It’s been a wet summer here in Sunny Florida™, the fungus, slime, algae and moss has been loving it.
I feel bad for all the tourists visiting the Kingdom though, you can’t ride Dumbo in the rain.
It’s like all the rain that belongs on the West Coast has been falling here, along with all of our own rain.
Don’t get me wrong, rain is good, but too much in our shallow bonsai pots isn’t.
The crepe myrtle and the schillings holly are at a standstill, my tridents are pouting.
Oddly, the juniper are loving it though.
The broadleaf ficus haven’t been responding all that well but, again, oddly, the willow leaf are going insane.
Let’s talk ficus microcarpa “retusa”.
It seems you’ve caught me “in flagrante delicto” with the tree, as I’ve already removed the wire and done a little pruning.
I’ll stop and take a pic for you.
My main goal is to defoliate the tree.
I keep getting asked about defoliation; why do I do it so often?
Usually, it’s for a very simple reason. It’s easier to see that structure of a tree (mostly for you, dear readers) if I defoliate it.
If I’m working alone, without the constant camera eye, I will prune branches first, partially defoliate to make wiring easier, wire and then do a final prune and leaf removal, if needed.
There are times (and trees) where it is advisable to defoliate at the same time you are repotting. Like with a bougainvillea or a Brazilian rain tree.
Defoliating at this time reduces stress to the tree and spurs a new root growth cycle as well.
This time, however, I’m doing it for smaller leaves and increased ramification.
Big leaf/small leaf.
I’ve already cut the growing tips and defoliated once this year and this is the result from last time.
Three new buds from one tip, not bad at all. And it’s like that all over the tree.
Here’s a drones-eye view of the defoliated ficus.
It’s filling in, right?
How’s this look?
Not bad….I’m creating a new bonsai style, I’m calling it the “Tropical Broom”. It’s shorter and wider than a classical Broom, single trunk (maybe throw in some aerial roots) but a good nebari is key.
All that is left is fertilizer and I’m done.
I have shown this tree before (click here for the post a year ago).
Next up is a virtual styling for a reader named John who lives on a mountaintop in Tennessee.
He’s working hard getting a group together in his area to bring me up to the Greenest State in the Land of the Free and give a workshop and/or demo.
He sent me some pics of a tigerbark ficus he’s having problems seeing a tree in.


I like the above view as the front.
My idea (which you should wait to do until the springtime John) is to first, spread this root out.
Then chop off this much.
Yup. That much.
Then grow it out like this.
I love the roots on the right side, amazing.
I would recommend an unglazed brown oval, about an inch and a half deep.
Maybe we can work on the tree when I get up there.
Talking about traveling, the other day I went to a Multiclub auction hosted by the Bonsai Society of Brevard and involving the Central Florida Bonsai Club and Treasure Coast Bonsai. The Kawa Bonsai Society was supposed to participate but they must have had some problems making it.
What a day!
I was there early for setup along with Steve, Dave, Dave, Mike, Ronn, Donny and Seth.
There were four areas we had to take care of: the food, the live auction, the silent auction and the youth competition.
I was in charge of the silent auction, the easiest job.
I’m no fool.
There were some real deals had that day, some not so great deals and even deals that weren’t taken advantage of, which was puzzling. I mean, $100 for a styled buttonwood in a bonsai pot?
If I compared the prices that some really nice trees went for at the auction to the sale prices at the U.S. National Exhibit vendor area, you could say they were not comparable at all.
We grow the trees here in Florida that you all buy at 3-4 times the price.
This year my daughter competed in the youth competition this year.
That’s Abby and my daughter Gwendolyn (who is hiding her face).
The kids really took it seriously, more seriously than I would have.
Some familiar faces but I’m afraid I don’t know everyone’s name.
I do know Kaya though.
He has his own blog and did a write up on the picnic too (read it here).
And Benjamin.
Who is also a blogger and I’m sure will have a story on his tree (his blog is here).
I did get a picture of my daughter.
You can just hear her saying,
The winner of this years Youth Competition was Eva!
Good job Eva!
Bad job Adam for not getting a pic of the tree.
Now you’re probably wondering if I got anything at the auction, right?
Well, I took 4 unstyled trees for auction and only two sold.
I won a small willow leaf ficus, some jade cuttings and I purchased, post auction, a big green island ficus.
Did I say big?
The picture doesn’t do it justice.
It weighs about 100 lbs.
The trunk is bigger than my head, and if you’re a faithful reader of the blog, you know that my head is pretty big.
Expect a post on it soon, I’m running out of days that I can still work on it this year.
And that brings me to the last bit of work for this post.
Another tiger bark. Another defoliation.
I’m not sure what the hell I was thinking, but there’s about a mile of wire on this tree.
I need to remove it and defoliate (for the same reason as the first tree)
Oh my lord there’s so much wire here, this pile is only about a third.
I let the wire cut in pretty well, hopefully the branches will stay.
This is the eagles eye view.
It’s really filling in.
I must say, this is a really interesting design for me. I don’t tend towards a real slanting style, if a tree has a slanting trunk I usually bring the apex towards the middle to balance out the tree.
This tree, with the first branch on the right (viewer’s right) really looks like it’s in motion to me. It’s so different and slightly jarring but I like it.
It has some tension.
Anyway, that’s it, no big revelations or political dissertations, just trees, good friends and good times.

5 thoughts

  1. Nice stuff man. Im guna try to send you some pics of my green island I really need help but will have to wait till spring to defoliated it so I can get good pics.
    Beaumont TX


  2. Adam I almost urinated on my self when I saw you mentioned me and put my ficus on your blog, I bet I saved it 10 times on every pc, phone, and electronic device that saves, lol.Thank you so much, it’s artist like you that make this hobby truly wonderful. There are artist out there that would not give me or people new to the hobby the time of day much less allow personal contact with, they have this arrogance and cockyness, hey a new word for webster.”cockyness”.and if they did answer a question it was with a swift snarled comment.I understand people have things that go on and people are busy but you really can’t have that excuse after seeing Adam lavigne, You are one of the busiest people I have seen and yet have time for everybody and always sticking up for the little man.Thank you for all you do, we take for granted the blogs we read not always thinking about the writer on the other end, blogs take alot of work especially ones like your’s that have lots of picture’s and detail.I am sure I speak for everyone that reads your blogs when I say thank you for all your hard work.I can’t wait to meet you, hope to get you here real soon.oh yeah, Thank you for my virtual styling, I think I will save that for when we care Adam.


  3. I’m new to bonsai but I have wanted to create one for many years. Junipers don’t live long inside but I still tried several times. It is still my favorite tree however this year I have had success with a Chinese Fukien Tea tree which I have kept on the covered porch. I will be able to bring it in for the winter since Missouri winters can be pretty harsh. I enjoyed reading your article and look forward to more.


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