(Introducing Ron Davis:   Ron is a good writer and photographer who has contributed several articles for the Fuku-Bonsai website linked from the Ron Davis Portal Page to the various articles.  From very early I urged Ron to write and submit articles and photos as it was a good way to better understand bonsai and help others. Each time he visited, he learned of our new projects and participated.  Ron ordered a quantity of Introductory Workshop Packages,  got a feature article, 25 sign-ups, conducted two workshop sessions, and followed up by forming the Bozeman Bonsai Society with an article published in the American Bonsai Society JournalI asked him to write an updated article on his first 1:10 Project Sumo which follows.  Ron has learned to produce strong vigorous growth.  I strongly recommend reviewing  www.fukubonsai.com/1a91c.html  that shows the start of this Sumo project and how much growth he achieves in one year!  ~~~David)


First report: July 17, 2011


By Ron Davis (Bozeman, Montana)


            I started the 1:10 Project in July 2011 with premium 2” stock from Fuku-Bonsai. The five plants were to be potted onto 7” saucers that were only 3/4” high. I wanted to see how each of the three styles pioneered by Fuku-Bonsai: Sumo, Roots, and Dragon would grow in these tiny pots. This article describes what I learned when designing and potting a plant in the Sumo style.

           I really didn’t know what I was doing. Trying to have a tree survive when there was no room for the roots? My initial thought was that the more media I could use the better the roots would grow. I used a foil and plastic collar to form a temporary pot on top of the 7” saucer. The circumference of this collar covered most of the plastic pot with only 3/4” of the base media being visible. The plant was set over a golf-ball size rock to spread the roots and create a classic Sumo base. The little plant responded with exuberant growth. Within a year it was pushing against the collar beneath a wild canopy of untrimmed branches.   

Photo 1: July 2012 showing 1 year's growth!

         David Fukumoto has been my favorite bonsai teacher and artist since 2006 when I got my first Dwarf Schefflera from him. I live in Montana so, due to vastly different climates, there were cultivation challenges from the beginning. But he did his best to coach me through email on how to care for those early plants and with this 1:10 Project. I sent him some photos of the Sumo. When he saw how big it had become in that large collar he wisely suggested that I start over with new proportions and techniques.

        Following this advice, I removed the old collar and replaced it with a much smaller one. David thought that was good but said I had to suck it up and do some drastic pruning too. This was the only way to maintain proper symmetry of the Sumo design. OMG!  Well, ok, follow the leader and see what happens. Toward the end of December 2012, I did what I thought were near murderous cuts to the plant.


(photo 2:  December 30, 2012)

        Again, I sent David pictures. He very diplomatically replied that those cuts were still not enough. He made some excellent remarks on my photos that showed me exactly where to prune next. He made the interesting suggestion that I trim off all leaves except for the tiny one at the top. This was a nice healthy plant so I went for it. You can see that there is already growth starting low on the trunk. Just what you want in a Sumo! The base at soil line is 31/2” wide. The top of the uppermost cut with the tiny leaf is 4” from the soil line.

Photo 3 January 7, 2013,  just one week after Photo 2.

          Photos 4, 5, and 6 were taken on March 3, 2013.


         The little Sumo is healthy and thriving. Some of the leaves were so large that David suggested I trim them off to redirect the energy. I have high hopes for this  particular plant. You may notice that it has four main trunks in two pairs of close fitting trunks.


         This is an odd design. David said that it could have been corrected by using two rocks to open up the two pairs when the plant was smaller.  Two fundamental lessons I learned with this bonsai is that you must have a clear idea of the design and its parameters, and you must boldly prune the branches before they become too large.


          I may have been the first mainlander to attempt this 1:10 Project in these very shallow pots. At that time there was not much written instructional material for guidance. David helped as much as he could from a distance but some concepts were difficult to grasp for me as a beginner.


        The staff at Fuku-Bonsai are recently developing excellent instruction sheets that will accompany the new 1:10 Premium Workshop Package. It will make the cultivation techniques and design principles readily understood so that anyone interested in these plants will be successful.



        COMMENTS BY DAVID:   It has been a joy to observe Ron who is a "Thinking Bonsai Man" who is very conservative by nature, who puts up a fuss,  then does things with such gusto that you're in awe when you see the results! This SUMO #1 was like that and I could not believe his first year growth!  I'm delighted that he now understands how to prune hard and tight and this SUMO is going to be an exciting bonsai!  I look forward to update reports on this and his other 1:10 Project plants!






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