Well, my bench looks like a mess. What is happening here? We got trees, pots, and it looks like the beer is hiding behind the trees…..GET OUT THE BUSHES AND IN MA’ BELLY! I do believe I have a few tasks before the cerveza gets recycled into its constituent parts, though.

I have this new pot, which was purchased at the last Winter Silhouette show, from a new Bonsai potter named Ben.

Isn’t that awesome? I just love it.

His business just happens to be called……

Ben’s Bonsai PotsCheck him out.

I found him, and this pot, just in time, you see….

….we have, The Turkey, as I call it, a green mound ficus, and it has a broken pot.

To read it’s humble beginnings, Go here

The trees binomial name is a ficus microcarpa “crassifolia”, what is sometimes called “green island” (which is incorrect) but should be called “green mound”. But green island sounds so sexy, doesn’t it?

The pot it’s in was made by Martha Goff, and is a great pot for the tree, but she was out of the size I needed when I saw her last.

One of my cats decided he wanted a taste of turkey, or was chasing a lizard or a bird or something, and….crash!

Hence the need for a new pot.

And I really liked this one.

Oh well. The life of a crack pot

The second tree, which is also an update, is this green island….

You saw it here last, and looking like this when we left it.

It’s grown quite a bit.

The top….

Has filled in a bit. But no backbudding below the top growth, as expected.

It has added three leaves at the growth tip. Aren’t they nice and shiny? The interesting thing, I always say that new leaves are more efficient at photosynthesis, right? What does that mean? Well, my friends, put on ya’ larnin’ caps, get ready to take notes.

If we lived in an optimal world, with all variables being perfect, a leafs photosynthetic efficiency is only 30%. That is taking into account that the leaf is clean, new, that the light is direct and of the best wavelength. But…..BUT, the sun isn’t of the best wavelength (the longer the better, that’s what she said), therefore the corrected optimum efficiency is 11%. But, because of the real world, and all of the mitigating factors that come from it, the actual number is between 2-6%. So, with all the sunlight a plant gets, it uses very little. That’s why I stress getting rid of inefficient leaves all the time, orienting them to collect the sun better and pruning out shaded ones. A corollary question to this data set: how much carbohydrate is stored, after the plant uses what it needs for cell processes, growth, etc? Not to get into too much detail but it’s only about .5-2% of all that’s created (check out the book Photosynthesis by David Oakley Hall; K. K. Rao; Institute of Biology (1999). Cambridge University Press). Which is why I stress that a tree must be healthy and rested before you begin to beat it up. Much like how the Six Fingered Man made sure that the Wesley was healed before he was strapped onto The Machine.

Which is why this tree won’t be pruned again until it’s full. But it’s pushing real well now. Tropical trees are on the higher end of the stored energy curve.

On those branches where I left the growth tips intact, I did get some elongation.

Some more backbudding.

It’s pretty predictable, even in the winter (as winter as December in Florida gets).

This one needed to thicken, so I removed the leaves except for the grow tips, and there’s no backbudding but…..

There are two new leaves and a new growth tip.

I could go on and on about hormones and manipulating them for specific growth habits, but I feel as though I’m beating a dead horse a bit.

A clear “proof of concept” tree.

Predictable growth in the winter (winter is more categorized by lack and duration of light in the tropics. With lower nighttime temps thrown in for good measure)

I’m not sure that I’d have as good growth in July with this tree. Well, maybe better.

But it’s easy to see what has happened in the last few weeks.

Let’s get to The Turkey. Repotting in December? Am I going there too?

Technically, I’ll be slip potting. But yeah. If you have a cracked pot you gotta do cracked pot things.

Tie downs! You gotta love how many holes Ben put in for tie down wires. Well done!

My new soil mix, which I really should be doing a post on soon.

It has pumice, zeolite, red and black lava (scoria), expanded shale and slate, charcoal and there might be pine bark. I’ll go into details with the upcoming post. I think you’ll notice a lack of calcined clay. Why? Simply put, I can’t find the particle size I want.

Slip potting is easy. Cut the wire on the old pot…..

Pull out the tree (hopefully with a good root ball)

Examine the roots. The roots are pretty good….

Put tree into new pot, without raking the rootball.

Tie it down.

