Michael's Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa) was started from seed in 1983, the same year that Michael joined Fuku-Bonsai. It's been the subject of several classes as we trained our staff and reports are posted at www.fukubonsai.com/1a6a2.html and www.fukubonsai.com/1a6a3.html with the latest report in the April 2013 Journal.
A main topic as to introduce Michael who is the president of the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation. That article also included a new support technique that has proven very effective in developing extended exposed roots, even on a large scale as with this tree.
The ropes and most of the support structure was removed and the tree tied to the remaining post which held the tree steadily in place. About 8" of the top of the plastic protected cardboard was cut away and the loose potting media removed.
The tree seemed to be doing very well in the 9 months so another 6" of root protection was removed.
This is a large bonsai and it's been dramatically reduced several times to create that distinctive large trunk with angular turns and taper. Most of the time, it was allowed to grow vigorously followed sometimes by pruning more often to control growth and produce more choices of branches. The tree had been allowed to over-grow and new leaves enlarged to about 6" long. When the strong growth was removed, most of the leaves were about 2". With the main styling nearing completion, it will likely be pruned more often from now as we begin refinement training.
This is one of our largest bonsai grown from seed since 1983 (31 years). We're learning that exposed extended root bonsai are easier to develop strong roots if they are initially suspended from a support so that the roots stay in place and can get firmly established. This method is preferable to gradually taking the plant higher each time it's repotted.