San Francisco Ficus, c 1900

San Francisco Ficus, c 1900

A beautiful San Francisco ficus planted between 1890 and 1910.

Around 2006 we received a visit to our studio from a gentleman from Ohio asking if we would give our assessment of a home he was purchasing in an Oceanfront neighborhood in Virginia Beach called Croatan. 

We met the Realtor there and a GC and a structural engineer and found the home to be not just offensive to the eye but shockingly structurally unsound.   

I gave him a call and explained our opinion of the property.  He was very grateful for our time and asked us to send him an invoice. We explained that we were not qualified to provide home inspections. All we could do was offer our personal assessment; therefore, we could not invoice him for our time.

While he was in our studio he commented on the trees we had growing there.  We told him we felt commercial and residential environments, nearly universally, benefitted from live plants.

Little did we know he was a serious collector of bonsai trees.  Serious collector means he had scores of specimens that were hundreds of years old.  

One day an old pickup truck pulled into our parking lot. The gentleman from Ohio got out of the truck and came into the studio and announced he had a gift for us. By the way, he wanted to know if we had a cart on casters.  

A cart with casters we had!  

So out he went and came in the door with the one tropical bonsai specimen he owned, a San Francisco ficus planted between 1890 and 1910. How did he know how old it was? I can’t begin to answer this question.    

We were dumbfounded by the presence of this spectacular specimen. He knew we would love her and care for her until she outlived us and that we would make arrangements to pass her along to another worthy soul. An amazing gift with an amazing responsibility to go with it.

We told him we would have no idea how to care for her. He said it’s simple: water her on Sunday and Thursday. Every two years find a local bonsai lover to assist with repotting, pruning, etc. and keep her in bright, filtered light. And he set off in his old pickup truck.

After a good deal of searching we found our local bonsai lover: Jay Prock. Jay is a lovely young man of great intelligence, strength, humanity, and he loves bonsai. He and his lovely wife, Christina, take the girl off to “summer camp” every spring and give her the care she deserves.

This year she required a serious defoliating, pruning, repotting and some shaping.

Please see Jay’s video of the bonsai before and during the defoliation. In early autumn Jay will report back, with photos of the tree’s progress.

Found Objects Ltd.