Biggun’ Schefflera in some concrete shoes

I tell you what, sometimes I live an interesting life. One time, when I was still in the Durable Medical Equipment field, fixing wheelchairs and such, I once removed a bougie for a guy, a big bougie, actually, which he let me keep, and still charged him for an inner tube and labor for fixing his wheelchair. It was my first Epcot tree. I know, I know, but the guy really saw me doing him a favor for getting rid of an unwanted plant than giving me a valuable bonsai. 

But this isn’t a post about that bougie. 

I have this client down in the Palm Beaches (I used to think there was only “West Palm Beach” but if one thinks about that, the “west” part tends to denote that there might be an east or north Palm Beach. But there’s no East Palm Beach, there is a South Palm Beach, though. So let’s get it straight; you have Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach, North Palm Beach, Palm Beach Shores. Hell, there’s even a Palm Springs in the area. Thank Siri for Apple Maps when I visit) who asked me to help him with a…ah, big bald cypress. But that’s another story for another day (yes, it’s about an 8 foot tree, not a shohin by any measure). 

Today’s blog post is about an equally impressive tree, a schefflera that’s about 40-50 years old. This was how I first saw it. In the dark, at Jupiter Bonsai. There was beer involved. The tree belongs to Greg.  Somehow, I agreed to take his tree back home with me…….and, either find a pot for it, or make one. So we loaded it up in the van (Don’t hate on my luggage, it was on sale at Target) and back to Orlando I went. 

I made some phone calls, followed some leads, chased a few rabbits down some holes, but, alas, there was no pot big enough, for this tree, in the state of Florida. What’s the matter with the pit it’s in? Well, it’s a terribly faded mica pot from Korea. 

Dave and my son unloaded it for me. They love me. As for the pot, good thing I’m the creative type, right? And I have experience with making slabs out of concrete and using a new product called ShapeCrete. I did a blogpost on it a few months ago and I’m getting the hang of using it. I got this. I can handle the challenge. It’s just a matter of scale, right?  

Here’s the tree a few weeks ago. 

That pretty pink flower is a rain lily or fairy lily (zephyranthes species)  

Measuring the pot, and the ultimate width of the canopy, 

…….I’m guessing the new pot needs to be something like 28″x 41″ or so. And this will be a pot, with sides and drainage holes, as opposed to a slab. For a few reasons. First, I don’t like slabs much. No offence to you slab lovers out there but, I don’t know…..it seems too easy. Secondly, a concrete form with edges will be stronger and less prone to breaking because of structural integrity. That’s why I-beams and tubes are used to build structures as opposed to solid bars. 

In order to make edges for the concrete, because it is technically a liquid until it cures, I’m going to need a frame. And, like all good craftsmen, I will do my maths on the wood. It’s always cool to find writing on the studs in the walls of my old, 100 year old house. 

The next few pics are self explanatory, I think. 

Wanna screw?

When I’m done with this pot, I can use the frame to build a bench top. Looks about right to me. 

The pot’s edge finish I’m going for is in the same style as my “sexual chocolate” pot from the first ShapeCrete post (you’re gonna have to go read it now). 

Which involved using a plastic sheet to roll out the ShapeCrete on and then place it into a form. You need to roll the concrete out bigger than the frame so that, as you lower the sheet into the wooden frame, the sides are formed. 

First, mix the product. 

I’m going for a clay like consistency. 

I ended up using 60 lbs, dry weigh the, of the ShapeCrete, to make it. I love this product. It  has accelorators added to make it cure rock hard in about 24 hours. 

24 hours later…..

The bottom. side view

Not bad. 

It cures in 24 hours but doesn’t reach full strength for 28 days. And you have to soak it in water to leach out the alkalinity for a week or so. 

Some of the things I did waiting for the pot to cure. 

Tamarindo

Bonsai rock ‘n roll

Too much beer

Sergio Luciani. 

Green mound ficus time lapse video: coming soon on the YouTube channel!

I feel like a woman waiting for her menses. 28 days. A lunar cycle. My birthday, if it was February. And finally, it’s time to pot the tree. 

Into The Nook!

The old pot

It took me a little more than an hour to weed this beast. 

The rain lily bulbs were on the bottom of the root ball, under all the roots. 

I had to pull them out from the bottom. And the soil was muck. Nasty stuff. A quick hosing washes most of it off. It had a lot of roots. Understatement of the year. 

 We prepare the pot. A good layer of fresh bonsai soil and….after a little liquid refreshment…..

