Editor note:  Ryan's first three articles about the three trees above appeared in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai (www.fukubonsai.com/1a94a.html) and in the February 2013 Journal  issue www.fukubonsai.com/1a94b.html  and www.fukubonsai.com/1a94c.html.   He ended up with one sumo and two roots.  This article shows the progress in just a little over one year! The picture shows from left to right: Roots #1, Sumo, and Roots #2. The photo was taken January 21, 2013 and the three plants will be discussed in this report in the same order. The last photo in this article show the same trees about 13 to 14 months later. 
"Three trees in three days!"
By Ryan Chang, (Waipahu, Oahu, Hawaii) Journal contributing editor

           One year ago I was saying to myself, “I can’t wait to see what my IWPs look like in one year”.  Here we are and its time to re-pot and cut back hard for the first time.  I’ve been practicing my Sumo’s, so I’m really confident that will turn out well.  I’ve also been practicing my roots, but this is the first time that I will be exposing the top half of the roots.  I will also use one of the roots tree in a rock planting.  I will share what I found to be the difficult areas that need more attention.  The easy little things that pay off in the long run.  The overall goal of the trees may have changed for some, but the need to create the optimum growing condition for the tree’s health remains the top priority, for this will yield the maximum growth.

  ROOTS #1 (March 9, 2014)



          When I stumbled across pictures on the internet of bonsai trees, the ones that really got my attention were the spectacular trees with wild spreading roots in a controlled manner.  I wanted to immediately try this technique out, and I’m happy that the roots are nice sized.  In the jar is the fine dust media that is sifted through a window screen and will be used as a top layer.  The base of roots is 2”.  The widest part of the foliage is 14.5” and the height of the tree is 16” tall.  All 3 main branches are 1/2” at their base.  Using David’s advice, I cut back hard.  The apex will be cut 2x the diameter (with a vertical cut)  and the outside branches will be 3x their diameter (with a horizontal cut). 

         If you remember from my first article, this was originally my sumo which is why there is a rock growing under the the trunk and amongst the roots.  My goal is to bare root and remove it and use that open cavity as an open space in the body.  This tree never had an original theme.  Now, that it has extended its roots while leaving a nice space because of the small lava rock that was planting under its roots.  The roots did a great job of wrapping around the roots.  In this picture, you can see I removed the small lava rock and now it suggests “Shelter”. 


          I often remember the stories of great banyan trees that covered large areas that were used by many as shelter to survive in otherwise unbearable heat.  Another view of the massive root that measures just about .5”.  If you can imagine, it looks like legs and could suggest a walking theme.   Another view of the extended roots.  About 4” in length after pruning.  This view shows a nice angle of the cavity, and I can imagine camping out in there.



              The first picture shows my mistake.  Notice the right side branch. Its the longer branch and its hanging over the shorter side.  Again, I already knew I had to adjust it and position the longer branch over the larger area for balance.  I used course bottom to cover the drainage holes.  I then layered with body media and made sure to pat it down firmly.  This is one of those “little things” that will pay off down the road.  The firmed media will allow me to create a hill in the middle to all the tree to be placed and grown into.  I used a cut strip from an old nursery pot and created a triangle to assist with holding the firm hill in place.  I then used the foil collar to wrap around the lower section of the roots and made sure to have enough body media to support the roots growing into the pot and also to extend the roots.

              (Second photo) Using the paper covered bind wire, I tightly secured the tree to the pot through the 3 drainage holes.  I then used a funnel spoon to add granular sized body media to tightly pack the roots area and also the body media in the pot.  I then covered all and patted down the fine media for a finished look.  The third photo shows the corrected positioning of the longer branch is now over the larger area, and it does look more balanced.

             This view shows the tree has a nice bend and really looks like its bending in the wind.  Now, the question is: do I train the foliage to do the same? or try to expand it in all directions?  For now, I’ll train it in all directions, but that can easily be modified with a little wiring or pruning with a cut and grow method and point it in the desired direction.  The last photo shows the opposite view of the bend.  I still think it looks very attractive and the lean adds some action to the scene.  It gives a nice fun feeling when I look at it.


SUMO (March 10, 2014)


           I wanted to take my time with each planting, so I spread it out a planting a day.  3 Trees in 3 days.  The height of the tree is 16” and the width was 14”.  Almost identical to the the first tree.  The center photo shows that this tree had two large branches measuring 7/8” almost 1”.  The smallest branch measured 5/8”.  The base of the roots above the pot measures 2.5”. 


