Friday, 11 November 2016

The Topless Ficus

I've managed to accumulate a few problem trees over the years, but right now I'm really frustrated by a recent acquisition.

Back in April I was hoping to enter the Reddit bonsai group's Annual Nursery Stock Contest even though I knew that it was the wrong time of the year for such an undertaking given that I live in the Southern hemisphere.

In due course I bought three trees which I hope to turn into bonsai one day, but I quickly eliminated two of them as candidates. I immediately got to work on the third though. This is what it looked like when I bought it.

Ficus Nitida as purchased - April 2016

I quickly removed some dead and 'useless' branches and tried rather unsuccessfully to create something that looked like it could become a bonsai fairly quickly.

First styling - early April 2016

However, from the start I was not happy with the result as the tree was much too tall for my liking and the leader was growing too far forward.

I quickly realised that this was not going to be a short term project so I took it to a workshop two weeks later, with the intention of cutting back to the branch marked below, though I was a bit concerned about creating a big scar facing straight at the viewer.

Side view showing leader growing too far forward

My mentor had other ideas however, and I came home with my tree looking like this:

After workshop - mid-April 2016

Although I knew this was going to be a long, slow process, I'd have been happy to continue from that outline, but unfortunately my tree had other ideas and the new leader died leaving me with this:

After removing dead leader - July 2016

In this photo the top branch had been cut back in the hope of encouraging new growth at the top of the trunk, something which still hasn't happened.

My tree is growing quite happily on both branches, but refuses to produce any new growth above the top branch. This is what it looks like this week:

November 2016

At the moment the only possible solution I can see is grafting a new leader, an idea which doesn't appeal to me. Besides, there is die-back at the site of the cut, so I'm not sure how successful that would be.

I'm considering taking it to another workshop this weekend, because this one really has me stumped.

No comments yet, but I'd love to hear your view.

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