I got a call from my client John. He said his trees need some work. I hadn’t heard from him for at least three years (with the lost pandemic year and him being a busy businessman and all. Hmmmmm, there’s a word connection. Busy, busyness, business. I’ll have to look up the etymology because it’s bugging me, kind of like how entomology bugs me too. It should bug you too).
With all my traveling of late, I told him the days I’d be home and he said “I’ll be by Thursday!” Little did I know how much work his trees needed.
This is just one, a Ficus microcarpa:
Where’s my machete? The tree started out as one of those retail “ginseng” style ficus you get at the box stores, but it’s developed a bit. It just takes some time to mature. And for those that say it’s only a Florida thing for roots to grow like this, this article has a “ginseng” from Indiana.
Now, in a normal bonsai working day, I’d prune out the branches I don’t need first, and then work outward, defoliating as I go but for the purpose of an article, I tend to defoliate first (or as the cool kids might say, denude, because, just like it’s “inverse” taper instead of “reverse” taper or its “substrate” instead of “soil”, them cool kids have to create jargon or use big words to make the process sound more “scientific” and themselves more “smart”).
Thereupon, with the purpose to elucidate the methodology for optimal visualization, let me commence to denude the specimen.
As always, the old and damaged leaves come off.
They do nothing for the tree, but, in fact, take energy, as the tree is keeping them alive by giving energy. Next, remove the shaded ones, for the same reason.
But I am repeating myself, I’ve written extensively on the concept of defoliation. Read this article for some clarification while I get to work.
Done, that’s about all I’ll take off for now. It looks like a lot….
…..but there’s still a lot of foliage left.
Most of the branches with leaves will be pruned off or shortened as I continue the styling process.
Sometimes (many times) a tree can benefit from some neglect and overgrowth. This one has, and I have a lot to work with.
Next, I’ll clean up some of those aerial roots and remove some glaringly in-opportune branches
Here we go, I can work with this now.
I’ll get some wire on the branches I have left, then repot.
Out of the pot…..
Whoops, seems like we’ve lost the sun and it’s night. Don’t worry about continuity, nothing is real on the internet anyway.
The roots aren’t as bad as I thought they might have been.
Get in the pot!
Don’t worry, I’ll get some pics tomorrow morning with some better light. Now it’s time to finish my adult beverage and get some dinner. See you in the morning….
Good morning! After feeding the tortoises (who are still sleeping I might add)…..
…..Let’s take a look at the tree….
….OOPS, where’s the tree? I guess I moved it over to the photo booth last night. You’ll notice I’ve switched to coffee this morning. Today just happens to be National Coffee Day in the US, but I’d be drinking it already. Maybe I’ll indulge in a second cup (Like I need a reason for that!).
I believe that John will be happy with the development, especially going from this..
It’s well on its way to a specimen, banyan style ficus, worthy of a show. Next year I’ll recommend a wider, shallower pot to help show off the trunk and wide canopy.
John, let’s not wait another three years this time.