After I wrote my last post I started to have serious doubts about taking the topless ficus to a workshop in case someone talked me into taking drastic action that I would come to regret. In the end, however, I decided to take it along, but I was determined that no dramatic pruning would take place.
My mentor wasn't available for the pre-meeting workshop so I turned to the club's youngest member for advice. He's only 16 but he's extremely talented and I felt confident that he wouldn't push me in a direction I didn't want to go.
I'd already realised that the top branch couldn't be pushed as far upwards as I'd have liked, so his suggestion that I change the slant of the tree seemed like the best option.
With the enthusiasm of youth he was keen to reduce the weight of the foliage on the lower branch so I allowed him to do that. Then, knowing that he's one of the few members of our club who actually enjoys wiring and more importantly does it well, I asked him to do a bit of wiring for me.
When he was done the tree looked like this (displayed at approximately the proposed slant):
After the meeting I got the opportunity to show my mentor (who has previously worked on the tree) what had been done. He felt the bend was too high up and suggested this:
No, I haven't chopped it back to the first branch, and I have no immediate plans to do so. Although it may well be the best option, doing so would slow down the tree's development dramatically.
What I am contemplating is scarring the tree opposite the top branch and possibly at the back in the hope of getting a couple of extra branches high up. That would open up the possibility of creating a broom style and keeping the trunk upright.
While I haven't made a final decision on the way forward, I'm feeling a lot better about this tree than I did a week ago.