Thursday, 3 December 2015

My First Workshop

I still remember the first bonsai workshop I attended. It was February 2008 and I'd only been a member of my club for about three months, so I didn't know any of the other members well yet. Combine that with the fact that I was the only woman at that workshop and it will come as little surprise that I found the experience slightly overwhelming.
February 2008 - before the workshop

The tree I took to that workshop was the Ficus Wiandi above. It's a rather brittle variety of Ficus, so I was advised not to wire the branches but rather to style it using the clip and grow method, aided by the odd stick used for support.

I removed some of the unwanted branches at that workshop but told my instructor that I'd remove the others at home . My reason? I wanted to plant the cuttings. At that stage my tree looked like this:

February 2008 - after the workshop

Some of the men doubted my resolve to go through with what was suggested, believing that I was afraid to do heavy pruning on my tree, but they were wrong. I went home and removed those branches, putting them into jars of water while I waited for them to root. At that stage my tree was looking pretty bare:

February 2008 - after final pruning

 After that I let it grow unrestrained until December 2008 before taking it to another workshop. During that period it grew really well and the trunk thickened up considerably.

December 2008 - before pruning

After another workshop, it looked like this:

December 2008 - after pruning

The highlight of my relationship with that tree was when I displayed it at our 2009 club show, only 20 months after that first workshop. It didn't take much to satisfy me back then and our club has always encouraged beginners to show their trees, so this is what I put on display:

On show - October 2009

As I grew more experienced I started to see my tree's shortcomings and tried to improve its appearance, but in doing so I forgot my instructor's advice and tried  to wire one of the branches. Sure enough it broke off.

I still persevered with it for a while after that, but it refused to do what I wanted it to, so when show time came around again, I decided to put it on the sales table.

On the first morning of the show one of our senior members was looking at the sales table and got into a discussion on how to improve my tree. Apparently he decided to demonstrate what he would do and, unaware of its brittle nature, he snapped off another branch. Under the circumstances he felt obliged to buy the tree.

I still have one of its cuttings.

Uncooperative cutting - December 2015

It has developed a nice plump base, but like its parent before it, it refuses to give me a decent branch structure to work with. I keep cutting back the top, hoping to get some back-budding, but I fear I'm fighting a losing battle.

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