If you are a friend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr you’ll remember that I teased you with this pic about a week ago:
If you’re not, then you are seeing this tree for the first time.
If you are of the second group, I suggest saving the pic, closing the tab, and ruminating about the pic a while. You need a little time to let the chaos of the tree and my unparalleled cheek germinate some of those placid internal paradigms into the epic, pretentious posings that only me and my posts are capable of producing.
Or something like that.
Or this:
Brains…I need brains….yes, indeed you do Adam.
But I regress…
Here’s the tree, since we are talking about bonsai I guess:
Quite a specimen. It was purchased at Dragon Tree Nursery (www.dragontreebonsai.com) in Palm City, FL. I suggest a visit if you get the chance, Robert is one of the good men in bonsai.
I was able to pick out my tree for the demo at the zoo from Robert’s nursery.
The Brevard club has a show every year at the Brevard Zoo (they also have a permanent exhibit there, an excuse to take the whole family out and for you to sneak in some bonsai at the same time…).
This is the second year they have invited me to be a demonstrator and a vendor.
The Brevard club is one of the most active clubs in Florida and probably the most active in outreach in support of spreading the art of bonsai.
Which makes one wonder what I’m doing giving a demo.
To the work.
I had my friend Yamida take some pics for me while I was working on the tree.
I kid you not, she took more than 70 pictures. It’s kind of embarrassing to have that many pictures of yourself on your own iPhone.
I mean, isn’t it?
Here I am getting ready-
Imagine four more pics like that, two of them scratching my butt, and you’ll get the idea. How many pics do you have on your phone of you scratching your butt?
Don’t answer that.
I did get a quick pic of the audience-
I swear, the guy on the left didn’t change his expression the whole time, even with my best jokes.
Back to the tree.
I studied it a bit (for effect) and started to talk a bit about the species.
Which is, of course, a ficus green gem.
It’s similar in growth habit to the green island ficus but the main difference is the green gem has a pointy leaf, green island, rounded leaf.
I quickly pruned out the branches I didn’t need.
And proceeded to massage the tree.
No, really. Massage.
That look on my face was me answering a question from the audience about what I was doing.
I was massaging the tree.
What does that mean?
I was pre-bending the cascading branch so that when I put the wire on it and started to actually place the branch, it would be more pliable.
It works.
No one believed me in the audience either.
Here’s the front of the tree
The before, if you will.
Now I begin the wiring process-
What am I looking at?
Let’s just say that if that bird had been one second sooner in its release I would have been a victim.
It was a big bird too. Big bird. Big poo.
The main branch I am wiring (the cascade) is pretty thick. I end up using three of the heaviest wires they have.
Someone asked what gauge wire it is. I had no idea, maybe 5 mm?
I explain that I always prefer to use two smaller wires than one bigger one when making heavy bends because the branch always breaks where the wire isn’t. And two wires cover the branch (obviously) better than one.
So….three wires-
And now it’s time for me to really get to work-
Look at that concentration…those forearms….call me Popeye even.

The pic above looks like I actually know what I’m doing.
Now where did I put those wire cutters?
I must admit, I actually cracked the cascade branch three times in the bending process. Embarrassingly, it was loud enough for the audience to hear.
After skillfully explaining that,
“I’m going to crack it as many times as I need to to get it bent” I then obfuscated enough to convince them that it won’t be detrimental to the health of this ficus (which it won’t, truth be told).
And then I did an LBJ and held the beagle up by its ears:
At this point I also justified the contradiction of a ficus (a jungle tree) in the style of a cascade (a tree falling off a mountain).
Besides the fact that bonsai is an art and we don’t really have to strictly adhere to the natural growth habits of a particular species, I explained that ficus seeds have a tendency to lodge in any crevice and sprout, often on the sides of buildings or the tops of buildings.
And that, a lá a strangler fig, the tree will throw out limbs in search of light.
Just like a tree on the side of a mountain.
The finished tree as the audience saw it.
With this being November, I won’t touch those roots; it won’t hurt the tree (it hasn’t so far) to go through the winter like this.
Back view:
This tree will be available for raffle at the 2014 BSF convention, Memorial Day weekend in Orlando.
By that time I’ll have it repotted into a nice container and it should have two more levels of growth on it.
Trunk close up:
I’ll post updates on it so don’t worry about that.
The final studio pic and I’ll call this post done except to mention that, if you’re in the Brevard County area of Florida I recommend a visit to the Bonsai Society of Brevard (bonsaisocietyofbrevard.org). They are a truly gracious bunch of bonsai people and you will be welcomed with open arms.

11 thoughts

  1. Great presentation – wish I could have been there! Did you say “crack” (x3) with no ill effects to the tree? Is this a blessing of the ficus, or all plants in general? How do you determine the difference between a crack and a break (without you having 2 separate pieces, obviously)?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s