Shaping Ficus Bonsai – Part 2

In this video I take Ficus and radically changed the style

So let’s look at this one many people think that every bonsai is the same although they may look the same they are very very different believe it or not so whenever i see a tree the first thing i do is i look at it from every side to see which is the front and which is the back now looking at this tree if i can leave you to guess remember what i say there is no right and a wrong way what the grower thought it was a front may not be the front in your view and so on and so forth i have a feeling this tree was trained with this is the front because it’s leaning slightly and this is quite visible so i guess that this was made as the front but let’s analyze it and show you what goes through my life to my way of thinking this is a possible front but what is spoiling it is this branch which is hiding the rest of the trunk you see what beautiful trunk there is there if they were removed you will see the whole beauty of this tree is revealed so these i think is spoiling the tree but before i cut it off let me look at it from the other side don’t ever to be too hasty in making decisions because if you do something in haste it’s like in life you know if you act in haste you’ll repent so don’t act in his because if you act in his you may live to regret it same goes with saying things you know you wish you hadn’t said something so never acting haste so i’ve looked at this side and this side the potential is not so great okay so brings me back to this have a close look again even if i were to remove this branch this here i don’t think it is as interesting as the other side this is also cloudy so this is like a back branch sweeping branch so this particular grower he has this style of making the trees sweep to one side like a kickback so straight away i can tell that i have removed the wires by the way they were wide now these two branches are in the way so seems a shame but i’m going to take it off but as i said earlier ficuses grow from thick cuttings very easily so if i took care i will get another little tree from this so this will make a very nice little informal upright tree there you go so that will become a nice bonsai that will be a cutting and then see already you can see that beautiful trunk by just doing that now this unfortunately it should come off or let me use my branch cutter and let’s take this off i normally do it in two goals but because i want to save the base for making a nice cutting i’ve cut as close as possible to where it should be that’ll be another nice little bonsai so just by removing two of those branches i have now opened up the front so opening the front is very very important because the beauty of the tree of all bonsai is the trunk if you do not show the trunk then the tree is not so attractive and now this i would say is just about one month’s growth lots of very vigorous rogue shoots if you didn’t control these they will shoot into the air and will become another tree almost so again i know there are lots of fine branches but they’re doing nothing all these curly branches they’re worth showing you see look at these a beautiful twist and bend they’ve taken all the trouble to wire so let’s show it to the best of its potential see this is all grown in the last two weeks of course come the winter in the british climate they’re not going to grow so fast my advice to people who live in coal countries like europe and the uk the way to grow ficus as well is probably to grow it in an unheated greenhouse if you have one and bring it into the house from time to time to admire and then quickly return it to the greenhouse and then bring it out from time to time because if you keep it permanently in a living room they will not do well i have a lot of corporate clients that means there are banks mainly banks and architects offices they like these big trees but i always tell them that if you want a tree to look good 12 months of the year don’t expect the tree to be able to do that you have to have a rotation of trees that means keep one growing in a greenhouse if you have your own greenhouse or keep it with us at the nursery and when the other one gets uh a bit tired looking then change it for another one let’s see how drastic i’ll be so this side is done again these lovely area roots with these area roots if you like them then continue to grow them see even these fine things they all become thick area roots given time you see so that’s how you develop it and you can see you can plant it and twist it and they become thicker most of the ficuses have air roots and in fact the most famous ficus that has a lot of aerial roots is the banyan tree the ficus i think that is called bengalinis and that has quite large leaves they don’t make good bonsai but they have stunning area roots i remember seeing the one in the botanical gardens just outside calcutta that one in 2007 when i last saw it had something like 2 000 separate trunks these arrow roots cuts the ground and become trunks now so this side is done you see the effect of pruning and not pruning when you prune it it becomes so refined but if you don’t prune it it’s just a mess but you must admit is not very nice looking so how do you get it nice looking the secret again is to show the branches and the trunks all ficuses are so vigorous look at that long shoot that long shoot if i can take it off and show you that is one shoot that has probably grown in the last three weeks