I think it fits! And it’s not as heavy as you’d think. Guaracha is just showing off his muscles. 

We move it (actually, Guaracha and Dave moved it for me. I’m not supposed to lift more than a gallon of milk, thanks pendejos!) they reminded me, it’s usually the best idea to wait to water it until it’s in place. I like it!

It took about 8 gallons of soil. 

I love the finish and the color. 

It just needs to fill in more and maybe a little wiring. And then I have to deliver it back to down to Southeast Florida.  That should be fun. 

That’s all folks! Make sure you like, share, comment (I’m looking for “ask Adam why questions for the video series on YouTube). Check out the Instagram, Facebook and YouTube feeds. Follow the blog! And if you like my stuff, I’m on Patreon now, check it out, my son need a bigger shirt. 

About adamaskwhy

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

8 Responses to Biggun’ Schefflera in some concrete shoes

  1. ed hake says:

    Does anybody down there in Fla know what species or hybrid that little rainlily is. I have it and for sure it is not Z. grandiflora being half the size.
    ed

    • adamaskwhy says:

      I don’t and when I searched I only found a common or trade name, or just a color (pink in this case) not the binomial. Sorry Ed. I’ll post a pic on Facebook, let’s see what they say.

  2. Tony DeWald says:

    Questions, questions…

    I’m struggling with shapecrete, Mixing it has been a chore.
    Are you doing it simply by Hand?

    Did you add any color to the mix?

    How do you keep the underside level enough so it isn’t off level?

    Did you need to do anything on the underneath side for wires to fit?

    Thanks.
    Tony

    • adamaskwhy says:

      I mix it by hand, but I add the color first when it’s still dry. On this piece I didn’t try to keep the bottom level but if I wanted to I’d put a piece of plywood underneath. On smaller pieces you just have to make sure your container or surface is level. There are people who build wooden molds for the pieces.
      For tie down wires I’ll go back with a diamond saw on my angle grinder and cut out grooves. On this one I did not because there aren’t any feet so the wire will act as a stand off on the bench.

      • Tony DeWald says:

        Ok I figured as much on the wire on the bottom.

        60 pounds of shapecrete, that’s 3 bins?

        I don’t need to make anything this large but just ’cause I’m curious how thick did you make the bottom?

      • adamaskwhy says:

        The thinnest it is is about an inch, thickest an inch and a half. I rolled it out first on the plastic sheet

  3. 420cable says:

    HEY TONY,
    I MIX IT WITH MY HANDS, YOU CAN USE RUBBER GLOVES IF YOU WANT TO, DEPENDS ON HOW SENSITIVE YOUR SKIN IS. IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, IT CURES BECAUSE OF A CHEMICAL REACTION ….. I FRAMED HOMES FOR 12 YEARS SO MY HANDS ARE NOT WHAT YOU WOULD CONSIDER SENSITIVE IN ANY SENSE OF THAT WORD.
    THERE IS COLOR POWDERS OUT THERE.
    I HAVE A GOOD FRIEND AT A BUILDING SUPPLY PLACE THEY SELL BRICK, MORTAR, THINGS LIKE THAT. ANY COLOR YOU CAN THINK OF REALLY, IF YOU UNDERSTAND COLOR CHARTS THEN YOU CAN COME UP WITH SOME INTERESTING STUFF.
    I HAVE NEVER LOOKED FOR COLORS AT LOWE’S OR HOME DEPOT SO NOT 100% SURE IF IT IS THERE OR NOT.
    YOU CAN SEE THAT ADAM MADE THE HOLES AND JUST PRESSES THE SCREENS INTO THE POT WHILE ITS SOFT THEN ITS PERMANENT. YOU CAN EVEN MAKE EXTRA SMALL HOLES FOR WIRE TOO.
    GET A LIL CREATIVE WITH LEGS ONCE ITS CURED, IF ITS NOT LEVEL, USE A RASP OR GRINDER TO TUNE IT DOWN SO TO SPEAK. OR JUST PAT IT OUT ON A FLAT SURFACE FOR THE BOTTOM. JUST REMEMBER YOU NEED ROOM FOR DRAINAGE.
    SORRY ADAM!!! DID’NT MEAN STEPPING ON YOUR TOES THERE. I’M SURE YOU DON’T MIND
    KELLY BELL
    THANK YOU TO ALL ACTIVE MILITARY, AND EXCEPTIONALLY OUR VETERANS !!!

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