Common Name: Ficus [L: Ficus Long Island]
Source: nursery stock
Broom Style (Intact leader variant)
This is one of the first trees that I trained as bonsai. Ficus are good hardy plants, fast growing, well branched and as a specie, reaching great heights in nature, many of them featuring aerial roots in tropical climates.
I purchased this plant in 1993 from a nursery when it must have been about 3 years old. In my eagerness to create bonsai, I started its training immediately, putting it in the rectangular oval pot seen in the photograph, and incidentally, one of the largest pots I had at the time. I decided to train it into the Informal Upright style and shaped it accordingly. Being an air layering, it had ample rootage; I retained the roots growing from the trunk in order to allow the trunk to thicken up; the plant had good primary branches fortunately located at the right levels and all I had to do was to wire them into position.
The plant started to show improvement immediately, branching out in all directions.
Within 2 years of potting this tree I noticed that it was branching out in all directions. On viewing it from all sides I observed that the back offered a better prospect as a front; I therefore turned the tree back to front. The resulting new front was a noticeable improvement upon the previous one. The new back also had a greater depth. The trunk also has a markedly pronounced curve as seen from the new front, more in keeping with its style.
From 1995 to 1997 I did not repot this tree, letting it grow unchecked as much as possible. But when I decided to do a solo exhibition in 1998 at Dombivali, I reviewed this tree among others, as a potential display specimen.
I was somehow not happy with the trees style and general appearance and resolved to re-style it – not an easy task at any time. I gave it serious thought and after much tilting amp; turning, settled for an intact leader variant of the Broom style. I therefore re-wired all the primary branches, bending and twisting them left and right along their lengths to simulate aged sweeping branches along all 360 degrees.
I repotted the tree in Feb. 1998 in a much larger drum pot. As seen in the photograph, the branch peripheries looked rather untidy. I had to embark upon a program of heavy feeding and rigorous pruning to develop the foliage pads.
Regular feeding and constant pruning paid handsome dividends; within a year amp; a half the tree developed nice foliage pads. The overall silhouette also improved considerably. I reduced the apex to conform to the tree’s new image of an aged bonsai and it made an amazing difference to its appearance.
My only regret was that the trunk had not thickened as much as I wanted. But this bonsai definitely fulfills my vision of a majestic tree in a parkland setting.