Ficus retusa specimen bonsai tree

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This is what today’s subject looked like the last time I posted a pic of it.( It was on Facebook so don’t bother searching for it on the blog.) you can Friend Request me though.
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The Central Florida Bonsai Club does a “meet’n greet” at EPCOT’s annual Flower and Garden Festival and basically we sit at a table in the Festival building on the weekends (make sure you visit next year- March through May) and answer questions about bonsai.
We bring trees to show as well as trees to work on. It was at one of these meet’n greets where I did the first wiring job.
I got the tree from a man who was moving to an apartment building and couldn’t take care of it properly.
About 2 months previously, I had cut it back hard (actually Juan did; crying the whole time thinking he was killing it) and potted it in this deep mica training pot. Then I let it grow wildly. Thus the above picture.
I believe it was around April (2012) when I first wired it, and in the interim I’ve cut it back 2 or 3 times and also removed the wire.
This is how it is now:

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Front.

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Side and side.

It’s my turn to cook tonight so I have to alternate between bonsai and chicken. Let’s see how that turns out and what will be finished first.
Here are some detail shots of the hard cuts I did on this ficus.
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That’s the left side

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Right side

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Top, back.

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Compare the top to the first wiring photo and you can see how that silly whipdeedoo I wired into it has developed. Not bad.
Now,time to defoliate. Then turn the grill on to heat it. Then wire. It’ll be close as to who wins; ficus or chicken.

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I’m going to make my life difficult by using a technique for branch thickening that is hardly ever shown. I’ll remove all the leaves but leave the terminal bud in place. Usually, when I wire, I’ll cut the branches back (at least the tips) so I keep the silhouette. This time, so I get growth and thicker branches, the tips will remain.
Kinda unorthodox, but I can make it work. You’ll see.

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Halfway done.

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Good view of the backside.

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My mess. This is where I need that apprentice. To clean up behind me.

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Here is the nude shot. Sexy?
Some of those branches are long.
I have a few tricks though….trust me.
Time to light the grill.

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And move over to the deck.

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I’m only using these two sizes of wire. Don’t ask me what sizes they are. I’m not good at the metric system. Maybe 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 mm.
I don’t need to do major bending so I don’t need larger wire,
and for the smaller branches instead of smaller wire (which wont hold the branches with the vigorous growth i expect) I’ll do some “air wiring”. I’ll show you that later.
First branch. Then the chicken goes on the fire.
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If you’ve been pruning properly,your branches should have movement in them like this. It’s my opinion that to execute a “proper” looking tree we must use both “clip and grow” and wire.
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This branch, in the initial styling, is usually removed. It is on the top of the branch. But in this stage, it is used to build the second layer in the pad. Branch pads should not be flat except in the very initial styling.

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To incorporate the top branch you need to bend the main branch down a bit.

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And be sure that, even though you now have one branch above another, you don’t shade the lower branch.

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Here’s an example of the “air wiring” technique. That big loop on the end is unsightly but needed to hold the branch tip within the coil of wire. The wire is loose so that, 1. it won’t cut into the fast growing branch and 2. if you wrap a too thick wire onto a smaller branch tightly, you’ll probably crush that tender branch.

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First branch done.
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Here is an exceptionally long branch. There are two branches growing off this I can cut back to. This branch thickening technique will work as long as I have a terminal bud. Which I have on the side branch.

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I can cut here

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I’ll cut here though. It’s shorter. Less wire.

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Chicken. Seasoned with a blend of garlic and herbs. Wings and boneless/skinless breasts. Mmmmmm

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On the grill.
Have to hurry now.

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Look at tree, wire, look at grill

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No smoke, back to tree
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So how do I justify this sloppy anchoring technique? Well, there are two types of wiring. Training and show.
Training wiring is concerned with one thing only. Putting the branch where you want it. So, even though you have to apply the laws of physics, it doesn’t have to be pretty.(It should be organized though)
Show wiring is supposed to be as inconspicuous as possible. The main focus of show wire is to put the final details into place so that your tree is “show ready”. You use the smallest wire you can as well.(which won’t hold if the tree is actively growing)
This is not saying you shouldn’t learn both techniques.
If you’ve ever had a teacher, though, that tells you your wiring is crap and tries to say you should only use show wiring, it’s probably a good bet that he’s never developed a tree from raw stock. He’s also just being a bully.
So, with these branches, I’m not changing the angle off the trunk; I will only be adjusting the bends further out. Therefore I don’t need to anchor to the trunk. ‘Nuff said.

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Ahhhhh! Smoke! Chicken!

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Well, it turns out that the chicken won.
And it also has gotten too dark to take good pics.
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Looks like a Sleepy Hollow tree here, with the shadows and all.

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Looking down at the top.
My wife walks out and says “That’s a lot of wire!” She has a gift for understatement sometimes. Like most women though, she is a master of hyperbole.

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I almost won against the chicken.Almost. I had a lot of tree there though.
Here’s a good shot I took in the morning.
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Not so scary in the sun.

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Side and side

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Back.
So, with each successive wiring, you should have more branching.
Here’s the first wiring again

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And the second

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As always, I’ll post updates.
The chicken was perfectly cooked, by the way.
Maybe I’ll invite you over for BBQ one day.

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in refine and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Ficus retusa specimen bonsai tree

  1. Julie Trigg says:

    promise?

  2. Me thinks that’s my workbench.

  3. Darlene Kittle says:

    Nice.

  4. Joshua Daniels says:

    BBQ?? I’ll bring the beer!!!

  5. Ash says:

    What a fun and whimsical entry to read. If I didn’t live so far I would ask to be an apprentice part time and bring over marinaded meats to BBQ. Your tree is beautiful. I wish mine had roots and a beautiful shape like that.

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