Everyone knows them the Chinese mass production ficus trees sold as bonsai. Cheap and ugly plants. I picked one up today the man sold it for 20 euro. That’s $27,18 or BP16.64 A bargain and took the challenge of making it in something more bonsai-like. It was 1.2m high. I managed to find foliage closer to the trunk and bend some branches closer. The left branch has to come down more but it will take time.
The lighter is there for size.
Here’s a before and after
For some more info on this here’s an article I did for http://bonsaiempire.com/blog/ficus-mallsai
Because today I decided to re-enter the next years NTC qualifications and I am going for 1st place next year I thought everything should be practice. And out of complete boredom because it’s close to becoming winter here.. At the NTC a friend of mine bought a small ‘mallsai’ ficus and said he was going to try to make a decent little tree out of it in 5 years. Wandering through a garden center I spotted a ficus. Typical chinese mass production sold as ‘bonsai’, but actually it’s not and they are ugly as hell. Because they are rather easy to grow indoors and some like this one cost me 10 euro’s I decided to accept the challenge.
I see heaps of people on the internet forums asking what to do with it and the general advice the get is: ‘Airlayer it and make it smaller.’ All because the foliage pads are so far apart on the plant. I took that advice except for the airlayering part and only used the lower part. Will it be possible to get a decent ramification and smaller leaves in 2 years? I don’t know but I like to find out. And what about shari on a ficus? So in the name of science and attempt to make it bonsai here’s the result.
This is what I had in mind…
At the time we were competing in the NTC there was also a end of season sale at the nursery. They took off 40% of the prices and we were there 2 hours after opening, but I really wanted to see the rush and stampede when they opened the doors. People told me it was a mad house! I didn’t buy anything, but still our car was packed with trees when we left… My girlfriend bought herself 2 trees YESSSSS! Haha and my good friend Jelle had put some trees in my car. A rather large potentilla and a Big Hedera he dug out.
Know Hedera isn’t a common species in bonsai and mostly seen just as vines crawling up walls and bigger trees, but Sandevbonsai (Sorry don’t know his real name) posted a clip of his Hedera which is stunning. The best Hedera bonsai i’ve ever seen! So when seeing that I knew it is possible and going to give it a shot myself.
A couple of trunks are dead but it has new growth in the right places to build up a tree. Because they grow vigorously I think in two years it can be a close to something called bonsai. This week i’m going to work the deadwood so mother nature can do here job during the harse winter weather to come.
When I got it
after reducing the dead branches
Yesterday was the NTC and it was fun sadly I didn’t win.. The competitors skills were pretty high and I kind of underestimated them. I thought going for a rather safe tree would give me a win, but although I kept all the guidelines in mind. But the winner deserved it he had a great tree. We got tree hours to style an Itoigawa Juniper from raw stock. And to be honest I had drew out my design a week before already because I really wanted a small upright dense juniper. That was a bad idea because, going in safe mode and because I was already thinking that design it lacked my creative skills. Nevertheless i’m happy because when I got home I compacted the tree and it is now ready to grow into the tree I wanted in my garden for a long time. So hopefully in two years it will be small, compact, small negative spaces, with dense foliage pads and sharp lines. And maybe if I decide to re-enter the competition I will go for a more creative tree to win. here’s the result.
I love the challenge of making something bonsai wise out of ordinary garden center plants. Here’s a before and after of a small uninteresting mugo pine that can turn out turn out to be a little more interesting after a few years of bonsai training.
I made a start and soon I will add more pictures to show it’s progression.
This starter tree I acquired from bonsai club Koya. It was one of the trees in the lottery for the NTC qualifications. And at that time I hoped to get that one, because when I saw it it only took me a split second to come up with a design. But… I got the other one and this one was left over.
But I managed to get it anyway for some more NTC practice and managed to get a decent result in 3 hours time.
The trunks and top of the main trunk were wrapped in raffia, but because of the limited time I decided to do a second layer with black tape, because it’s much faster to apply. The hardest part was finding a balance between the trunks and foliage by placing them in the right positions.
One thing I noticed and already knew was, that when i’m fully focused and not distracted by anything i’m much faster and accurate. So with that lesson in mind i’m almost ready for next saturday!
Here’s a before and after, in the future i’m planning on refining the branch structure and pads and connect the three trunks with some deadwood features and live veins crawling over it. The deadwood and live veins will eliminate the fork look of the trunks and add more movement to the composition. Also by planting base of the lowest trunk against the soil surface it will look more natural and as if it grows from the base of the main trunk.
The Dr Pepper can is there for size by the way.
Because almost all my deciduous trees lost there leaves I decided to wire them.
My acer arakawa I never really paid attention to except some basic care was in need of some work so I can develop and refine the tree more in The future.
Also the wisteria had a significant straight part in the trunk and also needed some structure. I will reposition The branches again in spring so the flowers have room to cascade.
My mame seem to enjoy there new shelter and I added a better picture of my spruce forest.
The crappy wire job on The main tree will be fixed soon. 😉
Now it’s time to build my wintershelter (for the trees ;)) and practice for The NTC.