By Ryan Chang (Waipahu, Oahu, Hawaii) Journal contributing editor


              Time once stood still in my world.  The ashes of the aftermath of life was smeared across my face.  The wind offering hope and peace with each sunrise and sunset; the winds are your best bet.    Carrying the scent of memories: the good, the old, and inspiration for what's to come  ---  let the gentle breeze bend you and form.  You will learn to grow strong with the wind.  You will grow strong limb by limb.


              Over this past year and a half; Iíve learned a lot and my confidence is stronger than ever.  I suppose it's due to Davidís superior planning and ability to execute his strategy according to each personís interest and skill level.  From the start, he explained to me many basics as they all pertained to the health of the tree. The strength of the Dwarf Schefflera was the very best for training in multiple styles.  The two stages are "growing-on" and "finishing" (refinement), and just recently Iíve been able to gain access to other species. 


              Taking what Iíve learned this past year, I have been able to apply it to other species as well.  This is a story of the Chinese Box Orange  (Severinia buxifolia)  ---  ď A Scent In The WindĒ.  The lead photo shows what's necessary; bonsai wire to style the foliage, paper wire t hold down the tree, small shears and of course the media which is not shown. 



          After wiring the branches.  Iím still learning and will get better with practice.  The branches were stiffer than I imagined and when not careful, I ended up breaking a few.  I spent most of the day playing with the direction of the foliage and how it would be potted. Once I was set; I went for it. 


         The windswept styles have been my new goal lately, and I kept imagining this as my ultimate windswept tree and it would be my basis from which I will learn from.  The bottom branch will be the longest as the wind will keep the top growth the shortest.  The trunk tilted almost  horizontal as the wind never allowed the growth to move directly upwards. 

                In Hawaii, there are hurricanes to be aware of, and history has shown that it can tear through an island leaving devastating effects.  Winds gusts over 90mph and strong enough to up root small trees.  The scene for this tree shows a dramatic gust of wind that forces the tree in one direction and looks like its roots are the only thing holding it down.

               Using the 8" diameter x 2" deep Fuku Bonsai plastic pot, I threaded the holes via the X- wire format with paper covered bindwire.  I also used U-shaped bonsai wire to hold down the tree as well to give it extra stability.  To begin, I created a hill with course media to cover the drainage holes, and covered the hill with body media adding nutrient granules in between until the hill rose just above the lip of the pot.  Avoid the media in a flattish manner and try for a hill. Besides assured drainage, this allows you to maximize stability when tying the tree to the pot.



          The tree is tied down and enough media was added to cover the roots.  I tried to keep the base close to one side so all the foliage could bend over the middle and it is favoring the right side of the pot. 


           The branches are positioned to allow further growth.  The visual effect of the the wind capsizing this tree is apparent.  Also the treeís immense strength and profound rooting system shows amazing resilience against the wind. 




       The picture to the right was taken about a week later after some of the leaves dried up, and I cut them off and added the aluminum collar which covers the 3" to 4" on the bottom to help thicken the trunk and strengthen the base.  I used strong monofilament tape to help keep everything in place.  I made air holes in the collar to allow air to rush in and generate root growth. 


        I currently have this tree in 80% shade and the sun touches the roots as I try to keep the foliage in the shade until I see new growth.  I already see new flowers blooming, so hopefully that's a good sign. 





            This tree is known as Severinia buxifolia or Atlantica buxifolia and is a member of the citrus family with small leaves about 1" long.  It   has small thorns and is very slow growing.  Haruo "Papa" Kaneshiro grew it and my original trees were from seeds off his tree.  Somehow a second form appeared with thinner leaves and lankier growth pattern.  Nice attractive trunks and branches are very hard to develop.  Training "top growth" is primarily by "building" or nipping the new growth to force branching.

            Branches tend to grow straight up off the top of each branch. Left alone,  this will become tall, skinny trees with few mostly upright branches. Start training early by pinching the apical growth and forcing branches as low as possible. To create a wider tier branch, it's necessary to wire secondary branches left and right, and as new branches form and grow up, wire them left and right.  As a complex structure forms creative pruning will develop a more interesting branch and crown. 

           BUT LOOK AT THOSE ROOTS!  I recall that Papa Kaneshiro's Chinese Box Orange was one of his least attractive bonsai.  But it was sitting on top of a massive complex tight mound of roots that kept rising and pushing out of the pot!  I happily accepted seeds that I brought with me to the Big Island in 1973 when Fuku-Bonsai became the first Hawaii State Certified Export Nursery.  Because it grew so slow, it was never considered as a commercial crop. 

           Over the years,  I've learned that plants of the citrus family develop interesting roots that create elegant designs when exposed.  Chinese Box Orange is the most attractive although Dwarf Kumquat is interesting too.  For over forty years, I've enjoyed trying to create exciting exposed roots.  Maybe because Ryan is Chinese,  he naturally leans towards the spirit of penjing.  His plant is a smaller younger tree (at only about 20 years old) that has one of the more attractive exposed root systems. I passed it on to Ryan without final training because I wanted his spirit to guide his tree and my intention was not to overly influence him. 

