Busy Bonsai Weekend With My Giant Mall Ficus

A Busy Bonsai Weekend, The Bonsai Zone, Oct 2022

Protecting My Giant Mall Ficus

I have only two of the Giant Mall Ficus left, so Ross took a larger one, so the smaller one is left over here and Matt is going to take that and then the wall Ficus over here is for Manuela we’re going down to -1 degrees Celsius.

On Sunday night, so they’re going to pick them up before it freezes outside here, one degree below freezing the only way of protecting them would be to cut them back and bring them in the plant room. In the meantime, we’ve been getting down to some pretty cold temperatures at night, with a risk of frost, so I’ve been putting this tarp over top of the trees to protect them until they get picked up.

There was a high demand for these giant mall ficuses to convert them into large-sized Bonsai, and I decided I don’t really need a giant Ficus. I have a lot of Ficus on the go and I’m very happy with the ones I have.

I do, however, have a call into the mall manager. There was a lot of medium-sized ones in the storage room and I’m going to see if they’ll part with a few more of those, because there’s a high demand for these trees, taking these giant trees and reducing them to Bonsai.

So hopefully I’ll get a more medium sized one in the future. Today, I’m trying out some stands underneath some of my possible show trees. So I have a stand that looks nice under the Franken ficus. I have a stand that looks nice under the Cedar Forest here.

I tried out my Norfolk Island Pine Forest on top of this stand, and it looks quite nice. It fits it nicely. I was trying out ones with my root over Temple here. This is a stand that Connor gave me bamboo stand and I’ve got some other of the larger stands that I’ll be trying out with some more of my forests, it’s quite rare to find books of bonsai that show the trees with the stands underneath them.

This is one by  Amy Lang. Is it Liang, uh and there’s a lot of stands displayed underneath the trees here for Matt to have a look at there’s men, lung pending by Wu, Yi Sun? That’S a good one! It has a stand under almost every tree.

In the book, so it’s really fantastic. It gives you a good idea of how the different stands.

Look under different trees, the misting system in the greenhouse has been working fantastically there’s. An added benefit I found is that at the night time I bring all my Tropicals into the greenhouse because it’s getting cool at nights now just to keep them warm.

Giant Mall Ficus, The Bonsai Zone, Sept 2020

I have the heat on and I found that because my my misting system controls are here. I can fill the floor of the greenhouse up and then I just have to turn on the switch here and everything in the greenhouse gets watered, which is just fantastic, because you can’t get back there to water, the ones in the corner with all the plants in Them I always so it’s really nice just to be able to flip a switch and everything in the entire Greenhouse gets watered.

It’S just fantastic. So that’s an added benefit to the misting system that I never imagined. While I’m waiting for people to arrive today, I’m going to go in the greenhouse here and I need to prune my monkey ear tree back.

So it’s on the floor down here and the trees have grown up through the bench and you can see them up here. Sticking way up, so I got prune them back all right here I go so here’s that shoot. So I want to prune it back fairly tight, there’s a shoe coming out here, so I could take it right back I’ll.

Take it here off to there pull it through wow did that ever grow, that’s a huge shoot. They do root from cuttings, but I have enough in here. I don’t think I need any more I’ll prune this one back too I’ll put it right back to here.

There’S another one shooting up through here I’ll prune it back to here: there’s one coming off to the side here: I’ll, take it back to here and there’s a couple coming off of this one. So I’ll take it back to here and here and that gets that shortened back.

That clears up a lot of bench. Space and bench space will be important in the next couple of days because we’re going below freezing so all the Tropicals will have to come into the greenhouse and the poly house.

I am also working away at the plant room. I’Ve got a bunch of roof beams here. Ready to go in. This is for my attic that goes up in the top corner of the roof. I’M a little late, getting started working away at the the plant room, but hopefully I’ll get it done before the trees have to come in for the winter.

The misting system just came on how exciting you can see it. Watering everything my asparagus fern here is getting nicely watered, keeping those roots wet and there it goes off benches – are all dripping really cool.

I’m going to make some room in the poly house too, for more Tropicals. I have some hearty trees in here that just don’t need to be in here. I’Ve got my Royal Oaks or my English Oaks here. I the only reason I kept them in the greenhouse was the squirrels will dig up the acorns, but the acorns they’ve separated.

