[360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

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Steven
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[360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Steven »

G'day,

Here is a Tiger Bark fig that I recently acquired from Mii who was selling his collection.

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Apparently it was imported from Japan into Melbourne in the 1980's and then sold to Mii around 1999. The first owner is deceased so the history is a bit hazy.

It instantly appealed to me because of its natural appearance and character and I am really looking forward to further refining it. It hasn't been repotted for a few years so I will be getting it into some fresh medium soon and adjusting the planting angle at the same time.
Tiger Bark side A.JPG
Tiger Bark side B.JPG
Tiger Bark side C.JPG
Tiger Bark side D.JPG
Tiger Bark side A with beverage.JPG
Mii saying good bye.JPG
Unfortunately there are some substantial wire marks on several branches.

So, what would you do? Ideas, virts and explinations are encouraged.

Regards,
Steven
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Grant Bowie »

Hi Steve, nice one.

no worries about the wire marks on the Fig. It just means it is a true "tiger" as it has stripes.

Love to see it in the flesh. Probably remove the one aberrant root to start with or pull it in to become part of the trunk.

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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Pup »

Hello to you Steven nice buy. However I agree with Grant on that root or arial, but I would dish the whole branch.
Looking at side B the tree looks better in a more upright postion.
So if you do loose the first branch and stood it up, in my opinion you would improve the tree. Giving it a more overal apperance of a large canopy type Ficus.

Just my opinon Cheers :) Pup
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Jamie »

hi Steven :D

this is a great tree with some potential, and I see a long term (2 years or so) for a new trunk line that will really work, with an extra tree from a layer ;)

let me virt it out for you, I just got home after 2 days on the road so it wont be until tomorrow some time :D
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Steven »

G'day,

I finally got around to starting work on this one. It's health had improved greatly since I got it but was in desperate need of a repot and haircut.
2011 December.jpg
2012 January fruit.jpg
On new years eve I bare rooted and hosed off all remnants of the solid mess that used to be potting medium. About 90% of the roots were removed and it was potted into a mix of Diatomite, Zeolite and coco fiber. The stray aerial root was also removed.
2012 January root work.jpg
2012 January underside.jpg
I gave it a slight trim just so I could see the structure a bit better and it is now sitting in full sun (rain at the moment) and will be totally wired in the near future. It looks a bit funny as it is because the direction it's moving is wrong and the apex is way too high.
2012 January.JPG
What are your thoughts on future styling?

Regards,
Steven
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Steve Warren »

Very nice aquisition Steven. I love the new pot and angle. Looks better with the stray root gone. I am too much of a newbie to give you advise on future styling, however the apex looks a little high for me.

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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by kcpoole »

I would bring the right hand branch down a little I think.
Then trim the apex back to create a nice domed canopy :-)

Nice tree too :yes:

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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Steven »

G'day,

I really like this tree but haven't really done anything with it since it was repotted over 18 months ago. The odd stray branch had been cut off but that's about it. I took it along to the Tops Weekend put on by Illawarra Bonsai Society and did a workshop on it with Robert Steven. Robert commented that it was great ficus material and the age shown in the trunk is highly valued. He loved the powerful first branch but really disliked the fact that it had been styled with one single trunk-line up to the apex. He was passionate that this should be avoided with all tropical/deciduous bonsai at all cost.

Here is how it was looking last week.
2013 September (a).JPG
2013 September (b).JPG
Robert's first instruction was to study the tree and decide on the best viewing angle. I had 2 possibilities and Robert helped me decide on one but changed it by tilting the tree. First step was to repot and re-position then start cutting... and cutting.

The new structure is now there and when it shoots I'll select branches then cut back the existing ones further. The plan is to make up one overall silhouette from all the individual foliage pads while leaving open spaces between 'for the birds to fly'. The top of the tree is to be constructed from multiple branches like a mature ficus. The overall height will be not much higher than it is now.
2013 September (c).JPG
Regards,
Steven

P.S. as a bonus I got a really nice cutting that should become a good mini in a couple of years :tu:
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Steven »

Just got emailed this photo of me with Robert after the workshop. Thanks Boris!

Regards,
Steven
2013 September SH with RS.JPG
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Steven »

It's been a bit over 2 years since the workshop and restyle of this Tiger Bark.

Do you think the first branch should be extended further?

Regards,
Steven
2016 January (2).JPG
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Gerard »

Yes! This tree is all about the first branch, this is what makes it special.
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by kcpoole »

Yep make it longer

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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by hard1all »

I applaud your decision to leave the aerial roots on.

Not only do they look 'natural' on a fig but, as can be now clearly seen, they form part of the base of this tree.

Also, that magnificent lowest branch that gives this tree its character would not be as impressive it it was denied these roots to support its growth.

I suspect that as this lowest branch continues to develop and lengthen this tree will reduce in height and increase in spread - just as some figs do in nature.

It did look a bit 'sad' after Robert Steven had finished with it but the end result is testimony to his work and yours.
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Steven »

I attended the Universal Penjing Conference at the NBPCA yesterday and workshopped this ficus with Fan Shunli.
Thanks to Leigh, Samuel, Grant, John and Jake who assisted in wiring EVERY branch :shock:
2018 September Before R.jpg
2018 September R.jpg
Regards,
Steven
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Re: [360°] Ficus microcarpa 'Tiger Bark'

Post by Piscineidiot »

This tree's stunning. Certainly an inspiration. Interesting to read Robert's comments about 'single lines' to apices being things to avoid in deciduous and tropical bonsai. I've often thought Ficus bonsai were cultivated in such a manner way too often - totally at odds with their natural growth habit (more like an octopus/broom style). Might have some tough decisions of my own to make come summer...
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