What was I thinking (or drinking) with these two trees?

Two bonsai walk into a bar…..stop me if you’ve heard this one, ok?…..one tree says to the other,
“Jeez, you look rough, what style are you supposed to be?”
The other, a little drunk, says,
“Never mind that, were you styled by an apprentice?”
“Now why would you say that?”, the first tree says.
“Because..” says tree number two,
“I’m pretty sure you’re a juniper, but you look like an ash”
Today’s trees are (no, not a juniper or ash) a green island ficus (ficus microcarpa), and a Texas ebony (Ebenopsis ebano).
I teased my Facebook friends with the Texas ebony a few weeks back, so I figured I’d pay it out.
I’ll start with it.
Ready?
It’s a tough one.
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Uhhhh….wut da’ wut?
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I told you so.
Let me look at the ficus just to make myself feel better.
It’s a much easier tree to style.
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Simple, this one is screaming to the world,
“CASCADE!”
You can probably hear it all the way in Australia, can’t you?
Can anyone please tell me what the Texas ebony is saying?
Anyone?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Tune in Tokyo (I love playing that game with my wife by the way).
Sorry.
Ok, I guess maybe I should start with the roots.
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This is the first time I’ve repotted this kind of tree in the summer.
I almost treat a Texas ebony like a deciduous tree, as it can lose it’s leaves in the winter.
Education time, if you’d like you can skip over this part.
Go to the next photo.
Of course, you’ll lose your place in the narrative but, it’s ok, it’s not that important……
The Texas ebony used to be called pithecellobium flexicaule but, as has been happening a lot of late, it’s been reclassified.
Ebonopsis (which sounds like a synopsis of an ebony…) ebano (this is what the trees common name in Spanish is, actually. It’s called Texas ebony but it’s natural range occurs in Old Mexico more than in Texas. We’re a bit arrogant sometimes I guess).
Planted in the ground, the ébano (maybe it’s a good tree to pee on, given the name of the tree in Spanish is awfully close to the Spanish word el bãno. Or maybe because the seedpod looks like a turd? That sounds more plausible….) is an amazingly drought tolerant tree.
In a bonsai pot, it closes up it’s leaves and generally sulks when it’s dry.
It doesn’t die though.
It has an adaptation where the tree will go dormant if it dries out too much (don’t throw it away if it drops all it’s leaves, in other words).
It’s also cold tolerant to 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit and it will drop it’s leaves at this time. If it’s closer to the 15 degrees limit you may get tip damage but it will come back from the next bud.
I’ve always repotted them at the end of winter myself, but Erik (Mr. Wigert, sir, to the rest of you) repots them in the summer (or now, as it were) so, in a show of solidarity to my brother-from-another-mother, I will repot now.
It has terribly hard wood (aha!) but the heartwood is not black like the African ebony (diospyrus mespiliformis) or true ebony (diospyrus ebenum) but more of a red or purplish color.
It does have spines, which are just the perfect size to impale ones finger tips on when wiring, and the leaf is compound.
It is in the legume family, which is why it used to be called by the various names, mimosa, pithecelobium, acacia, chloroluceun and zygia.
Now it’s classified in its own a group with a similar tree called ebenopsis confinis (if anyone can find an example of this tree I’d like to have one).
One last fact (here’s an interesting aside for you: the word “factoid” actually means a “false or made up fact”) that pertains to bonsai: the branches grow in a zig-zag habit.
Nuff’ larnin’, back to work!
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I raked and washed and trimmed the roots.
Got some mud all over my boots.
I looked around at what choices I got
Ah, lookie here, I like this pot!
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I found it at, of all places, Target.
It’s made of cement or concrete (I can’t ever tell the difference) and only had one hole, so I drilled the four small holes for tie down wires.
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With what I have in mind for this tree, I’m going to need some serious cordage.
But….in the spirit of the original Facebook posting, you’re going to have to wait just a little longer….I’m turning to the green island now.
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Like I said, this one is easy.
Cascade.
The dilemma is the pot.
I’m not sure if I have a good one for it.
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Or one big enough.
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Let me dig around here……
AHA!
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I got this one at Target too. And no, I’m not getting paid to endorse them, I wish.
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This should work.
I think.
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Yeah…..cool.
Like the flip-side of a pillow.
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It needs a little wire, the cascading branch is a way too straight.
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I should point out (to be honest with you, my dear readers) that I cracked the branch here.
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The crack is not all the way through and the little bit of cut putty I put on it will help heal it.
And now, finally, the Texas ebony.
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Some wire.
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And finally, the reveal….
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I’m not sure which side will be the front quite yet.
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To recap: two trees, one tree, pretty easy to figure out and one tree, not so:
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I took the easy one and put it into a non-traditional pot.
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I think I hit the….target with the pairing (HA!).
and the other tree?
I like it.
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I think I prefer this side as a front.
What does the future hold for these two trees?
Did I kill the Texas ebony with an unseasonal (to me at least) repotting?
Will the green island ficus recover from the cracked branch?
Will Little Orphan Annie escape from the evil clutches of the unethically-harvested Yamadori panderer?
You will have to tune in next time to discover the truth!

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in rare finds, sculpture, styling bonsai and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What was I thinking (or drinking) with these two trees?

  1. John cullum says:

    Adam you did it again, another beautiful well done exciting, nail bitting, hang on the the edge of your seat blog! Oh, sorry bout that.Love the pots by the way.from Tokyo over and out.

  2. acstratten says:

    When you hear cement, think glue. Cement is on ingredient in concrete which includes rocks and sand… And nice work with the tricky ebony.

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