Now the trees are well underway, so they can go outside for the fall and stay outside from then on. I’Ve got my boxwood Forest here. These were collected this year and I kept them in the greenhouse until they kind of rooted and recovered and for some reason I’ve just never moved them, so they don’t need to be in the greenhouse.

I have a Wisteria in here which is grown up to the ceiling that doesn’t need to be in here either, so I can move that out. There’S another pot full of boxwoods there that can go outside and that’s about it.

I think everything else is tropical in here, so I’ll work away at that clear up some more space in here, because every tropical has to be protected for Sunday night. I try and keep my tropical trees outside as long as possible when the trees are outside.

They get good sunlight, they don’t have insect problems, they’re just nice, air circulation and they’re. They stay quite healthy when it gets really cool in temperature. They don’t grow much, but they’re not declining like sometimes when you bring them indoors.

The health of the tree is really good. Outside you bring it in doors, leaves start dropping off. You start getting insect problems and the plant biller survives until spring, so I leave them outside as long as possible where they stay healthy, they’re, not growing much but at least they’re healthy and then bring them in for the winter.

So I can keep them in the greenhouses, the poly house and the greenhouse here until the temperature gets down to about five degrees below freezing. So then it starts getting dicey. You know you don’t want to have your Greenhouse freeze over.

So that’s when I bring them inside and that’s usually towards the end of October, and it depends a lot on the weather, but I’m hoping to keep them out for at least another month. I’M clearing up lots of space.

I have the Royal Oaks out. The boxwoods are out so I think I want to get the Wisteria out. Also, it’s growing really really tall should have lots of energy for next year, so I’m going to prune it off short and then move it outside also, I think right here that gets it.

Nice and short and I’ll move it outside. The only reason I had the Wisteria inside is that I had a cutting growing in the pot. The Cutting was doing well in Spring. It came out in the leaf and then it just slowly slowly declined over the summer.

So it didn’t make it, but I still have the parent tree, so I can keep trying with some other cuttings in the future. Maybe in the glass Greenhouse with the misting system that should grow cuttings quite easily.

Here is a look at the amount of space I cleared up, so I have a lot of space on this end bench and then a lot on the side bench here, so lots of room for more Tropicals. So I’m quite sure I can fit them all in.

In the two greenhouses, the poly house here and the glass Greenhouse, so Manuela and Rina are over here and we’ve got the giant mall Ficus on the bench here and it’s pruning time. So it’s definitely larger than I thought it was yeah and there’s some tough decisions to make.

Isn’T there kind of got to decide like some of these are being pruned off already? Haven’T they? Yes, like some of these, you can see that one probably died back. Didn’T it I don’t know if it’s alive dead, yeah, yeah they’re, always risky these benjaminus hard pruning them.

Sometimes you get good results. Sometimes you don’t, but that’s why I’m going to leave uh I’m going to leave some girls, some Greenery okay, so it’s always safe to do that? Isn’T it well, there isn’t any green until way up here way up yeah! That’S the trouble! Okay! I need the loppers for that one yeah, you might have to take a risk on some of these eh all right catch the branch.

If we can okay here we go there, we go. I think he may have got the tallest of these trees. All that all that uh, that can all be see the compost file behind you here. Yes, you can just throw it straight on there.

I wonder if we can make another one out of it, you could they would root his cuttings, hey Jay. I was going to contact Connor about these and my wife said: don’t you dare contact Connor? He doesn’t need any more trees and I thought you guys have a greenhouse at a big Greenhouse.

So I thought it’d be uh. Do you want gloves good tree it? Really? They really bleed, don’t they? Yes? Well, it’s good pruning, you’re, doing a good job yeah. If you have the space, the ideal situation is to chase the foliage back is to prune it from the top, let the bottom stuff grow and then just keep pruning it back.

Further and further, if you can, but that requires a lot of space, definitely that’s good. Very few people do for something like this size and you have a pickup truck to bring it home with. So that’s, not many people have that either.

Have you ever tried to root a ficus when it’s this old? Yes, you have, I have and they root yeah. I usually do it in water, okay, I’ve had lots of in water yeah. I seem to have more luck in water than in soiling yeah.

