This started life as a little chunk of root cutting from a recent repotting I did of my oldest Chinese Elm, which is going through a massive restyling exercise. I am obsessed with root cuttings, and can’t throw out a single one, let alone something as chunky as this, with an already established nebari….better pics of that will follow in future updates. Well this is how it looked back in early September, and how it continued to look for weeks on end…. not a shoot or bud in sight. So on November 14th 2013, I thought bugger it….I will graft a new leader on and be done with waiting for nature to take its course. I have a ton of elm cuttings around so it was just a matter of finding one with a side branch a suitable length and thickness, and room in its own pot for a little hitch hiker….. Found one!!!
Blurry close up….sorry.
Off to the greenhouse for a little vacation into a nice humid environment…….
So everything is ticking along nicely for a couple of weeks, when all of a sudden, I see bright fresh new shoots emerging from the original mini stump underneath the clear grafting tape……
Needless to say, I couldn’t believe it…. anyway, I carefully snipped away the tape and released the donor branch, and spotted multiple shoots emerging right from the very groove I’d made for the new graft to lay. A few days later and this is how it looks. Much happier I can now work with all its own branches, and so far is shooting from all the right places…. Happy days ahead for this little beauty.
I acquired this monster ficus off a good friend of mine who was the second owner. He had purchased it from a bonsai nursery some years earlier from the nursery owners private stash of projects I think, and I believe it was placed on the rock over 30 yrs ago. I’m not sure what type of rock it is, but I can tell you it is about the size of a bowling ball and weighs a TON !!!!! It came to me in a 20inch diameter nursery tub, and took the 2 of us to load it in the back of my car, so moving this thing around has had its’ challenges over the past couple of years.
Anyway, here are some pics of its progression to date.
History pic #1 from prior owner Sept.1st 2009
History pic #2 from prior owner Nov. 2010
First wiring October 2012
I have left this branch at the apex to run and it will be used as the new leader once it has reached the correct thickness to improve the lack of taper. It will also speed up the healing of a large chop scar at the back directly behind it.
March 2013 By the end of summer the new leader had grown to just under a meter high.
November 2013 Time to chop the new leader back.
Lots of feed and one season later and the new leader has reached about an inch or so in diameter. Just right for the first chop, and a few cuttings will be had as well…. all perfect genetics for branch grafts if needed. The new shoot will also be allowed to grow untouched, until it gets to about half an inch, then it will get pruned back to complete stage 2 taper, ready for the final piece of the new leader. This should easily be achieved this growing season.
All potted up…. Now if I can just lift it without doing an injury.
Front view after potting and some tweaking.
More updates later this summer.
DECEMBER 13th 2013
Here is a little shohin Port Jackson fig styled this summer from a piece of 6inch nursery stock purchased back in 2011.
Pre Styling….root work completed.
Defoliated, wired out, and styled.
This was an ordinary upright Ficus Retusa, with not much going for it except some nice markings on the bark being a Tiger Bark. Laying it on its’ side and retaining one side branch, i figured it could make an interesting semi cascade shohin, so out came the loppers and off with the rest of the tree. A nice little pot and into the hot house it went hoping for numerous shoots to appear from the knob I had left….. well a couple of months on, and plenty of shoots in the area of the knob, but none exactly where I wanted, so it was grafting time. I had planted up cuttings from the earlier chop which had rapidly taken root and were growing strongly, so after sorting through a few, I found the perfect one…. long enough side branch with plenty of foliage already on it. This graft would give me another horizontal branch, plus a vertical one as the new leader/trunkline. Plonked them both in a bigger training pot and filled it with soil as well, to stabilize the two plants, and also provide extra room for roots to grow when they escape from the smaller pots, which in turn should speed up the whole grafting process.
F.Retusa ….sorry for the bad quality pic.:(
Detail of graft area
Early summer here now and plenty of work to do still this season with this being the perfect time for me to work on Ficus.
The past few months have been consumed with saving my entire Trident Maple collection from the dreaded fungal leaf curl disease which affects so many people worldwide, but now I can say with a good deal of confidence, that I finally have a handle on this monster that wants to devour my favorite species in Bonsai. With the help of some friends and an Agronimist, I have now got beautiful fresh, undeformed foliage for the first time in many years, so I will be sharing my detailed account of this in an update to come very soon.
In the meantime, I will try to catch up on my posts which will show much development to existing trees, and I will be posting some new unseen projects I have going on.