Judge #1: Interesting design and technique.
Judge #3: The “Half Way” design seems more appealing.
Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina)
Lately I’ve been giving some serious thoughts about styling and developing literati bonsai.
This material caught my eye in the nursery and was bought for that end in mind.
It is long and thin enough to suite the literati style and is flexible enough to be bend safely with a lower risk of breaking.
The only unknown criteria is the state of the roots. The plant’s roots had pierced through the plastic potting bag when I acquired and I can make up a forked root structure at the surface.
One Quarter Progression
I did a first repotting and the roots were not ideal.
There was this long vertical root that I need to remove, but I decided to go at it by removing the undesired root in progressions instead of removing it in on single go. This might take longer to achieve the desired root mass nearer to the base of the trunk, but I feel its the safest approach so as not to tax the tree’s resources too much.
Another reason for the progressive root pruning approach is that I see a potential use of the root’s connection to the trunk to give a flow to the trunk later on.
The ficus was then repotted in a training pot.
Before proceeding further in the tree, I decided to make
sketches and ended up choosing the one below.
Ideally I should be able to make some use of that arching root to some extend in the final design of the tree. The blue extensions are sacrificial branches with potential to become jins in the future, or to be completely removed.
The main challenge in this design will be the extreme bend, and reducing the foliage closer to the main trunk.
I decided to start with the bend first, and allow the plant to recuperate before attempting to work on the foliage.
I identified where the arching root was located and placed a wood peg for reference.
The area where I identified the bend to be has a little issue, It is at the junction between two branches, and the wood is harder there. I could simply apply pressure and bend it, but it will most certainly cause a rupture at the fork, not to mention a high risk of swelling in the long run where the wood cells have been compressed.
To prevent that, I removed several sections of wood in small stages and progressively bend the main trunk.
I had to make sure that no gap would form and that the two Extremities of the cuts would adhere perfectly to one another.
I’ll leave the tree as it is for now to allow it to fuse/seal the cut.
Next step will be to give some shape to the trunk as well as to work on the foliage pads.
Three Quarter Progression
I’ve been monitoring the wires closely and the trunk has been slowly growing into the wire. At its current stage, I’ve decided to remove the wires that were getting too tight near the bend area.
It was also time to handle the foliage and ramification.
I removed the unwanted branches at this stage and kept 3 main primary branch structures.
Then proceeded to wire and position the branches into a basic shape based on the initial design. It will need further refinements later on.
I need to reduce the foliage closer to the primary branch structures over the years.
I also tighten the angle of the bend. When I remove the guy wires enforcing the angle in place I expect the tree to spring back to some extend.
Finally I was going to go for a repotting at this stage, but decided against it in the end and postponed that action to mid January ( which is mid summer here ).
I did check on the state of the roots close to the surface.
I was expecting several adventitious roots, but I found only one.
This should encourage the formation of new roots.
What expected ahead :
> Progressively reduce and toughen the foliage pads to fit initial design.
> Correct / improve the ramification to fit initial design.
> Repot and reduce the arching root to fit initial design.
I am leaving the vertical branch above the bend as a sacrificial branch. I am considering to allow it to thicken slightly more and then to jin it.
At the start of the competition I made some drastic root pruning followed by a daring bend on the main trunk.
I left the foliage intact in both cases to encourage the flow of the sap to encourage new root growth and to encourage the cut to seal up.
This strategy was successful, as you can see with the wire bites on the main trunk, there has been significant growth.
On the otherhand, the overall image of the plant has not been greatly improved.
There is way too much foliage to give a good feeling of a bunjin, and the trunk lacks some interesting curves.
The foliage mass seems too much for the slender trunk.
I am aware of that and of how the current tree looks like, but for now I prefered not to work on the foliage mass any further.
What is planned for the future of the tree:
Well for now I don’t plan on reducing the foliage mass anytime soon, I still want more growth on the thin branch on the apex before I turn it into a jin.
I know it might sound strange, a jin on a ficus, but I am in a tropical context and I see jin, shari and uro on ficus everwhere here.
I will concentrate on giving some more interesting curves as a short term objective.
In the last repotting I found that there were several new roots, but I still need to work on the roots for several growing seasons.
On a long term objective I will have to reduce the foliage mass and select 3 primary branches.
When the apical branch has thicken enough, it will also be time to create the jin.