I think if you put it in soil, you probably need bottom heat on the soil to keep it really warm. Oh, like a heating mat yeah, okay yeah that will should work. I know that’s how Mike and the club rooted all those tiger bark Ficus cuttings.

He had oh okay, okay, a bottom Heat mats and, and they all rooted, they all did really well. Okay, yeah Ficus. You can pretty well root any size cutting as long as you have the right conditions. You know foreign humidity.

Some of these have bare branches. All the way to the top yeah, probably because they’ve you know, had very little pruning in the mall. They probably just whatever shoots up near the skylights grows and just keeps going Shades out the lower branches, because some of them not this one.

But some of them had like all these fine branches on the bottom, but they all died off because they weren’t getting light. But this one’s pretty good, I love the way some of the roots are twisting around yeah yeah.

It’S amazing yeah. I I like, if you hit this, it feels like it’s concrete yeah, it’s hard. I think it’s listen to that yeah. I think it’s definitely severely popped out, we’ll have to cut it off yeah all right.

Okay, so is that like sawing through wood or pretty well just get a little bit down here? Okay! Well, I see dark soil. That’S a good sign! That’S! Okay! All washable! Okay! I’M going to lift this up, yeah, okay, take this away! There we go.

Oh there’s still a piece on the bottom here there. Well, that is not as bad as I imagined. I was expecting to see more white like solid massive white. I thought would see like big Woody yeah thick Roots down on the side.

There’S a lot of fine Roots, yes or maybe it has been repotted once in its life. You never know the soil looks all right. Doesn’T it it’s lots of it’s not decomposed. It looks like uh, maybe it’s like some type of a moss.

Well, it is solid, though, isn’t it it is like, but here here it’s not. You can yes there’s a bit of soft spots, it might have been repotted, but they didn’t uh remove any of the roots on the bottom, so they just kept getting harder and harder down there.

Yeah, maybe re-rooted up here, because these look like fresher Roots yeah, whereas this is it, you can knock on it yeah hard as a rock at the bottom come late spring early summer, we’ll give it the full Nigel treat cut it through here, yeah cut it down Top and bottom top and bottom well, if you get a lot of foliage like, I would still try and chase the top down.

If you can always keeping green foliage on it, right right, try and avoid the hard right hard prunes with no okay Hail, Mary cuts. None of those okay, if there’s any other Ficus, you could just hack it and it would Sprout no problem, but the benjaminas are a little more sensitive they’ll sometimes die back instead of sprouting out, which is strange.

Well, I’m I’m pretty happy with this. That’S for sure yeah. I think that’s yeah. I think the tree’s going to stay healthy over the winter. Isn’T it very healthy. I’M I’m shocked that it’s this healthy yeah look at these beautiful fine, yes, yeah, they’re they’re in good shape, lots of feeder Roots off it and everything yeah.

That is a perfect route yeah on an old old tree. You can’t ask for anything better than that. Yeah yep, okay, let me get the bigger pot and all right get her home awesome. So we got the tree and we slipped it into a new pot here.

So the this is a bigger pot, so there’s room to put some fresh soil around. It should increase the health over the winter, get it on the road to Super health for the mid-summer reduction the Sun is setting on another day.

It was really nice having Manuela in Reno. Over today he took home the big mall Ficus with him. It would be interesting to see what they do with it. Yeah we’ll keep track of all these mall ficus, follow them along in their journey to becoming bonsai in the future years.

Here Comes Matt, hey, Matt, how’s it going temperature dropping in the shade it is getting cold. Isn’T it Winter’s on its way? I know Matt and I are working today on this – stand that Matt made in 2022.

So this color, we, I tried the root over Temple. Ficus on it – and it was the color, the terracotta pot, in this they’re kind of close together in tone anyway, um brightness. So we were thinking of kind of darkening the stand up, and I was going to rub that Roofing tar on it like I did with the stand here this one here kind of giving it that, ah almost an antique finish on it.

So we’re just scraping it down sanding it up getting ready for the thin tar application and not sure what it’s going to look like, but uh. You know you don’t know unless you try. I don’t know unless you try all right.