         The pot is prepped with the ground media and the plastic circle to allow better drainage and create the shallow root system that the sumo thrives upon with its large buttressing roots.  I created a hill and the plastic is popped up and shown.  Paper covered bind wire and aluminum are at the ready.  The tree literally pops right out of the pot and this is what it looks like after I removed the aluminum collar.  Not bad.  Now, the fun gets even more fun. 


          I moved rather quickly from this point on and didn’t really stop until I reached this point.  Another view of the cut back.  I also topped the media with the fines and patted down firm. Another view.  Note: the tie down method using the paper covered bind wire.  It's pulled down very tight.


         Taking an aluminum collar crumpled and stretched out.  I used an 18” long aluminum and folded in half.  I started from the inside of the pot and worked my way around and connected the ends.  I then was able to easily form the smaller tightened collar around the base of the roots above the pot.  Another view of the finished potting of the sumo.  I know this will turn out well.  I already did about 4 of these and they are all thriving very well.  In just one month, it will look like a small tree.  In 3 months, the branches will grow just a little longer, and depends if the new growth is too tight, I might have to defoliate the young undesirable new growth. 


          This lizard is cruising on a sumo planting that was done about a month ago to replace my sumo for the 1:10 project.  That is pretty good for 1 month growth.  It helps to block the winds.   I was able to get a photo of 2 lizards sleeping in the tree at night.  What I couldn’t fit in the frame were about 3 others around them in various trees. 


ROOTS #2 (March 11, 2014)


            For a few months, I’ve been thinking of doing a planting on this rock.  Then when David approved to use one of the IWPs on one of my rock builds that measured around 6” in height.  This one measure just below 6”.  The plan is to pot it up in the 12” shallow saucer pot.  If you can imagine in this picture, the tree sitting on a hill, then you’re on the same page as I am.  This is the setting.  An open cave like sculpted rock on a coastline someplace beautiful where the sun is setting and the skies are a mix of purple and blue.  The rock is placed where the tree will get the best position.  I patted down the body media and lightly covered with damp finely chopped sphagnum moss.  The paper covered bind wires are placed to help pull the tree down position it on the rock. 


           A close up: the height is 16” and its width is 14.5”, again almost identical to the others as far as height and width.  The largest branch is 1/2” at the base.  The others are all about 3/8”.   In the first planting, I mistakenly wrapped the roots in aluminum.  You can still see the roots are wrapped.  It was very easy to pull out of the pot.  The roots have good growth.   I bare rooted the tree and found amazing roots including two in particular that is hidden by the mass of smaller roots.  Note that the roots are growing very strongly with lots of white tips. This tree (growing in full tropical sun) is watered once a day unless its raining.  If it is showing signs of being kept too wet and damp,  it should be allowed to dry out. In my environment, once a day allows for that.  The next morning, most are dried out, while a few are still lightly damp.  If its too wet, I’ll skip watering that tree for the day.  This holds true especially for pruned tress or cuttings that are trying to root.  This was an awesome discovery for me.  The roots were as thick as the branches measuring 1/2” at its 2 largest middle roots.  Then there are a bunch of small to mild size roots that I didn’t want to massacre.  Instead, you can see, I wrapped them tightly with paper covered bind wire in hopes of binding them.  There is an obvious seat where I will be able to wrap the roots around the rock.  I also decided to prune and cut back at this point because it makes the tying down to the rock planting much easier and faster.  I have done it before and it seems to bounce back rather quickly and new growth will show within a week. 


           This scene is “The Hill Of Hope”.  You can see a hill/walkway leading up to a corridor set by the rock on one side and the tree on the other.  It's a  balance of rock and tree.  The pathway is intriguing. Standing at the bottom of the hill looking up,  between the rock and the tree lies "hope".  The granular sized media was fitted and patted down on top of the body media to help lock in and keep the fine dust media on the top to help the small hair roots grow in abundance.  In this case, I lined light patches of moss around the bottom of the roots.  Then I topped everything off with the fine material screened through a window screen. 

            I used an extra long aluminum collar around 30” so that I would be able to manipulate the collar around the high points.  This view is called “Along The Coast”.  Growing up, driving along the west coast of Oahu.  The mountains would have a bunch of wild bushes growing upon them.  I added screened river pebbles to add interest to the scene.  I think it looks good.  


         I decided to call this view “Cave Hunting”.  It reminds me of the days when my friends and I would go cave hunting.  We would explore areas we’ve never been or maybe heard about.  Walking along the mountains and up the hills, it was a blast. 

