I still have all the trees I have created since that start seven years ago, they have become firm friends over the years and have given me a great deal of pleasure. They all get the same annual treatment of thinning the head and root pruning. Over the years the roots become exposed and give the added characteristic of ageing, treated carefully they can become a feature of the bonsai.When I first began my bonsai fuchsias, I had no thoughts of exhibiting, however, in 1998 I took a couple to the B.F.S. Midland Show where they had a Bonsai class. There were eight exhibits and my F. hemsleyana came third, I was delighted since first and second went to Roy Payne who is recognised as the fuchsia bonsai expert. There is now a fuchsia bonsai class at all the B.F.S. National Shows except Harrogate, (in 2000 there were 78 exhibits at 9 shows) and quite a few Affiliated Societies have included a class in their schedules. The B.F.S. Show Committee have gone to great lengths to come up with judging guidelines for fuchsia bonsai in the 2000 rulebook which I am sure will be great help to both exhibitors and judges alike.
Because it was at the time of the year when "all" fuchsias are defoliated (I did not know any better at the time) this too was done. Defoliating any Encliandra is a bit of a job bit when it is F. michhrophylla hemsleyana, you begin to wish you had never started.I was pleased with the result especially when you consider that the only difference from when it was very adjacent to a plastic bag was about ten minutes work (not counting the defoliating) with a pair of small snips and spending £3 on a glazed dish.The tree was successfully nurtured through the winter months, but as the head developed, the trunk now seemed to be out of proportion. I had read that planting outside in the open would help. It was removed from its pot and planted in the border until the end of October. The change was quite remarkable. The trunk had more than doubled its girth to over ½ " (1cm) diameter. I should mention that at the time of planting it outside I had twisted the trunk a little by using a piece of soft, thick copper wire which I felt improved the overall appearance.The plant was lifted carefully from the border, first I trimmed the branches, growing unattended in the garden the head had become unruly and was unrecognisable from my original shape. Next, the roots were pruned; this consisted of removing the vertical roots and, after trimming to fit the dish, retaining the horizontal ones. New compost (I use double the amount of grit than in my usual compost to ensure good drainage) was worked around the roots using a small dibber. After a few weeks of allowing the tree to become accustomed to its new environment I then tackled the "head", I achieved the shape by reference to photographs of mature trees. In addition to the branches removed to achieve the shape, I was able to remove a number of weaker branches allowing more light through the tree.Encouraged by the result I began to train another couple of trees, this time I used another Encliandra, a hybrid (Laura Cross) with bigger leaves and flowers than my first subject. Making use of soft copper wire, I copied a photograph I had taken in Northumberland of a lonely windswept hawthorn. For my other subject I used a failed 3 ½ " show plant of "Baby Bright" which I trained having in mind a willow overhanging a pond.
Small but Perfectly Formed by George Evans
A fuchsia bonsai is a special plant, but surprisingly does not require a lifetime of dedication to produce. Fuchsias "age" naturally, forming bark, heavy roots and twisted branches in a couple of years, or less, depending on the particular cultivar. What is required is a little patience to utilise these characteristics into a bonsai fuchsia. In 1994 I was having an "end of season" tidy up in the greenhouse; black plastic bag in one hand, old tired looking Encliandra in the other; when it occurred to me that what I was about to throw away was a miniature tree.I obtained a book from the local library and so took the first steps to creating my "miniature tree". First I pruned the tree to a shape that I perceived a mature deciduous tree to be, e.g. oak, chestnut, etc, the roots where pruned in accordance with the instructions and the plant fitted into a suitable glazed bonsai dish. By "suitable" I mean in proportion to the tree, the height of my tree was about 5"(12.5cm) and the spread of the "head" 6" (15cm), my interpretation of that was an oval dish about two thirds of the "head" when viewed from directly above.