Ficus Bonsai help shaping

NOVAbonsai

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Hi there,

I just joined and I am seeking advice on how to shape a ficus bonsai I just received. It has some branches coming towards me and going directly off the back which I think should maybe be shortened or removed (But one has an air root coming off of it so maybe not removed the whole thing?). The top was previously shaped to be what seems to be two bunches of leaves spread apart from eachtoehr but I wonder if a more natural look for a ficus would be to grow the top into a round canopy instead. Last but not least there is a lower branch kind of going out sideways which I think I should just get rid of all together. I will attach pics and then below I will attach some of my thoughts (red being the branch I want removed and green being where the air roots are or will be directed). Thanks for your help...Im fairly new to this so its appreciated.
 

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NOVAbonsai

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Here are the pics of what I am thinking...Hopefully it makes sense because its hard to get an idea through pics...Also it needs to be cut back a bit to be more clear.
 

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Forsoothe!

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You have a lot of what looks like nicely arranged branches, originally, then the designer abandoned ship. Keeping in mind that I'm looking at a bush. Two options might be to cut back to two leaves on all the unbranched twigs and get back to the original starting point, plus some. Or, take this opportunity to learn how to wire all those long twigs into clouds. Again, envisioning the original intent, plus some growing seasons. (If you're in Montana, a couple years, or Florida, a couple weeks)

Wiring into clouds starts with wiring everything into basically flat, horizontal planes arranged into one cloud per branch. The individual long, straight twigs wired to zig-zag with a leaf pointing out of the outside of the bend, and all arranged to nestle together as close as possible. You want all leaves to point sideways, -horizontally. Nothing pointing down, and no more than two buds pointing straight up. All new growth will grow up anyway, so you will build a cloud's thickness over time with clip & grow.
 

NOVAbonsai

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If I was to but back to the two leaves like your option A what would you try to shape the plant like when it grew back?

As for the clouds would you try for three different pads (lower, upper left, and upper right)?

Its hard to see but what about the branches that go straight at you from the front and the one that goes straight back off the back of the tree? they seem to fill in the middle with leaves but they also cover part of the trunk from being seen....Im sure if I cut them the new growth would eventually fill in.
 

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Omono
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It's hard for us elsewhere to "see" what is obvious to you because you can move your head around and focus from lots of 3-D views and we can't. You want to shape the front so the viewer can look into the tree. Firstly, the generalities: Picture the tree shaped sort of like a baseball glove extending towards you at a 45° angle where you can clearly see into the pocket. The movement of the trunk and nebari are the main features. The branches are all of a type, and share a source, and while they are distinctly left or center or right on the tree, they were all shaped by the same forces. You can't have the left-hand branches contorted by a westward wind and the right-hand branches contorted by an eastward wind, hence shorter branches to windward, and longer branches on the other side. You should be able to see the bottoms of main branches. No foliage grows on main branches close to the origin, especially the trunk. Ideally, you'd have a half dozen main branches arranged in a spiral staircase ascending the trunk with clouds on each that have spaces in-between most, but not all. Too much separation with too perfectly shaped clouds is called topiary and is to be avoided like the plague. Some clouds can merge with other clouds that are sweeping upwards or downwards. There should be no big gaps. The branches in back need be moved into positions that fill the gaps that are seen from the front. Since that may look stupid when viewed from the rear, put a stake or something dead center in front to keep reminding you to favor the view from the front, dead center, for every thing you do to the other parts of the tree.

That said, your tree looks like it was forced to grow to the left by damage or something in the way, and then wind-influenced for the canopy to grow to the right. Its arrangement in the pot indicates that and being canopy-heavy towards the right front. The lower right branch is too thin, but does fill a gap that prevents this tree from being Too Tall Jones. According to Peter Tea's Rule #3, if a branch needs to grow more, do not remove foliage, let it grow. Assume that a lot of the foliage may be greatly changed when the day comes where that branch gets big enough to be more in scale, but it's better to suffer a feature that is not trimmed to be at its best right now than to not be working to eventually get to that point. So arrange that cloud to be wide with the best exposure to light.

The foliage in the big main cluster on the right needs to be arranged in clouds in parallel to the branches they flow from. I can't see them , but it's safe to say you need to make space for the birdies to fly thru, and there are probably enough branches to point in every horizontal direction, too. Sneak up on it. Remove branches that can't be relocated to better angles or positions so that better branches can have space between them. Look at this design which is not a roadmap. It is to instruct you on how branches need to reflect the fact that they are on the same tree and are shaped by the same forces. Try to maintain some space so you can think about it a week or a month and make a plan to follow. If it takes time to feel comfortable with a plan, that's good. One step at a time.
269375
Keep us posted!
 

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NOVAbonsai

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Thanks very much for the description! I am trying to keep taking looks at different angles to decide what to do and how im going to get there. For now I am just letting it grow a bit wild but I want to have my game plan in for spring.
 

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