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I made sure to tie it down into the pot….I don’t want any nighttime visitors seeking revenge….
I’m fertilizing heavily.
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And that’s it.

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This is the “front”, as far as it even having one yet.
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What I did here was a step in improving a piece of material that had good potential (but not necessarily style-able yet) and setting it on its path to being a good tree.
Most professional bonsai people would have tried to make it pretty in one step, to make it easier to sell more quickly, but I’m more interested in the art and the growing and the teaching more than I am in the selling.
Now, I think I need to tie the pot down to the bench too, that’s a creepy looking thing.
Is anyone in Minnesota looking to buy a tree?

Posted in redesign, roots, tips and tricks | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Beating a water oak, ficus, and a boxwood with a red stick

And….. I don’t remember what day it is but whatever day it is, it must be Baton Rouge. At least.
Time to have some coffee with Lowell Tilly.
Man, that guy can drink coffee.
And he has some trees too, wow.
His main interest is the live oak style (which isn’t generally done with an oak).
Here’s a few boxwoods he’s worked on.
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I arrived at Lowell’s house around noon, I guess, and he already had a few people and trees ready for me to work on.
He gave me a brief tour of his collection….and some coffee.
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Then it was to work, an azalea.
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When pruning an azalea keep in mind that, unlike most plants, it is not apically dominant. You could actually kill the top if you prune it too hard.
That’s one reason that azalea bonsai tend to be taller than is normally accepted (the other reason is there’s more tree to hang the flowers off of).
Then we have a ficus microcarpa I bent down into a cascade.
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I don’t think she expected that but I think she likes it.
Then, my favorite, some carving.
Lowell had a water oak (quercus nigra) or one of the various mutt species associated with it.
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It’s a tree that tends to be short lived in the ground but could have potential as a bonsai.
This one is half dead, which might have been from being too shaded (they need FULL sun).
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My strategy carving this tree is to keep the long branches but reduce and hollow out the trunk.
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Here’s a YouTube video for your amazement and my edification:
click here, no…here
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I’m not going to style the tree because, it being deciduous and it living in a semi tropical environment, I could kick it out of dormancy and weaken the tree come real winter (the cold could kill any new growth) and then there won’t be much energy left for the spring burst of growth.
After that it was time for some coffee and then dinner (crawfish étouffée).
And some coffee before bed too.
The next morning, after breakfast and coffee, we went on a tour.
I got to see the LSU campus (with some great live oak and crepe myrtle)
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I visited a real plantation house.
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And I toured the Louisiana Museum, where I learned about the ancient Mississippian mound builders, Andy Jackson, sugar cane, and Huey Long.
By that time it was time for a little pick me up. We got a coffee and had some chicken and sausage gumbo (without okra for some reason. Can it even be called gumbo if there’s no okra?)
After that I saw the best looking lantana I had ever seen.
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Talk about oak tree style. That is, indeed a lantana.
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With but moments to spare, we finally make it to the meeting.
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By which point, looking at all the trees I have to work on, I could really use a coffee.
This a pic of Lowell taking a pic of me.
If you zoom in on the lens you can see infinity (after about six coffees, that is)
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I didn’t get all the pics but here’s a boxwood (the lady brought three!)
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And, finally, a big ficus salicaria just screaming for a trunk chop.
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Where does it need to be chopped?
Here:
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Did I chop it?
Nope.
Wrong time of the year.
Bonsai is art, but it’s also horticulture.
The tree would live and grow and put out branches etc….but the top most likely wouldn’t root at this time and it’d be a shame to throw it out.
And, except for some boudin and cracklings, that is my Baton Rouge adventure.
Thanks to all who had me (and Lowell and his family, especially for the home cooking and the coffee).
I will see you all soon!
Next stop, Gulfport Mississippi.
Oh, where’s the red stick? I was in Baton Rouge, or, red stick…..

Posted in carving, goings, rare finds, wiring | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Challenge: get this ficus green by December 31st

I have taken upon myself a very difficult task: to get this tree green and pretty by December 31st.
Here is the tree.
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I picked it up from Old Florida Bonsai for a good price but, alas, without a pot.
Oh, look!
A pot.
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It’s a big pot.
It’s a big tree too.
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What kind of tree?
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Awwww, it’s a weeping fig.
Or, as I prefer to call it, ficus benjamina.
That’s right, go ahead and pour the derision and scorn over my head like that green slime on the old TV show “You can’t do that television!”
Why? Why did I spend good money on this tree?
Well, for one, it’s big. Let’s go back to the first photo:
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For scale, the tires on the cart are ten inches tall.
Second, I feel confident (I’m still crossing my fingers though) that I can green this up by my oh-so-short deadline (it’s the beginning of November. We are talking two (cold) months here in la Florida).
I have a secret weapon today though.
My youngest son, Mathew is helping me.
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He’s smarter than me, he’s wearing gloves.
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Let’s get to it, first, root work…..what?
Root work in November on a tropical?
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I thought, Adam, that you only recommended root work in the summer on a ficus?
I do, I do, but…..BUT…this is a case where I’m going to have to invoke the “do as I say, not as I do” rule.
I’m in Florida, I should have (mostly) a month of 60 degree Fahrenheit nights ahead of me.
I’m still gonna ask you, my dear readers, a favor…..pray for the tree.
Right now, the root mass is square.
The pot is oval.
I know I’m a bit of a rebel but, generally, a square peg doesn’t fit into a round hole.
Unless……
Where’s my saw?
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Imma gunna need some more implements.
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Wow, these roots are tough. I’m actually breaking a sweat.
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Except for those wedges I sawed off, I’m really just combing the roots out.
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While Mathew cleans up after his dear-ol’-dad…
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….I prepare the pot.
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Wow, that is a big center hole. I have shohin trees that would fit through that hole.
I got the pot a few years ago for very cheap money.
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Did I have a tree or even a tree in mind for it?
Nope. I bought it just in case.
This is one of the best tips I have for you: if you see a unique pot for a good price, buy it.
Pots, unlike a tree, don’t die!
I’m not sure what country the pot is from, but here’s the chop.
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It doesn’t matter to me, really, I like the pot and it will work today.
The soil I’m using is a mix of pumice (sifted DryStall, what a waste, I lost about a third of it), red lava, calcined clay, sifted pine bark and expanded slate.
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My standard mix mostly.
Now for the big decision: where is the front of this tree.
Here:
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Or here:
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Mathew, or should I say, “Mario”….
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….prefers this side.
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I told you he was smarter than me.
The tree is so big it needs some double chopsticking.
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Then it’s a maximum strength prescription: I put fertilizer (Milorganite), some chelated iron (granular Ironite, to help green up the leaves faster), a granular systemic insecticide (Merit), and a pre-emergent herbicide (Oh2, kinda like Preen).
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Quite a lot of things, I know, but it’s gonna take all I have to get the tree growing.
I might even (gasp!) have to resort to some fish emulsion.
I think I have a good chance, what do you think?
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It might even be getting greener already.
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Wish me luck.
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I’m gonna need it.

Posted in Horticulture and growing, rare finds, roots | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments