2017 January Fig Demonstration & Discussion

Our first meeting for 2017 was a typical Melbourne hot and humid night. But it was wonderful to come together again to renew friendships and to focus on bonsai. Many BSV Members enjoyed the welcoming and happy atmosphere.

We were provided with an excellent demonstration from Steve and an informative presentation from Tom about growing the many varieties of figs.

Fig Group before repotting.
Fig Group before repotting.
Fig Group before repotting.
Fig Group before repotting.

For Steve’s demonstration, he had a group of fig trees originally created in about 1988 by Arthur R.  The trees are believed to be Port Jackson figs but there was some conjecture about this.  Tom believes one of the trees was a Ficus watkinsinia because of the rough bark. One of the trees in the group was quite loose suggesting a root issue which was confirmed after the tree was removed.  It only had one tap root so was removed from the group. Steve checked the state of roots of all trees. No pests were found in the soil but there was concern that drainage was poor; perhaps due to too many fine particles in the soil.  Steve has now used a more open and coarse soil mix to improve drainage and encourage better root development. The group had been defoliated about a month ago and with some root pruning will improve its vigour and health.

After Group rearrangement and some small future options.
After Group rearrangement and some small future options.
Steve with new grouping.
Steve with new grouping.

Steve repositioned the group trees, reviewed with Members at the meeting and repotted the group in the same pot.  A couple of additional small trees are being considered to enhance the grouping.  See the photo of the revised grouping.

Tom provided notes on the wide range of fig varieties and their distinguishing features.  He had an extensive range of varieties on display to demonstrate the differences.  Some figs are not native to Australia.  Tom also talked extensively about the best way to grow and develop fig bonsai.  Some guidance from Tom is included below.

Discussion on many fig varieties.
Discussion on many fig varieties.
Tom with one of his favourite figs.
Tom with one of his favourite figs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why prune??  To shape a bonsai tree, to stop long branches, to shorten internodes, encourage back budding and to develop taper.

Defoliatation.  Tom uses this technique to reduce leaf size and improve ramification.  He prefers cutting off the leaves halfway between the leaf and the stem rather than pulling off the leaves to avoid damage to smaller stems.  Defoliate between November and before March.  If you have a very healthy tree, you may be able to defoliate up to three times in one season but probably not every year.  One or two defoliations a season would be a safer option to ensure the tree is not unduly stressed.  Water on the cut sections is not considered necessary but make sure you do not get the sap in your eyes.

Repotting – Tom advises to ensure there is at least 6 weeks growing period after repotting and pruning.  In Melbourne, generally repot between September and February.

Most figs are frost tender and dislike drafts – hot and cold. Generally, they need filtered light.  If indoors, lots of daylight but not direct sun light. Ficus benjamina in particular can survive in indirect light.

For watering, they don’t like wet feet so use a very open mix. Tom uses a mixture of diatomite and sifted pine bark such as orchiata.

For fertilizing he soaks cow manure in a huge barrel and then dilutes the solution. You can use a combination of osmocote, powerfeed , Seasol, Charlie Carp, etc.

Continue reading 2017 January Fig Demonstration & Discussion

2017 BSV January Saturday Workshop

The first workshop for 2017 was a great place to be! What a great start to the year! There were 38 club members in attendance all keen and determined to work on their trees in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

BSV has members ranging in age from 6 years to the venerable Max at 89 years young.

Advice for beginners.
Advice for beginners.

Everyone worked on their trees resolving challenges, developing new skills, considering and adapting advice about styling as required. At the end of the workshop it was a delight to see the journey each person had taken to improve the material they had brought in.

We had many wonderful people to assist:

Max assisted with wiring tuition, demonstrating trimming, styling and giving wonderful advice to our most recent members.

Rudi and Marlene expertly assisted members by teaching them how to maintain, style and develop their azaleas.

Steve, Howard and Quentin utilized their skills and talents to assist our members with the skills and vision to develop a wonderful tree.

Wonderful Ray, what a club member, fed us with his famous party pies and sausage rolls and that fact that not a crumb was left, is testament of our appreciation of his consideration of us all.

Reducing an Azalea to two shoots at each junction.
Reducing an Azalea to two shoots at each junction.

The array of material brought in was eclectic. I spotted a protea; a wizened old Chinese elm that was reduced to a small and gorgeous tree; a forest group getting a major defoliation and wiring; a pine undergoing its first styling; azaleas transformed and readied for repotting. Memorable for me were the two bonsai brought in by our younger members.  They started these trees at a Yarra Ranges Bonsai Club children’s workshop 2-3 years ago. Imagine these trees in 10 -20 years’ time!!

Chinese Elm being adjusted.
Chinese Elm being adjusted.
Major reductions for a Chinese Elm.
Major reductions for a Chinese Elm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I look forward to seeing you at the next workshop on Saturday, 11th February

Victor Byrdy

President BSV

Wiring a Juniper.
Wiring a Juniper.
Plenty of attention and treatment for a Pine.
Plenty of attention and treatment for a Pine.

BSV – First Saturday Workshop for 2017

Dear All BSV Members
You are invited to the first Saturday Workshop for 2017 on Saturday 14 January commencing at 12-30pm at the East Kew Uniting Church, 142 Normanby Road, East Kew Melway ref. 45 J 3. See details below.   I look forward to seeing you there.
Warm regards
Victor Byrdy
President
170114-newsletter