Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Post 168 Ficus Fusion Project

I've been working towards a few modest ficus fusion projects for the coming growing season. Late last year I potted on a number of cuttings I'd taken and wired for initial shape with a view to later fusion. But these were fairly modest in size aiming for a wide trunked shohin.

At the Gold Coast exhibition there was a Queensland Small Leaf Fig which has inspired me to set the goal a little higher; actually both taller and wider. The tree in the exhibition would have been about 800mm high and had a trunk on it that looked like the sort of thing you get with a strangler fig after the supporting tree has died and rotted away in the rain forest. I’m inclined to think that it has actually come about by a little careful cutting and carving but the result is very impressive. The ‘windows’ in the trunk give a view through to the hollow trunk or right through to the space beyond. Either that or its a fusion of a number af advanced trees.

Last Season I let one of my QSLFs run and it has produced about 10 leaders all about 300 to 400mm long, perfect for a fusion project. A couple of days ago I pruned these all off and set them as cuttings. With the weather warming up they should strike well in a plastic bag in dappled light. 

This is a sketch of the project I have in mind. The idea is to shape the material into a lattice patterns and graft together at the intersecting points.
With that in mind building this one is going to be a whole lot easier with a framework to attach the individual plants to. A wire framework will be relatively easy to remove in the future by cutting it out bit by bit through the lattice spaces.

I had some plastic coated wire mesh available so coiled some up into a conical shape and then proceeded to just massage it into the shape I wanted, about 200 across the base and about 350 high. That should give me a final tree height .around 450mm, with a 250mm diameter base and perfect taper. 

 Here are some pictures from all sides of the framework. All I need now is for my cuttings to strike and I’m away. 




My experience from the past when starting trees to a formula is to start with 6 and end up with 3 really good ones. I’m not sure I have the energy for that this time so it better be good first time.

 Finally a photoshopped vision of the end result, just 5 years away I'd say...............

Monday, 25 August 2014

Post 167 BCI 2014 Convention at the Gold Coast

The convention ran over three days at a big hotel in Surfer's Paradise with Australian, Indian, Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese demonstrators.
The exhibition of trees, some 70 to 75 in number, were mostly from South East Queensland and there were some very impressive trees amongst them. There were a couple of notable exceptions from Canberra.

This group of corky bark chinese elms was styled by Shinichi Nakajima.

 This was the marble slab penjing by Zhao Qingquan

 And here he is in full flight.

I'm sure with these interpreter interfaced presentations there are a few things lost in translation but the process worked pretty well. I came away with a feeling that these things are a little more entertainment than learning opportunities. Seeing one more juniper styled from raw material is not going to advance my skills. All you can really hope for is the odd gem, reinforced enthusiasm and the pleasure of a shared interest with hundreds of other folks for a few days solid.

These two shots are of the exhibition area. The part close to the big southern windows was full of daylight and white space while the other part was not quite as bright. It was a well mounted display with lots of work done to make custom tables and backings.
Putting these things on is a huge task and there would be hundreds of minor and major details that all need to be pulled together at the right time. The reality is that it takes years of lead time and countless pre-commitments and agreements in the planning. A smoothly flowing convention is testament to the time put in well before the doors opened. Congratulations to the organisers and the many volunteers who spared no effort.

On a personal level I had a pretty good conference. I had two trees in the exhibition as well as 4 pots and 4 stands. I came home with one of three awarded BCI Excellence Awards for my Lilly Pilly, which has now gone to the National Collection in Canberra for a year. And not only that: There were daily raffles of donated prizes and on the last day I won a viewing stone, which was donated by Budi Sulistyo from Indonesia. Might have had something to do with the 20 entry tickets I put in that box. This is my very first stone but will it be the last, hmmmmmm? I'm not yet a 'stone man' and I can guarantee my wife is even further away from conversion. Half a dozen pot sales and a booking for a pot making demonstration rounded out the weekend.

Here are some pictures of  a few trees in the exhibition:

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Post 166 Celtis yamadori

The whole growing season has gone by and my celtis yamadori stumps are about to leap out of their blocks for their second season.
I collected these guys in July 2013 and put some of them in the ground to grow and others in poly boxes. During the season I let them grow and then pruned them back to short stubs and allowed them to run again.
With spring just around the corner and some of them starting to produce new shoots it looked time to set them up again with a root and branch prune. I found the ones that were in the ground not too much different in growth from the ones in the poly boxes, but it was much harder to get down there and look at them for early styling.
I have left two in the ground that don't look too prospective and now have all the others in larger containers and boxes above ground for the next season.

They had all produced plenty of roots and filled their containers but not as many as I would have liked in close to the trunk, so I've further reduced the large roots I'd previously retained and repotted them. At some time soon I'll probably evaluate a new soil line and do a drilled hole and toothpick layering to get surface roots where I want them.

 This was the one that had previously been chopped in situ and produced a mass of very strong leaders. I've now got multiple branches developing from these and started to get a fan like flaring happening. It looks like it will be a great fused forest in the future.

As you see for the others I'm not interested yet in refinement just focused on getting taper and movement on the new leaders, so I will maintain the grow and cut for quite a few more cycles to come. As soon as they shoot the first priority will be to select which shoots to keep and then point them in the right direction. I would like to stick to the bi-furcation strategy and select only two new branches/leaders for each of those already in place. With them all in boxes now it will also be easier in the coming season to start with a little carving to shape the original chops before the sealing goes too much further. Once there are some new roots to get them stabilised that will be the time. I can see some promise in some of these and am looking forward to the coming season to make something more of them.
I've just removed 8 decent lilly pilly stumps from the garden and have them in boxes recovering. Not many roots between them but the new shoots are still standing up. If they survive I'll have another interesting project coming up.