Matt here goes. The reduction of the mall ficus: this is the smallest one, but uh. It’S also got a pretty nice uh base on it. Doesn’T it it’s so you just keep clicking it and it’ll hold it just cut right through anything, don’t they and then you can just toss the branches, see that pile back there yeah you just if you can, if you can make it over there there you go Cuttings yeah yeah take as many yeah cuttings as you want on top of here.

Yeah aren’t those pruners great thanks Tom yeah, so someone said those are made by Ironwood tools in the states and someone said: there’s some other brands but uh. They said they were fairly expensive, like about 70 dollars, yeah yeah, there’s nothing else that cuts like that.

Is there nicer to get the big loggers, yeah and especially yeah the big loppers would do it, but especially if you have like hand trouble like you know, if you’re hand sore or something you you know, you don’t need a lot of strength and you can cut Through some pretty big stuff you can get into the hard to reach spots as well.

Yeah, I find a very precise cut. You just line it up. Click away and it’s cut and such a clean cut too see how it’s bleeding yeah there it goes yeah. That’S heavy, isn’t it yeah it’ll be interesting to see how they react? I hope that they sprout everywhere.

They have too many branches come out and you have to choose which ones you keep a good problem to have yeah. Oh that’s awesome man! That’S a nice front! Here, isn’t it like right about here is a nice front for the planting yeah, even that one on the side looks kind of cool yeah.

Some of them will have to reposition, Maybe yeah. This branch is going through the middle in the middle and readjust them and go and see that see the where the root system goes and play around with that and just let it grow yeah just let it recover and well that’s awesome, all right Matt.

We are ready all set up here to stain the table, the darker accent colors on it. Hopefully, it’ll go well. So here I go all right. I’M going to start on the top surface, see how it goes. So this is just the thinned Roofing tar, the Warsaw.

I’Ve got a rag here to kind of smooth it out. So here I go. I’M gonna get a little beating from the wax, but not too much I’m going to rub it with the towel. Rub it down see how it goes. You can always Build It Up in thin layers and increase the intensity.

Any change not too much is there well we’ll try on the trying to front surface now brush here, oozing out there a bit, maybe let it sit for a few minutes just for a minute or so in a little bit, yeah I’ll, redo kind of the edges Of the top here, a little bit up a little darker kind of it’s in a bit.

Oh, let me come out front different. All right, I’m going to try just doing a bit of a wipe seems to be working. Doesn’T it that’s sort of what you go for yeah yeah, I love the drips off. It’S all an experiment, yeah well I’d, rather go a little light at first and see how it’s looking can’t go, lighter once you’ve gone dark.

Can you there’s always sandpaper? That’S true. I guess the oven, you can’t – and that’s Too part of that here, starting to get to what we were even is it? Can you notice it a little bit a little bit yeah, it’s subtle at the moment as a little, but it’s to build it up.

I haven’t done this side yet have I was at the side I did. That was the side to do. First. Okay, I think two sort of the way it looks now is what you’re trying to go for yeah long term kind of, but you can, the more you add the more it’s gonna.

Look like that yeah. You could theoretically keep going until it’s black yeah but working it yeah, but I think you’re going to want to go with the grain, though unfortunately, because that’s stuff, I don’t know if it makes a difference or not with the with this application, but it felt better On the brush, that’s for sure, yeah, okay, so then it will help like get it in sanding.

This way was nice and smooth? Okay, yeah, that’s a good tip! So have I gone around all the four sides, at least over here? Oh this side. I have it. It doesn’t just they’re not getting here. Okay, just a keep it consistent right, yeah, I’m going back here yet maybe two is not mix as much um varsal in with it to thicken a little thicker yeah, and maybe just do the edges with that or something or whatever that’s true.

It’S got a nice color to it very golden colors, very rich, looking yeah, that’s the word and all you did was tar it. I know it’s just weird: keep the birds away. We have Tara, not feathers, yeah, and it also waterproofs it a bit.

Oh yeah, so it uh yeah, I’m gonna – have to get myself a can of that it’ll, be our secret secret sauce ridiculous. You know, I wonder if we just let that sit and then just sort of keep an eye on it for a moment or so yeah just make sure it doesn’t drip or anything, and it’s looking good, isn’t it.

Maybe I got ta fix the top a bit. It’S a little a little streaky, but just yeah just uh, you know maybe just dry brush it a bit eh yeah if you’re a painter, you’re a good painter. Just do it drag right, oh yeah, just to make the lights in more consistent.

