2017 April Juniper Demonstration

Trevor McComb,  Bonsai Art Nursery, Heatherton
Despite the threatening rain, many Members met in East Kew to hear Trevor talk about junipers.  Trevor was not feeling well but did an admirable job sharing his knowledge of junipers and answering questions.  Some of the information shared by Trevor is included below.
Junipers are very popular trees worldwide with over 60 species.  There are no species indigenous to Australia.  Of these worldwide species, about 4 or 5 are commonly used for bonsai.  The Juniperus procumbens is good for bonsai but not as popular as it used to be.  It can be a bit prickly. The Juniperus chinensis ‘Shimpaku’ is very popular in Japan and it is not unusual for the majority of trees in Exhibitions to be this variety.  This variety does very well in Melbourne and grows most of the year unlike the short growing season in Europe and Japan.  They are drought resistant, can be grafted and suit most bonsai styles.  They are very flexible.
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Comments by Trevor are included below:
  • Shimpaku vs Sargents – Are they the same?  Internet sources suggest they are not the same but related.  Juniperus chinensis cv. sargentii var. shimpaku is the botanical name suggested by one site although it sounds like the experts are still debating the issue.
  • Phoma – a fungal disease can be an issue with some junipers.  Branch tips start to die.  It can move to other Junipers.  It can be treated by cutting it out and using a fungicide containing Copper Oxychloride.
  • Junipers don’t like oil based sprays so tread warily if you plan to use one of these to treat a problem.
  • Trevor feeds his junipers with slow release fertiliser in the potting mix and a variety of organic fertilisers to encourage micro-organisms.
  • Watering – let the surface dry out between waterings.
  • Shimpaku’s are very flexible and can be easily wired.  They are slow growing so wire can be left on for 4-5 months.  Shorter periods apply for other varieties.
  • Repotting Shimpaku is best done in early spring or the month after Easter but can be done throughout the year providing extreme conditions are avoided.
  • Shimpaku generally strike well.
  • Juniper squamata grows up to 5 times faster than Shimpaku but they are brittle and hard to strike.
  • Healthy shimpaku can be trimmed almost any time provided you avoid the extreme periods.  They shoot back very well.
On a more general note, Trevor encouraged aspiring bonsai artists to think about what they want in 5 years.  In particular, how can you ensure you can focus on developing the art in your better trees and avoiding the time required to manage small nurseries in your backyard.  Finding older material can get you there quicker.  Keep in mind that as trees get older, they can demand more of your time.
Trevor being thanked by Victor
Juniper wiring detail
Juniper wiring detail
Wiring a young juniper
Wiring a young juniper
Juniperus chinensis 'Shimpaku'
Juniperus chinensis ‘Shimpaku’


Continue reading 2017 April Juniper Demonstration

2017 March Styling Demonstration

Hahn Tran from Baloc Nursery was our demonstrator at the March club meeting.
His talk and demonstration focussed on his very expert skills
and techniques that he uses to bend very thick branches to
create wonderful bonsai. His final creations are, to me, redolent
of the yamadori that we are unable to access in Australia.

Before Hahn works on his trees, he stops watering a trees for a
week, as it is easier to manipulate branches and trunks when
they are dry. He prefers to do his heavy bending on very hot
days. He makes sure that the tree is firmly fixed in the pot and
not loose, as this will damage the roots.
Hahn spends a lot of time planning his tree design, exploring a
number of options until he settles on what he considers is the
final design. He then plans the stages of the transition to achieve
that design and throughout the whole process he will always
consider other or better options as they may arise. By doing this
he achieves a better tree design. The process of taking raw plant
stock to a finished product may take a number of years.
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He recommends working slowly never rushing as this is when
breakages occur and you lose sight of the final outcome. Before
bending a branch he manipulates it from the tip back to the
trunk. The manipulation is bending and twisting. This loosens
the fibres in the branch and prepares it for the bending that will
He starts by building the framework or structure of the
tree – the trunk and main branches. This foundation is important.
The refinement of the branches may take some time.
Hahn always ensures that he has a few options while working
especially if a branch breaks as then he will have a fall-back
position. The techniques he displayed using clamps, tourniquet,
guide wires and wiring was very skilled as he demonstrated
his incredible talent and skills.
Hahn has a number of demonstrations on you tube and all are worth watching.
The link is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/

Continue reading 2017 March Styling Demonstration

2017 April Saturday Workshop

On a warm autumn Saturday, BSV members gathered at the hall to start preparing their trees for winter; or was it to enjoy the hot cross buns on offer!  Lots of discussion and activity resulted in the transformation of many trees and better plans for the future of other trees.  Several examples of trees and their adjustments are included below.

Callistemon - recovering from an insect attack
Callistemon – recovering from an insect attack
Silver Birch
Silver Birch
Silver Birch after initial adjustments.
Silver Birch after initial adjustments.
Black Pine
Black Pine
Lilly Pilly
Lilly Pilly
Small Group Planting
Small Group Planting
Cedar after adjustment.
Cedar after adjustment.
Juniper after adjustment.
Juniper after adjustment.