Monday, 27 June 2016

Mother Ficus

Mother Ficus is one of my oldest surviving trees. She's the ancestor of every Ficus Natalensis I own.

I found her in the bonsai section of a local nursery about ten years ago bearing the label "Ficus", with no indication of what variety she was. All I knew was that she wasn't a Benjamina, which was the only variety of Ficus that I owned at the time, but that was enough to convince me that I should give her a home.

She was an ugly little tree with a trunk about the thickness of a pencil and terrible branch structure, and once I'd bought her I didn't really know what to do with her. Back then I didn't know enough about bonsai to have the faintest inkling of how I could improve her appearance. Instead I decided to propagate what proved to be the first of many offspring - the tree which appears in my introductory post and is also the subject of an article which I published at HubPages several years ago.

A few months after I joined my club I decided to see if something could be done to make her look better, so I took her to a workshop. The organiser took one look at her and recommended a trunk chop. Instead of an ugly tree, I went home with a sorry looking stump about three inches high, uncertain whether she'd live or die.

Eventually a few weak buds sprouted at the site of the chop but by then there was far stronger growth coming out of the base of the trunk. This was not what I had expected!

Once more I took her to a workshop.

"That's your tree," I was told.

My teacher was referring to the strong new stem coming out of the roots. I wasn't delighted when he told me to remove what remained of the old trunk, but reluctantly I followed his advice. Now all that remained of the tree I'd bought was the roots.

Eight years later Mother Ficus is happily living in a bonsai pot and has been on show at my club a few times.

Mother Ficus - June 2016

She'll never be a show-stopper but she's a far better tree than I ever hoped she would be. Her biggest weakness is her poor nebari (roots) but hopefully in time I'll be able to fix that too.

Linking up with NF Trees n Bushes.

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