Ficus styling input

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Ficus styling input

Postby DangerousDave » September 4th, 2018, 1:08 pm

Hi there. I’ve been ‘lurking’ on this forum for a while now, but not really posting... as the homepage suggests I should get more involved, I thought I’d post about the next tree I plan to work on. I’m very much a beginner with very undeveloped stock.. but here goes..

I picked up this fig recently, a bargain for 5 bucks I thought.

B4B87608-91A7-466E-ADBF-C8A5AE6593C9.jpeg


Some scale, now treated, but otherwise healthy. I have potted up into something I felt more suited to training. A nice surprise with a better-than-expected nebari below the surface. One large root removed and then potted higher to take advantage of the extra nebari width and taper..

CE5C2E89-700B-47A6-BB3F-DBB29FAB84FA.jpeg


So now that the scale is treated and it’s settled in this pot, I’m ready to style (and defoliate, since it’s hot here and I want to be sure that scale is gone). I hope I’m in the right forum on this site.

Here are the 4 ‘sides’ of the tree in its current state, and a top view..

7E0D1732-1F3D-4F3C-9570-0A5808131BDD.jpeg


BF32035B-8CD1-4C6F-A297-A445EBF2E9ED.jpeg


C14A38CF-FC83-4051-A427-9A7783CA1454.jpeg


66822A25-F5AE-4E75-800F-BF42E8D2067D.jpeg


E41119FD-943E-4270-84C2-EE312E7AD61A.jpeg


The first photo I anticipate to be the front. I was thinking of removing the first branch as it’s too low and I like the movement without a branch there. Then keep the next branch on the left to be the first branch, the following on the right as the second branch, and the use the next branch on the left as the new leader to get some taper and remove the rest. I hope that makes sense.

Here’s a (pretty embarrassing) sketch of what I’m talking about.

762A3760-F863-47F5-B7F5-EDC006393670.jpeg


Anyway.. sorry it’s not a very well developed piece of stock to be asking advice on, but it’s what I’ve got. Super keen to hear thoughts from anyone.

I hope the photos come up ok, seems I had to reduce waaay below one meg to get them to load..

Thanks in advance

Dave
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Re: Ficus styling input

Postby DangerousDave » September 4th, 2018, 1:32 pm

My novice status is showing, by ‘nebari’ I meant the flare at the base of the trunk, rather than root flare, which I realise is probably therefore an incorrect use of the term.. sorry about that

-insert embarrassed face emoji here-
Last edited by DangerousDave on September 4th, 2018, 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ficus styling input

Postby robb63 » September 4th, 2018, 9:54 pm

Hi Dave
That looks like a solid plan you have made and a good sketch. Drawing is a very helpfull tool in bonsai :tu:
Figs are one of the toughest trees, great to learn bonsai on. You made a good buy there for $5
A good thing to remember is whatever you cut off means the tree will have less leaves for growth
If your happy with trunk size that's not an issue.
One mistake I made when I started was over pruning everything :palm: even bargain bin trees.
These days I just repot them and let them regain strength for a while. Then prune or style
You will find great info here on ficus and heaps of different approaches to developing them into bonsai
cheers
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Re: Ficus styling input

Postby shibui » September 4th, 2018, 10:11 pm

Hi DD. No need to apologise for posting. Your tree may not be earth shattering but does have good potential and will be great for learning with.
I would suggest having another look at your proposed style. Then have a look at some figs in your area - I'm sure you can find plenty of examples of older trees in the parks and forest areas. I don't think I've seen very many figs that look even remotely like your sketch (even allowing for less than perfect artistic skills). I believe that one of the aims of bonsai is to depict a natural looking tree or at least one that people can believe is natural looking so we should be trying to make our bonsai look something like the real thing where possible. When I think of figs I think of massive trunks with buttress roots and large branches spreading out in all directions - often branches rising slightly from the trunk then sweeping down to form an umbrella canopy. That's the sort of style I'd be trying to convey with ficus bonsai however there's no rules so you can legitimately make whatever shape you like.

You can already see on your tree that figs like to just grow longer and longer without much ramification. In order to get good ramification of branches you do need to prune. Another thing I've discovered is that most trees grow longer rather than shorter so you usually need to make the first pruning cut just near the point where you want the first forks to start and then let the new branches grow out to the desired canopy limits. I suppose what I'm trying to get at is that I think you'll need to cut your tree's branches a lot shorter than you've indicated in the sketch to get those sub branches you've drawn in. Pruning this hard can be challenging initially but when you see the results it does get easier to prune a bit harder to get better results.
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Re: Ficus styling input

Postby dansai » September 5th, 2018, 7:06 am

I agree with shibui that it needs to be cut back, although I have seen many a tall, rather than wide, fig so I think you idea is OK. Only I would not be removing the lower branch just yet. Either it could become part of the design, or used to help thicken the lower trunk.

And a quick dirt indicating where I would cut.
Fig virt.jpg
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Re: Ficus styling input

Postby DangerousDave » September 5th, 2018, 7:57 pm

Thanks everyone.
I don’t disagree with anything there. “Trees grow longer rather than shorter” - ha! - I can’t tell if you’re taking the piss, but it’s completely valid either way :)

I’m glad I posted, I was just going to go for it, but this is clearly good advice.. particularly about emulating a natural looking tree.. that’s a big part of the appeal for me. Bonsai with hand-of-the-maker evident puts me off. I’ll go for the longer term goal and the spreading canopy fig look.

I don’t know much, but I’m not afraid to prune fig stock hard. To be honest, I’ve quite a few heavily pruned fig ‘sticks in pots’ as long term projects. I was hoping this one might be just slightly advanced past stick enough to get some results quicker. I’m getting hooked, but I’m a while away from having anything truly worthy of an actual bonsai pot. I noted a comment from shibui in another thread about ‘having a few things in bonsai pots is good for your bonsai self esteem’ - I’m looking forward to having some of that :)

Having said all that - this thread looks like a good way to make some quick ground:

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=6717

We certainly have the conditions for it in the tropics here too.

Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to give me fairly detailed advice on what is little more than a stick. I’ll likely post on this tree again when it shoots some branches.
Dave
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