Today’s victim is a Ficus microcarpa “crassifolia”. Common name is “green mound ficus. Some people like to call it the “pointy leaf green island” but hey, people call the little lizards that run around all over Florida “geckos” too.
The tree belongs to Steve-o, from one of the Sarasota studygroups. We had yanked it off a much larger ficus he found at a plant rental company (if I remember that correctly. And yes, there are companies where you can rent plants, yearly, monthly or just for an event).
Here’s the parent tree we took this one off of. Pretty impressive, but that tree’s story is for another day.
Let’s look at today’s tree.
It’s complicated, that’s for sure.
The title kinda gives away the aesthetic I’ll be going with.
Twists, turns, switchbacks, line.
I had a conversation several years ago with bonsai artist Sergio Luciani, from Argentina. He was saying that line would become more important in bonsai as the Art matures. Heavy trunks are great and all, but we as artists can only tell that story so many times before we become bored.
I mean, “TRUNK, FIRST BRANCH, SECOND BRANCH, BACK BRANCH, REPEAT” is kinda elementary.
But line, flowing and graceful, the dynamic tension it can create, the movement of the composition; line can make a tree interesting.
Sometimes “interesting” is more than the Constant Intermediate can handle though.
The first thing I need to do is to get it in a pot. The attitude of the roots and main trunk will help me get the branches in place.
Steve found this awesome potter, Fiona Burgess, from New Zealand.
I love her work, not only the glazes and textures she creates, but her structure is near perfect.
Her website is Here, go around, peruse, leave some feedback, do some shopping.
And she even puts tie down wire holes! Imagine that?
Pot is prepared, good soil (the best, Adamaskwhy SuperMix!)
Rake the roots (no need to bare root, hardly ever actually).
Now the fun begins.
I get to decide where this roller coaster is going.
The pruning will be mostly for movement. Hard movement in some places, with more than a 90° switchback. If you ride this E ticket ride, you may just blow some serious chunks.
There will be a top…
…depth and branches and all thats needed to let the tree make sense…
All pruned, ready for some wire.
Like I said, complex. This ain’t your common mallsai or vendor room bargain bonsai.
It was a little more difficult to wire than most initial designs. The more I work with complex trees I am more apt to believe that a demonstrator may cut off more than he needs to during a show just so he can finish the tree in the time allotted.
Here’s a video with some commentary (mostly just me running my mouth) that shows the complexity of the lines of the tree better than still photos.
I know many people would have simplified this tree to one branch, one top, and a single cascade.
This was a challenge, but it was fun. And Steve-o let me have at it, so it was worth it.
Love that you were able to tame that beast without losing its uniqueness! Good job….again!
You call this bonsai? Really?
Yes I do. Asking if it is bonsai, is like asking if a Dali or a Warhol or a Pollock is art. The context of either question is a very constrained view of what bonsai or art is. For example, art is only things that look like a Ruebens.
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Very well done, as bsobflo said, you managed to style it keeping the tangled feeling. That is hard.
Reblogged this on Wolf's Birding and Bonsai Blog.
Love Fiona’s pots! Been planning to get some for my trees when they’re pot ready for forever, so lucky to have her in my country. Awesome tree too, would pick an interesting and artistic tree over “good bonsai” any day.
Awesome bones there.
You seem to have peeved the perpetual intermediates again, as per usual.
In my opinion that means you’re doing something right.
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