This is not my mess, I know I’ve been incapacitated of late but it was this way when I got it from this mad Bohemian dude I know.   I’ll need to clean it up a bit just to see what I’m doing and what I have, be it treasure or trash.  Wow, that seems like a lot of, what I can only call, “green”, fertilizer, but it’s a medium amount. I’ve seen more on other Florida trees. Piles and handfuls. This is conservative compared to that, coming from a Bohemian and all. It is also planted on a rock (which makes it heavy, like a German philosopher’s prose)  
And the whole thing is, like, totally pot bound. Literally.  No love for the tree from the mad Bohemian. Oh, sorry, it’s a dwarf ficus benjamina (not sure if it’s a Kiki or a too little, the leaves have been allowed to grow out and they revert to specie to a degree).   

Like I said, no love for the tree. Our Bohemian friend (maybe he said Roma, like a gypsy, I just don’t remember) just doesn’t like benjamina bonsai. But how can you not? Look at the trunk and base.  

Hot damn that’s sexy, slap my ass and call me Trigger. If you can’t appreciate that fat bottom, I just don’t know what art form you’re practicing. 

Now, granted, she needs a little cleanup, a little styling and some work, but who wouldn’t, being as old as she is. Let’s call her Cinderella, shall we?  Come here darlink, a leetle of zee top, yesh, yesh.. Eets all comink togezer now… Bee-yoot-ee-full, no? Like a mysterious and exotic temple, lost in the jungle in South America or Indochina. Let’s see if I can tame the top.     I should note, in all fairness, that our intrepid Bohemian kind of inherited this tree from a, now deceased, acquaintance and therefore any mistakes in pruning are probably the dearly departed’s and not our raggedy Bohemian’s, but, since it’s not well to speak ill of the dead, I’m blaming the Bohemian for all the mistakes. It’s only fair. Let’s hope he does the same for me one day. 

What’s up here?   Who would leave stub like that? SMH. Time for the serious tools…  ahh, rusty. Two months outside in the Florida humidity will do that to any black steel tool. Even those mysterious “Black Scissors” that seem so hip and clique-ish all of a sudden.   

Aaaannnnnd that’s why I have stainless steel tools from American Bonsai Tool Co.     A little dirty (sorry Cullen) but still rust free. It’s a’choppin’ time! 

 Much better. Now the rest of the tree  

 I’m thinking of maybe shortening it. Here? 


Or maybe here, to this back branch?   Nah, for some reason I just can’t see the tree clearly in those pics…….hah, get it? The pics are out of focus…..can’t see……jeez, you guys are tough.

 I know, how about here?  Hmmmmnnn…….

Let’s move on to the roots.  Yeah, I don’t think this has been repotted in years. A ficus tree’s roots need to be cut back almost yearly. 

Speaking of roots, did you know that it was our Bohemian friend’s ancestors that gave us the beer that most of the world drinks? Here’s some geography and history for you in 500 words or less. The kingdom of Bohemia used to look like so: 

 It was the end of WWI and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that removed the country called Bohemia from the world. 

From that point it was a part of Czechoslovakia, an amalgamation of the Czech peoples and the Slovaks. The Czechs are what the Bohemian’s came to be called in the early 20th century. They combined in an effort to be free from their (respectively) Austrian and Hungarian overlords. Little did they know that those monarchies would be replaced with an even more authoritarian empire: the USSR. 

Is anyone paying attention to the word count?

What does all this have to do with beer? Hold on. 

This is Czechoslovakia:  In 1989, Czechoslovakia overthrew its communist masters in an event called the “Velvet Revolution” (you should look it up, fascinating) and the Free World was allowed its first taste (in about 4 generations) of the whole point of this mini essay; that being the first beer you didn’t have to chew to drink: Pilsner Urquell. It was the first clear beer in history. 

 In 1993 (a brief 4 years after independence from the USSR) Czechoslovakia split back into its component states, Slovakia and Bohemia (which they call the Czech Republic now. They should go back to calling themselves Bohemia, right? It’s way cooler). The reasons for the split are debated, whether it be industry, language, culture, etc. but I think it had to do with the beer. 

You see, Pilsner Urquell is the beer that all other clear beers, like Budweiser and Miller, are descended from. And it was created in Bohemia.  And once the Slovaks started sampling western cultures and cuisine, especially the abomination called Bud Lite (the piss king of beers), they didn’t want anything to do with a group of people who could subject the world to that type of infamy. 

Dark beer rules. Bringing us back to our tree. It’s roots are so tangled (like the Czechs) I’m worried about it surviving this repot. I knew we couldn’t trust a Bohemian, that’s just an old fashioned word for a filthy hippie. I need an implement to correct this neglect.   (I’m not actually worried, I was just in the moment).   The roots are actually healthy. I’m using a tray that’s usually used to carry small potted plant, like annuals.   

  And that’s all.  I won’t heap any more derision upon our dear Bohemian, he’s endured enough (breaking up a whole country with his heritage brew and all)…….wait, there’s something wrong….. I hate that branch. Yeah, that one:  

Ahhhhhh, much better now.   It just goes to show you, sometimes you need to tear something apart (like Czechoslovakia) in order for the structure and unity to be more perfect. 

A note on the pruning of ficus benjamina: you’ll notice that I left green on all the branches. The benjamina is prone to dieback if you don’t. And you don’t see any wire. In my experience, a benjamina is best trained using clip and grow or directional pruning techniques. And it looks best as a “canopy” tree. So if you have one, work on the trunk character first, then the branches and canopy.  

Now it just needs to fill in like this.  

Next post will be either on a Brazilian Raintree or on a painting I just finished. Or I’ll make soup. 

What do you think? 


9 thoughts

  1. I like it. Thinking of hollowing out the uros? Or letting them heal over? The photos of it in the flat show that it’s bigger than I originally thought.

    I got a couple of those (the flats) from Japan Nursery’s liquidation. Should have grabbed some more…


  2. Thanks again Adam for a great blog..You do make me laugh with your witty comments ! As for the beer,have you tried the Czech (I think) beer Budweiser Budwar ?? Beautiful beer.We used to buy it in the UK,but alas its not available in Greece.Hope you make a speedy recovery and keep the blogs coming !


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