She brings out the oak grain, that’s nice, isn’t it. I guess you know once it’s dry, I can get a a rag with just a little bit of our salt and just buff it to kind of yeah. If it’s, if I feel it’s too dark in certain spots, yeah just to lighten up those spots, a bit and yeah, we’ve blend it in a bit yeah! Oh! That’S! That’S super! This finish! You’Ll ever put on a table.

That’S for sure what is giving it a ritual here’s, a look at it after kind of the first initial staining or antiquing, it’s looking quite nice. It’S a very rich color darkening. In some areas. It really makes the oak grain stand out very lovely, so we’re going to let that kind of tack dry a bit and then give it a rub down.

Matt and I went for lunch while the table was drying and you can see it has a nice kind of matte finish to it. It looks really really nice. I was thinking uh the terracotta pot, the one the root over Temple Ficus is in.

I was wondering you know if we put the same tar on here, it might give it a nice finish and it might tone with a stand really nicely. So I was going to do a test on this terracotta pot. It on rub it down and see how it looks all right here I go so I’ve got the this is a little thicker of a solution, so I’ll paint it on and rub it off and see what happens? Oh, that’s very! Very black! I’M actually going to use the cloth kind of rub it.

Well, it’s looking pretty nice. I like the color. Maybe I’ve rubbed too much off there, but a bit more just want to get the right. The right! Look that antique kind of Wood-Fired look to it if possible.

Now I may, as this kind of tax dry I’ll clean up the drips a bit, but it oh, I just put a big thumb print in it, but I think it looks quite nice. I think it’ll. Just help blend the pot in with the stand a bit, so they have some similar tonal values.

So now I have a bit of varsal on the rag I’m just going to try rubbing down the table a bit, see what it does. I have a whole lot of Arsenal on it, but let’s see yeah it just sort of lightens it up a bit at the edges and that I don’t know what do you think did you like it better before it gives it a different Sheen to it? Try the top, maybe okay, because it has those spots in it.

I don’t know how well that would go with the green right. Okay, that’s what I would do and just do a subtle wipe to write the oil part off of it off. Okay, yeah and then you can always. If you want darker, you go a little bit darker, it’s looking.

Okay, isn’t it it’s certainly evening it out wherever there was a build up of the black, it’s kind of taking it back a bit. Am I taking it all off? It almost looks like you are in a way, but you can do another coat yeah right.

I would yeah. I can see here the rest of it yeah so because the next batch you’re gonna do less a little less thinned out. Maybe the the tops will be better for that yeah. Does that look even it’s hard to tell on this light? Isn’T it yeah foreign golden kind of Rich color? I wonder if we do a viewer to do another coat, I think so I think, and that other coat do it.

You know almost very, very minimal thin uh varsal on it yeah and then you’ll darken. It kind of let it dry a bit and then or let it dry a little less and okay and then rub it down eh all right. Let’S try that all right here I go with the second coat of the Fairly dark, actually very dark.

It’S black! Oh, there goes the other little pad on the bottom now this may also drip, so it shows kind of graduating at the top. Here you can see the edges picked out there. It looks quite nice, doesn’t it let’s try? The top here I got ta get the black and all this and all the cracks here.

I definitely wanted black and all the little cracks to show. I think it’ll actually looks pretty cool. I think there will and then once you wipe it down, yeah, okay, so that sets in a bit more. Then you can start yeah try to wipe a bit that down a bit Yeah.

I think once it gets a little tacky blend again yeah yeah. I kind of like the dark in some of the spots. I think it looks really the front actually looks really good now. Does it give it a real ancient? Look, doesn’t it well um? What got me thinking in this is, I remember, reading in an Old Violin making book that in the old days they used to use tar as a varnish colorant, and I remember reading that thinking who would use tar as a colorant and then when I started using This on the plant room, I thought.

Oh, it looks really nice when you painted over wood, two guys on a Sunday afternoon, yeah, that’s who doesn’t but to me I I’m gonna start experimenting with different things. Yeah. You know they’ve used uh berries as red red berries is ink or coloring for years.

You know oh yeah yeah. I think I got everything I think so, let’s uh leave it at that clean my arm off here. Oh that just made it worse. I’Ve used coffee beans in water – oh really tea bags, uh just us to color.