so this is where you’ve got to keep at it don’t let these road shoots grow don’t be too greedy you can’t keep them all so these can be grown into small trees for cuttings and enjoy the small trees but keep the big tree looking its best by meticulous pouring like this so i’m pruning to get back to the branch you can see the branch so you can’t see this pump because it’s too cluttered so what do i do let’s reduce the foliage somewhat everyone has his or her own style of pruning and i think the fun of bonsai is really to enjoy the pruning process beautiful cuttings are good again i’m not going to waste any of this i’m just going to make masses of cuttings give them away or sell them see how dense is this these are not the original design no way was this the original design these have just grown you don’t get rid of it the tree is spoiled this was not the original design even i dare say this wasn’t part of the original design let’s let’s go going downwards now this is the back side let’s keep looking at the front see already it’s looking good on this one i haven’t done everything i’ve got to do more you talk of breaking back on all wood the ficus is the past master doing that so vigorously can’t stop it growing and the wiring has been done in such a way that you create these lovely curves in these branches they’re not just straight you have to curve it see that curly shape and you do that by wiring branches when they’re about this thin and then letting it grow once it gets to this size it becomes more difficult as possible becomes more difficult so depending on where you live these trees grow at different rates if you lived out in the tropics in india or malaysia these trees grow at the rate of lots if you grow it in the ground you will lose control in five years and become huge trees but if you grow them in pots all the time then you have more chance of having good control over it so this hasn’t been trimmed yet so it’s better to let a tree grow vigorously till it gets a lot of shoots like this and then trim it if you don’t have a lot of shoots then you won’t have much material to trim see these straight shoots they’re obviously what we call rogue shoots they’ve all gone in the last three four weeks and they’ve not been watched so they don’t have much character so it’s only when you wire it into these curly shapes that the branches have a lot of interest and character okay this may just seem to be like very random pruning but i’m keeping an eye on it you see that conical shape is always there the basic principles of pruning are the same whether you use tropical trees or you know tempered climate trees showing the branches showing the tears and levels between the branches so it’s done well this is what we call the back even this is very interesting i know that these are commercial trees and planted in these pots i’m going to change the pots when i finish them all i will change all the pots and you see where they’ve cut like the previous one i showed you look at that big branch it must have been a thick branch there that’s cut off that was another branch cut off and he’s obviously cut these thick branches off to make the tree sweep this way and this must have been a branch coming down and then where it touched the ground it started getting thick so this was this was all one branch from this part of the tree and it’s touched the ground and it’s become thick i think these would have been probably grown in big pots and then the roots cut to fit into these smaller sized pots so that is how i’ve done that tree didn’t take long if you know what you’re doing so we finished that one let’s go to another one now this one again is different every tree is different every tree is different that’s why it’s so interesting now this tree again is like multiple trunks and the same principle it’s one trunk originally sweeping back on itself and then they’ve taken that trunk down and it’s fused with the base and it’s gone further to that side so this grower loves this style of growing and the thick branch which was going there they’re obviously cut off you can see the cut so that it doesn’t grow tall but it’s forced it to go shallow and flat okay so let’s analyze this tree so just to show you if you don’t take the wire off in time i will show you what’s happened here see this wire has been left on so the branch has swallowed that wire i won’t try and take it off i’ll just cut it off because if i try and take it off i may ruin the bark and may ruin that part so i’ll just cut it off no matter it’ll continue to grow and if it is embedded too much i might leave it i’ll just see if i can get some of it off if i can get it off i will sometimes if it’s embedded don’t worry too much the tree won’t suffer and even if it leaves bare what you call a bark it will soon grow over i think we’ve saved it in time there you go but the rest of it seems to be embedded now this tree has more visible conical shape so there’s not much to be done to this so again the first thing i do is to decide which is a better side this side or that side the choice is yours purely personal preference there is always a side that looks better and you can tell which would have been the front or the intended front and reach the back so at a quick glance if you look at it from this side and look at it from this side i think you can more or less tell that this is the intended front okay so let’s work with it from this side and lots of area roots so the area roots are the feature of