        This view shows the cave, and I would like to call it “Cave Of Dreams”.  I placed the sponges to create little trees in the corner of the cave.  The two thick roots were divided one on each side of the rock.  I was also careful to position it, and I had to move it around quite a few times, but notice the longer branches are situated above the larger areas to allow them to grow out.  I also made sure to allow the roots to have enough room on the other side.  (A day later Ryan send the photo below as he added gravel "landscaping to set off the area where he does not expect roots to grow.) 


                There was much to contribute to my plantings.  It was really trying to remember everything I’ve learned either by David or Jerry,  ---  maybe I’ve seen Jay do it,  or something that caught my attention and gave me ideas.  I really enjoyed taking my time and each day was a bonsai day for me.  I literally was so excited.  As soon as my shift ended I would go straight out and do the plantings --- each time taking my time and not settling for second best.  I tried to be creative with each one and create an optimum environment for maximum growth.  I also learned that trying to make the planting its best never stops.  The morning of my ROOTS #2 landscape planting, I didn’t even plan on having the decorative sponge like plants.  I just found them in the pot that I stored the river pebbles.  I soaked them in water and added them at the end and couldn’t be happier.    - - - Ryan  (ryan_a_chang@msn.com)

                 Rabindranath Tagore:   "Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/rabindrana153824.html#ikJriUMt7AWs3JZf.99



                 I continue to be impressed and delighted with Ryan's progress! Anyone comparing the first and last photos of this article would be amazed as I was!  RYAN PRODUCED A LARGER AMOUNT OF GROWTH THAN FUKU-BONSAI'S AVERAGE!  THAT'S A VERY SIGNIFICANT FACT! 

                To a large extent, in addition to having or creating the best possible growing environment, the net growth is really dependant upon the amount of attention that you can provide to each plant!  In Oahu where Ryan lives,  there are far less days when the skies are cloudy or its as rainy as Kurtistown. Ryan has developed the ability to "read" his plants and waters almost every day IF HIS TREES NEED IT!  With his superior growing environment (provided he does extra watering and fertilizing),  Ryan got better than our average growth with his one year's experience! 

                That's the power of giving the attention that the plant needs when it needs it.  With our larger number of plants and the tasks that needs to be done at a working bonsai nursery open to visitors with much of staff time giving workshops,  we give our trees only a tiny fraction of the attention that Ryan gives his.  As Ryan's skill level improves,  his ability to develop high quality bonsai will exceed ours and that's possible for any study group member who is willing to put in as much effort as Ryan does. 

                In addition to producing optimum growth, in the past year, Ryan has come a long way in learning a range of rock planting techniques and seems to have no problem growing trees in the shallow 1:10 Project saucers!  He is confident in cutting back hard to establish trees that will have impressive compact high-potential trees!  Ryan has begun to grow True Indoor Bonsai indoors to become more knowledgeable to be able to help those growing indoors throughout the year.  He still needs to learn acclimation so outdoor grown trees can seamlessly better adapt to indoors.  Ryan has achieved an impressive first year record! 

                Another significant article on Optimum Growth is at www.fukubonsai.com/4a18c.html.  I urge everyone who wants to train bonsai successfully to also set the goal of achieving optimum growth.  Not everyone will be able to match Ryan's growth rate, but many others including Jerry Meislik and Ron Davis (both of Montana)  have been very successful!  I am asking each of those who have done the Introductory Workshop Package to send me photos when completed and one year later.  The goal is to try to get a range of growth standards for different situations. 

                We already know that True Indoor Bonsai are the fastest developing of any tree trained as bonsai.  We believe that the growth rate accelerates after the trees are three years in training compared to the initial growth rate of young seedlings and rooted cuttings and this fact is a major reason for the success of Fuku-Bonsai's Introductory Workshop Package. 

               Carol Tingley's article at www.fukubonsai.com/1a63d.html seems to confirm our belief that the growth rate continues to increase when our premium prepared bonsai stock is in the older 3-5 year range.  This is becoming apparent when studying such premium stock that were used in the Journal rock planting articles in the past six months.  Their growth rate is significantly higher than the younger prepared stock used in the Introductory Workshop Package!   These factors are being incorporated into the specifications for the proposed Premium Introductory Workshop Package to be introduced in 2014!  Stay turned! 

              ~~~David (david.f@fukubonsai.com)

*** Return to the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai
*** Go to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
*** Go to the Fuku-Bonsai website
© Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014