           I cautioned Ryan,  that this tree does not like branches in a downward cascading position as growth will dramatically weaken. I advised him to pull the base of the tree in the opposite direction to position that long cascading branch to almost horizontal to still stay with his windswept concept. He took my advice and revised as follows:




              David shared with me his version of penjing and stressed that I need to know basic principles.  To style a tree that you have never previously seen as bonsai, you must understand its growing habits and unique traits.  I went off the grid with an extreme style with the trunk out of the pot and the foliage that wouldnít grow. So I repotted and restyled.  I stayed with the extreme look and did minor adjustments.  I added more bonsai wire to secure the bottom while repositioned the tree.  I removed most of the branch wires and rearranged to give the foliage a 30-60-90 triangle.  Iíll allow the longest lowest branch to curl back into the center. 


              I also lifted and tilted the tree by adding a few bigger pieces of lava rock so that the roots would grow  around them.  If you notice, the center of the trunk is made up of roots and there is a constant openness that travels downward, so its important that over the years as I showcase more of the lower trunk that I develop strong growing roots.  Over a long term I may also remove media to create openness at the top and extend that openness all the way down to the pot.  You can also see the bonsai aluminum wire used to secure the tree to the pot. 


              David advised the use of a thick hidden wire to help support the trunk until roots thicken enough.  Although I didnít think it needed it, I listened and added one.  The thick wire runs directly through the middle of the root-trunk and into the pot.  I tried to keep it close to the middle for support and it only goes up as high as the middle of the trunk. 




            I made one more small but important adjustment and positioned the longer branch facing out and up instead of turning down. In another view, you can see the long branch now points out and upwards.  The other branches are allowed to grow naturally.  You canít see it, but there are tiny white buds forming and those will bloom into little white flowers. 



            CONCLUSION.    I really think it feels a lot more balanced now.  I want this tree to grow healthy.  I now only have the longest lowest branch wired to get it started on a semi cascade.  Whenever I worked on the tree, I kept smelling orange citrus and immediately noticed it was coming from the tree.  I was surprised at how strong the scent was.  And as the wind blew, the orange citrus aroma filled the air, hence this tree is known as ďA Scent In The WindĒ.


            The foliage is in the shape of a heart.  This is the second tree that worked out that way.  The first tree was the Roller Coaster -  Waterfall Tree.  I think my trees love me just as much as I love them.  Iím eager to see how this tree will bounce back.  Thank you to David for allowing me to have this in my private collection. 


       - - - Ryan  (ryan_a_chang@msn.com)


         "As I get older, I realize that the thing I value the most is good-heartedness."    - Alice Walker




             As most older Fuku-Bonsai customers know,  I am humbled and appreciative that Fuku-Bonsai is nearing the end of a 25-year long battle for survival that began in 1989 when we sprayed defective Benlate fungicide that was contaminated with weed killers which caused well over $30 million of losses.  The total net proceeds of our 1994 Benlate product liability and our 2007 DuPont fraud litigation settlements after taxes and legal fees was less than 10% of our losses.  None of DuPont's attorneys, officers, or witnesses who withheld or presented fraudulent information have ever gone to prison. DuPont's legal clout allowed them to escape paying for the damages they caused and their shameful fraud is a matter of court record.

             Life is not fair, but we survived with a huge amount of support from the bonsai and local community, friends, family, associates, stockholders, and everyone associated with Fuku-Bonsai. A large part of our losses was the need to develop all new crops as the residual contamination prevented growing our original Brassaia crops.  We had been growing Dwarf Schefflera since about 1974 but initially could only grow it in larger sizes.  It took us over 16 years of extensive trials to learn how to create character within 1" of the soil line which is necessary to produce highest quality in our most popular small and desk size lava plantings. This also is the key to creating the Introductory Workshop Package and highest quality larger rock plantings and potted bonsai.

             As we continued to recover, we began publishing the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai to share our knowledge and create a community.  It has become an exceptional way to assist our customers,  to correct cultural practices, and continue toward our goal of creating the most successful gift bonsai for anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants!  The Journal is one part of the post-Fukumoto succession plan as we position Fuku-Bonsai to serve future generations on a national scale.  In partnership with the 501(3)(c) Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation, we want to be the best source of information,  premium plants, and personalized assistance. 

             We are also designing the future Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center & Hawaii State Bonsai Repository and this includes narrowing down which bonsai will become a part of the permanent display collection.  We are quietly making available exceptional plants to our oldest customers and Fast-Track Study Group members and the tree in this article is one of them. Unless requested,  I like to allow the trees that will be going into other collections to over grow to allow the new owners the opportunity to modify the styling to best suit their preference. 

            Chinese Box Orange is a significant tree in the Fuku-Bonsai Collection and it played a significant role in my bonsai journey.  I started with Schefflera (Brassaia actinophylla) as a houseplant bonsai and expanded into temperated climate trees trained in the Japanese manner,  Chinese penjing, to Tropical outdoor bonsai (especially ficus banyan bonsai), until I committed to specialize in Dwarf Schefflera as the primary True Indoor Bonsaiô.

*** Return to the August 2014 issue of 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