I put some fertilizer down, a half organic, half synthetic blend.

And then figure out what to do with the broken pot.

I think I can use it for something. But that’s another post!


It’s probably time to remove the old wires and do some pruning.

It looks like it’s growing to me. Which reminds me…..

I told you I’d show you the difference in leaf shape between the green mound and the green island.

Green mound on the left, with the pointy leaves.

Green island on the right with the roundy leaves. To remember a mnemonic , “I’m trying to make a point about the green mound leaves by showing that the green island leaves are round, like sailing around an island.”

Phew, that deserves a beer.

And it is now midnight and I must needs sleep. So here we are sans wire, before a restyle.

I will see you tomorrow…..

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…(( _ _ ))..zzzZZ

Well, it’s not the morning but it is tomorrow, annnnd!!!!!

Welcome to another episode of…..Back Bumper Bonsai!

Those of you who follow my social media feeds know that I often work on trees as I wait for my kids to get out of school.

I know it’s a corny thing, but I will continue with it, mainly for the alliteration.

Not only did I bring The Turkey, but I brought the companion green island ficus to our proof of concept subject above.

I was using it as a kind of control (don’t ever mistake me for being scientifical, or rigorous, or even rational, in my tests. When I cite scientific things, they are from real horticulturists, but when I do my own stuff, remember, I’m just a bonsai guy. Never take what I or any other Bonsai person says without verifying, from a non Bonsai source, what we put forth a The Word. There are real scientists who get paid to do real science, and I lean heavily on their research. And I can change my mind because of it. I am not a traditionalist by any means nor am I dogmatic. And I will ask a teacher why. Bugs the hell out of them too.

Anyway, this “control” ficus only grew where……Unsurprisingly, there has been some damage and accidental leaf removal….

Interesting, no?

But it is showing signs of senescence (leaf dormancy and drop) which means it’s beginning to want to grow again. The yellowing leaves below.

So I figured I’d help it along, as I worked on the Turkey. See what responds faster, green mound or green island.

So as to not make this post too long….Bob’s yer uncle on the green island…..

With a nice zig zag in the apex even…..

Show of hands…how many people don’t like my zig zag?

I know it’s not “traditional” but I like it. Tell me what you think. I know it’s early in the trees development but, I think it’ll be cool.

One piece of wire and….

….back to The Turkey.

Again, for the sake of brevity, I’ve cut it back except for a few places.

On the bottom left, I had kept a branch coming off the “trunk”. I’m going to remove it to clean up the line.

And then on the top I have a thick and a thin branch (the thin has wire on it).

To help with the perspective and proportion, I’m getting rid of the thicker one (as you travel up a tree, the branches should be thinner the higher you get. It helps in the scale and proportions, I talked about this in the last post).

And there we go. More compact and I think the trunk is again the main focus of the tree.

Back in The Nook, using some cerveza as a stand, I present to you, The Turkey!

I’ve cut most of the growth tips (for backbudding) and fertilized it. Now it’s time to let it grow.

What types of posts would you all like to see next?

I’m planning on a few posts on collecting trees from the yard and the wild. An updated soil post, maybe some carving posts.

What else? Put your ideas in the comments.

8 thoughts

  1. I wish you would post these Long blogs about 7 PM so that as I start reading them and I gradually fall asleep I get a good nights rest and dream about trees and things that I need to learn without having to go outside and check if the material you are posting about is apre po to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would love to see some new carvings! Maybe even non tree carvings like another Tiki or a Moai, as you are an artist of so many mediums. A collection post would be awesome because it would be very timely in the next 60 days or so. I have a collection trip planned with my local club for Feb. Soil is always fun, and a debate–mine is very similar to yours, (thanks BWI) My local club is all APL and nothing else snooobs (I don’t debate) but I did hear a no organic component argument for the first time that struck a chord. The idea that if there is no organic in the soil then you retain total control of the plants nutritional needs and know exactly what it it taking in. To much work for me tho. As always a very enjoyable post!! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours Adam.


  3. I like the zig-zaggy bit. It’s not the sort of thing I see often in a pot, but lots of tree show “Eeek! I’ve been broken a few times, but still reach for the sky. Nature finds a way.”. Do you intend to leave the angles so sharp, or will you “soften” them over time?


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