This is a F. obliqua I collected growing out of a sandstone wall in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, around 20+ years ago. It had a canopy about 3ft across, and these 2 slender trunks holding the whole mass up. No idea how old it is but it must have been growing in the crack in the wall for at least 10 yrs or so to get to the size it was.??? I removed all the branches at the time and ran a saw against the wall and base cut it free. It now stands around 15ins tall and 16in wide canopy. The nebari is my biggest issue with this tree…. very one sided due to its original growing angle. Never really known how to correct or improve it, so have learned to live and work with it.
Overhead view below, showing good ramification developing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This cutting started out at 100mm or 4 inches in diameter and about 16 inches or 400mm long. Basically the base of a large branch from a tree at the end of our driveway. Curious to see if it would strike roots and whether it might make an interesting bonsai one day. Well, that was a little under a year ago and here is its progress so far.
The cutting has grown like crazy this summer and I had to remove and rewire it twice throughout the season. I cut all the wire off it about 6 weeks ago and thought I’d leave it a while before I wired it for a third time. The new trunkline started to develop a right angle about mid way up which freaked me out a bit so I thought I better sort this out while I could still bend it back into the right shape. I took 2 x 6mm wires to do it but it was successful. I was going to leave it at that, but I got into a bit of a zen wiring mode, and before I knew it, I had rewired the whole tree again for a third time and had the carving tools out to get rid of that big square chop and start blending the trunkline and taper.
Progression so far has been pretty good for literally one season in training I think.
First styling 16-5-12
Here is a new fig which my beloved family purchased for me for Christmas. It is a Ficus Superba, somewhere between 25 and 30 years old, and a completely new variety of ficus for me. In my part of the world it is semi deciduous as well. The new foliage comes through this deep coppery brown with a super shiny leaf. Styling was going to start with a serious chop of all trunks, but after defoliation decided to work with them and create a ‘Banyan” style tree.
New foliage….spectacular colour.
In full leaf 20/1/13
The turnbuckle will be removed now I see the tree photographed. I think it is now way too low.
The pot is only a temporary one , as to really show it in the Banyan style, it should be in a shallow wide tray, which will hopefully encourage a mass of aerial roots, such as the beautiful example below ……
After studying the last photo, I decided to remove the turnbuckle from the branch on the RHS as it looked out of balance.
UPDATE December 8th 2013
This ficus is growing like crazy and I finally found a better pot for my future vision for this tree. I feel it would really suit the Banyan Style, and a low, wide rectangular pot was needed.
As you can see the roots are climbing out of the existing pot, so with the temps really hotting up here, it is great timing for a repot.
I have recently assembled another fusion project, but this time it is a Ficus Microcarpa var. Hillii. I used an old dead trunk from a Murraya Paniculata that I had lying around and instead of twist ties for my attaching method, thought I would try something new….hence the wood base. I used a brad gun, which fires inch long pins normally used for small woodwork items. It worked a treat, particularly when I needed the ficus whips to mould into certain shapes. Very easy to handle and once the base was secured to a bench, managed to attach around 40 whips from a quarter inch to half an inch in diameter in a little over 2 hours. Growing on a batch of trident seedlings from last year which will get the same treatment. Update pics to come.
Update pics as of 4/1/13
September 19th 2013 UPDATE
This fusion project has been putting on a ton of new growth for being in a pot and not the ground. I have also had the pot sitting in a deep tray of water full time which it certainly seems to like. As far as fusion of the trunks goes… well they have all fattened by at least 20-30% since the day of assembly, and some fusion has taken place, but still a ways to go. Normally I would just let the trunks grow taller and taller, but I have found with this variety of ficus, that they get very tall but with little taper, so I am shortening the trunks back to around finished height, and will let the side branching go unpruned, as fusion has occurred where the lower branches were allowed to thicken. Lots of chicken manure and Powerfeed over the coming months for this one…. stay tuned for more updates.
DECEMBER 14th 2013
Being the start of summer down here, its the perfect time to work on ficus, so today I decided to defoliate my Ficus Fusion project, to see just what was going on under all those healthy leaves.
There is some definite fusing going on but I can’t say it is fully welding together just yet. I really believe had I planted this in the ground or a big grow box, I would be seeing quicker results…. but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it.
An interesting thing to note also is for the period up to the repot, the pot it was in sat permanently in about 4 inches or 10cms of water, and the whole thing powered…. what is also interesting is this variety of fig is remarkably drought tolerant. I have cuttings from this project which have gone a couple of weeks without a drink and not the slightest signs of stress. Tough variety this one.
I underestimated the swelling of all the whips combined, when leaving an open space for the eventual hollowed trunk look to the finished tree. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time these are all welded together, the opening will have all but fully closed. Oh well, at least I know what lies beneath, in case I choose to carve a new opening down the track.