this variety of ficus so let us diy some of the branches because by d wiring you can then see what the grower intended the design to be as i say there is no right or no wrong way see he’s just hooked into that big trunk and then why that branch out now to my mind that branch is not really needed in the design it’s hiding in a lovely trunk so let’s get rid of it make a nice cutting from that why why hydrate well there’s only tried that all that beauty hidden same with this rather than cut it off completely i’ll just remove the bulk of it i removed 70 percent of it okay so this one has been wired to link to the transfer rather than remove it completely i’m going to remove part of it like that still see the trunk i think that’s just hooked onto the main trunk he doesn’t use two branch principle won’t matter see these are these long shoots i like to call them rogue shoots you see how strong and thick they are coming straight out obviously not part of the design don’t need it take it out again another shoot now if i wanted to make this into something which is part of the design i would just wire this outward that way so that is another possibility make the conical shape more obvious i could do that so i could leave it but i won’t it’s just showing you the principle maybe i still think this is a better size now this didn’t require a lot of training i think we can use this i’m going to put them in different pots so you see the finished article in the new ports there you are look at that very dramatic line so the trunk line really is starting from here going there kicking back on itself then dropping down and going there see this makes a nice pad but again this could be regarded as redundant but i’ll leave it for now uh i’ve got to remove some of the wires there’s some wires which are going to get absorbed so that is another one done so as i always say every tree is different now this tree is very very different so how is it different although the basic style is the same you know that sweeping curve coming this way so let’s see what can be done now this one let’s see if you can analyze the tree and tell me which you regard as the front and which you regard as the back i see they’ve used a lot of plastic string to tie different branches together i don’t know what the purpose was but you need to get it out because if you leave them they can mark the tree they sometimes are worse than the wires so they see like that is it’s created that very bad groove there see something plastic string can damage the look of it so you spoil the look of that root so it just shows how fast these trees go pull it off but it’s embedded in there okay so let’s look at the tree from every side from this side and then from this side so the same principle you know they’ve made a sweeping branch so as before you see every tree has been done in the same way there was a thick bronze going on there they chopped that thick branch which we have gone straight and encouraged the side branch to grow so a tall tree cut and the side branch encouraged to grow to this to give that sweeping look to the tree now let’s see if i can make this tree different now because all the others are very similar let me see if i can make this like a semi cascade tree because it may lend itself to doing that so let me chop it up so if i planted it this angle that’ll make it look more interesting how about that if i planted it like that see that makes it quite different [Music] so i’m going to put it in like a semi-cascade pot and make the tree grow in this fashion so let me pop it up and i’m going to work with this as the design so this is going to be the design of this tree i’m doing it just to be different i don’t like to usually do things like that but maybe i don’t want all these things to be the same because they will say that i only know one song it’s not that i know many different songs let’s sing another song so that is it crying out to become a semi-cascade tree there you go but as i’ve always said when you grow cascade trees and semi-cascade trees it’s very hard to keep the cascading portion healthy because the habit of most trees is to shoot upwards and when you try to encourage the lower portion to be strong it is almost i would say impossible almost impossible because it’s going against the nature of the tree all trees tend to go upwards between we try to make it grow downwards this spot always gets weak same goes with our fines and junipers a very famous pine of mine on the cover of bonsai master class over a period of time it has become so weak that i have had to remove it completely because it was no longer viable the cascading part all the branches keep going upwards okay that’s before i go too far let’s change it because i want to now create the pads going this way because i’ve changed the angle of planting so we’ve got to make these watches go this way so let’s put some wires on and see if we can change it and i’ll see that i’ve saved all this wire if i’ve saved this wire i might as well use it again practice what i preach they’re not from where every bit of wire i use again so with this piece of wire let me are these two branches true branch principle as always this just shows that even with tropical trees very people who grow these tropical trees think that they can get away with shaping the trees without water i think it is difficult it’s possible but very difficult why makes everything so easy this becomes a positive horizontal branch so it’s going to grow