You know a little lesson: natural color and then you put your clear coat over it. I’Ve experimented with that here is a look at the table with the second coat on, and it has some beautiful tones in there.

It’s just gorgeous think we’re on the right track. I think it’s we’ve just got to get it to look consistent and that so we’ll let this kind of tack dry and then come back and revisit it. It is much later in the day now, Matt has headed home with his Mall Ficus.

That he’s going to call Molly Brown, which is a cool name, so I’ve let this latest coating of tar kind of tack up on the stand here. So now I’m going to kind of wipe it down a bit, but it’s looking really good.

I, like the color of it, so I’ve just kind of got to even it out on top kind of highlight some of the edges a bit, but basically I’m liking the darker color. I think it’s looking quite nice. The terracotta pot is looking really really nice kind of really subtle, shading on it.

It really looks really nice. I think yeah I like that, put the excess off the top. If I can, without I don’t think too much streaking or anything, that’s looking better up top. Now a little more of the wood colors showing through less blotchy, but it still has that kind of antique look yeah.

That’S that’s a nice finish on the top. Now I like that yeah very nice. Now I’m wondering if I should rub a little more off these front surfaces if they’re too dark even it out a bit with that yeah that looks good yeah.

I think I think I’m gonna leave it at that. I think it’s looking awesome sure. There’S no fingerprints nope, that’s looking good I’ll put it in the sun now, so you can see what it looks like with the sunshine on it.

Here is a look at the table. There’S not much sunlight around, so this is the only spot I could find here. You can see the rich kind of ah the color and the shading yeah. It looks like it’s. You know, 200 years old.

It’S amazing. The top looks really nice now too, very happy with that yeah. It looks good all the way around and you can’t see much in the dark here, but yeah very, very happy with it. So I’ll, let that dry and then there may be a little.

You know I can do a little sanding just to even highlight some edges. More if I want, but I think it looks pretty good very, very nice – I’m dying to try out the tree on top of it, but I can’t until it kind of dries thoroughly so so that is, the antiquing with the black tar looks really really cool.

I think beautiful color, so all is quiet here in the Bonsai Zone we are going down to freezing or slightly below tonight. So that means every tropical has to go in the heated Greenhouse or the heated poly house tonight or they’ll die.

So I’ve got to get busy. You can see the sun yeah it’s getting pretty low. I think I’ve got another hour, maybe an hour and a half of light before it gets pitch black, so I’ll be working away, getting getting everything tucked away in the greenhouses.

Before I fill this greenhouse up on the floor with plants, I’m going to fill up my water supply here, so you can see this is how far down it’s gone in one day, it was full this morning and it’s gone down.

So I would say it’s about a third of one of these garbage can containers that it uses per day, which is pretty good. I could get two maybe three days out of this water supply. Here’S a view of the table in the shadows here, so you can kind of see the color maybe a little more clearly.

I might have to rub this down just a little bit here to bring it out as bright as the legs there, but it’s pretty close. The top turned out really good. I’Ve got just a bit of kind of blackening in the corners yeah.

There could be some subtle kind of effects added later on, but basically it’s pretty good, very, very happy with the table. The test will be with the tree. On top of it, it was a very busy evening. I got all the tropical trees in the greenhouses.

I got all my trees watered and that’s it for tonight. So I’ll show you inside the greenhouses here is the glass Greenhouse. So you can see the floor is just covered with trees. Underneath the benches is full, the top of the benches is full, so yeah a very full greenhouse and it feels so nice and warm in here.

I’Ve got the heater on already, so that’s all set for tonight. I refilled my water bucket back there, so I can, you know tomorrow morning turn the water on. I don’t have to worry about it running out, so this greenhouse is all tucked away ready for the cold tonight beautiful sky tonight, let’s head into the poly house, now check out how full this one is.

So here it is, so I got the benches quite full. Each side there’s still a little bit of space, and I got some trees on the floor. It’s not packed in here. It’S not too bad got the heater on. So everything should be good for tonight in here also what a wonderful again having Manuela and Reno down and then Matt on Sunday.

It was a fantastic day, I really enjoyed it time flew got this table, looking really nice very happy with that. So that’s all for now.

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