this way let me see what i’ve done just a flat plain like that this one also i would have to do something to that so let me change this one this by the way is three and a half millimeter wide so i’m still wiring anti-clockwise now that i’ve been talking about the direction of wiring think about it when you next wire just see which way you’re worrying i have this theory is that the right-handed people prefer to do it one way and the left-handed people doing another logo that means we do it anticlockwise okay that was the right grade i’m going to make another flat here so i’m changing the design of the original tree because i’ve changed the angle of the tree so now this little shoot i’m not going to cut off because i can train it this way to form another pad in this direction so when it goes a bit stronger i will probably wire that one now do i need this or not so you see this is hiding that beautiful trunk there so let me cut it it’s hard to rewire it i think i can make it go this way this 100 wire just to grow this i know you will just turn on and say to me easier said than done but how do we know how much to cut go with what feels right you see this is still a bit congested i need to thinned out see now these areas are going that way i think we may need to take it out and put it in the pot vertical so we will deal with that when we come to repotting the tree even bonsai scissors are very short now that one i would call it a rope shoot if the original design was that way i would have cut it off but because i want the car i’m going to let that grow because i could wire it at a later stage see i’ve already got that beautiful crown there i reckon this is the most satisfying tree i’ve created today so wait till we pot it up and you will see what the tree looks like in the end okay so that’s where we go now we’re going to choose these parts these are cascade or semi cascade pots i brought that one out it’s the right shape but it’s much too big so it would look lost and if i tried the next size down the next size down is this one no way will it fit that that’s much too small so although i’ve got thousands and thousands of pots on our nursery you’ll be surprised that it’s always difficult to find the exact pot that fits a particular tree now this one probably more hopeful so this one i think would do so i will put this one up now with ficuses i think i can risk it because i can provide some heating in the greenhouse and make sure it comes through so i will put this up i’m not going to show the repotting of the other trees because they’re pretty straightforward but this one being so different i thought i’d show you this one the others are just putting it in another pot so just to encourage these roots to grow better i’m going to put sphagnum boss around it just to encourage more rapid formation of roots so it’s like a big air layering and when the roots are grown i will remove the moss and then put soil around it let’s put it back on the bench and let’s have a look at the tree so this one is radically different i think that is good pot i like it flaring out because it lifts the tree you know that fluted you know output curving shape of the pot gives it a different feeling gives it a lighter feeling so i hope you’ve enjoyed all these different ficuses that i’ve done they’re all different and look at all these cuttings i’m going to have a busy evening and night making cuttings right into the night there you go spent the morning you won’t believe i did five of these and this is what he bought this is what he bought it yesterday so there are six and all this i did literally in about half an hour this cascade one which was on the last video this was not shown but this was done by uh tebow and you can see how we’ve changed it by putting it in these nice pots they look completely different trees look at them we will now put it on the turntable one at a time if i get someone strong david is going to put them all one at a time and we’re going to take pictures of them so oh he did the reporting very good one of our new stuff come this way jack and have a look i can tell you so we have a choice this is the preferred front this is the one i said we need to develop more of a crown there but look at the beauty of the trunk on that one and lovely repotting lovely very nicely done so then the next one [Music] i can’t get over how these trees have been transformed look at that look at that this one looks nice from both sides very nice choice of pot we’ve used a oval pot deepish pot nice aerial routes as i said i don’t like too many aerial routes because if they’re too many aerial routes they look very confusing uh and in fact they don’t look very nice but look at it again this is a tree that looks nice from either side this side or this side so you don’t always have to have one front okay then the next one this is massive look at it again in an oval pot we’ve left quite a few area roots this is my preferred front but again if you like it from this side this is also nice so these would make beautiful bonsai in an office in fact if you have several how impressive would that be i must say the character of all of them are different again quite a few area roots so we cut off two branches from there beautiful character full trunk i like this branch jutting out again this side is not bad you know both sides are nice both sides are nice but the point is we’ve transformed it no end okay [Music] you

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