The Bonsai Society of Victoria hosted its 2018 Annual Exhibition at the Box Hill Town Hall on October 13 and 14. It was a great Show and if you missed it, please mark your diaries for 2019.
A successful Exhibition relies on many volunteers and sponsors and the BSV extends a very special thank you to all those who helped make this Exhibition a magnificent event. Your help is very much appreciated.
The Annual Exhibition is an opportunity for Members to display their work and we were not disappointed in 2018. Over 90 wonderful bonsai were on display with an extensive range of species and styles. Visitors to the Exhibition were very pleased with the display. See below for views of the display.
In addition to the display, the Exhibition had a sales area for trees and bonsai equipment, a special display table for children’s bonsai, demonstrations and a Children’s Workshop where the children were able to select and pot a small bonsai.
To recognise the excellent examples of our bonsai art, the Society makes two awards. The People’s Choice Award is based on votes by visitors to the Exhibition for their favourite tree. The Geoff Vanner Perpetual Trophy for the best tree in show was based on votes by BSV Members.
For 2018, the winner of the People’s Choice Award was Val for her well presented Sticky Wattle – Acacia howittii. Well done Val and we are sure you are still celebrating.
The Geoff Vanner Perpetual Trophy for 2018 was awarded to Matt for his Chinese Elm “Seiju” – Ulmus parvifolia “Seiju”. This is a great example of this small leafed variety . Matt and his winning tree are shown below.
A small selection of other bonsai on display are included below.
The BSV had a capacity crowd attending the September Meeting and they brought with them a wide variety of magnificent flowering bonsai.
Mike Simonetto was invited to share his vast knowledge and experience growing flowering bonsai and members were looking forward to his talk.
Mike shared his experience and observations covering the various growing issues and an extensive range of species suitable for bonsai. Too much for this post but a sample of his comments are included below.
Mike has found most seeds for these types of trees germinate better with stratification.
Cuttings can develop better with bottom heating and misting.
Wire tourniquet is preferred for layering and later in the Spring to Summer period is preferred.
pH – it is helpful to understand the pH of your preferred soil mix as it can be relevant to particular species and availability of nutrients to your trees.
Light is very important at every stage of growing. Flowers depend on it, growth is more compact and it reduces pests.
Always plant trees at an angle after root pruning to set up the tree for a future bonsai. Initially bury the roots deeper to aid their development.
Fertilisers – a mixture of controlled release, organic and liquid can deliver best outcomes. Mike does not believe extra phosphorus is required for flowers. Similarly, too much nitrogen can delay flowering and reduce their life. Best NPK ratios for flowering bonsai is considered to be 1, 0.2, 0.8.
Watering – essential that trees in flower never lack water as they use more water than normal during this period.
Planting in pots can be easier to work with and it provides more control over the roots but growth is slower and watering is more critical.
Planting in the ground can provide much faster growth, roots and branches are much coarser but you need to dig every year and it is hard work.
When developing trees, don’t allow flowers or fruit to develop to encourage stronger development.
Finally, keep your trees moving forward and don’t let them stagnate. Repot and fertilise.
Mike also provided comments on a wide variety of species and their particular characteristics. For example, some native plants are susceptible to phosphorus toxicity, some varieties need both male and female plants to germinate for fruit and sterile tools will be required when working on fungus susceptible varieties.
Following the presentation, Mike also answered questions and was warmly thanked by the BSV President.
With longer days and warmer weather, our trees are slowly entering the spring growth phase and generating much work for bonsai enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the weeds are also strongly responding to these changes generating even more work.
BSV Members met at our normal venue to work on their trees and seek advice and guidance from other members; and to have a chat and catch up. Repotting, re-styling and trimming activities were the main focus. A very productive afternoon was had by all.
Photos of many of these activities are included below.
This old Liquidamber received treatment on the top and the bottom.
See the before and after photos of this Juniper which are designed to improve the trunk taper.
The BSV had great pleasure in welcoming Roger Hnatiuk to our Monday meeting to talk about the design and styling of bonsai in the context of Australian tree species and landscapes. It was a very interesting and informative discussion and several of Roger’s views on these subjects are included below.
In designing Australian species as bonsai, Roger suggested we should design to tell stories that connect with the landscape, its colour and its people.
The essentials for Design include
Wire, soils, tools, etc.
Artistic concepts, balance, colour, texture, movement, etc.
Knowledge and experience of trees, how they grow, etc., and
Your spirit, soul, artistic voice, style.
Roger noted that many bonsai enthusiasts were often more impressed with the design rather than the art and the aesthetics.
Pictures of several trees were used to illustrate how the tree and the pot could work together to tell a great story that was more than just the tree’s form.
Roger challenged the desire to have one front only suggesting that other views can be important as well. Be mindful of how your tree will be displayed and viewed when styling your tree.
Studying trees in their natural environment can assist in the styling process.
Roger reminded all of John Naka’s quote. “Don’t turn your tree into a bonsai, turn your bonsai into a tree.”.
On Saturday the 11th August we had the wonderful Don De Luca conduct two workshop sessions. Everyone had a fantastic time working on their trees under Don’s watchful eye as he helped each participant develop an improved tree.
Don’s vast experience with a variety of tree types and his bonsai styling skills provide an opportunity for members to learn much in this workshop. Everyone not only enjoyed the workshop but appreciated Don’s warmth and friendship. It was a huge learning curve for a few members as this was the first time they had participated in or experienced a workshop and they want more as they can see the benefits of working with a wonderful tutor and teacher.
Don was delighted with the range and pearls in the material to be worked on. Too soon we ran out of time but look forward to having Don back.
Many of you had the fantastic opportunity of working with Bjorn at the AABC conference and I am sure you all agree that that was a fantastic opportunity to not only working on your tree but with a wonderful and talented person.
Several photos of the workshop activity are included below.
On a fine and heated Saturday, BSV Members gathered in East Kew to develop their skills on deciduous trees. It was a very busy afternoon and significant progress was made in the various activities. See the gathering below.
Victor L. led another session on growing triple trunk Trident Maples. This session followed up plantings done last year, helped Members create new plantings and demonstrated the next stage in the process where the metal plate is removed and the triple trunk repotted. See photos below.
Photos below show plate removal steps.
Facilities were also available to assist Members in their repotting activity.
Mark L., Victor B. and Victor L. provided assistance to Members with developing and styling their trees. Photos of several examples are included below
The BSV was very pleased to welcome Don De Luca from Hay in NSW to talk about growing Desert Ash trees as bonsai. Don spent time talking about the extreme weather conditions that exist in Hay and how these can have a big impact on growing techniques. Participants were also reminded that even in Melbourne, there are many different micro-climates and bonsai enthusiasts need to be aware of these to ensure their Desert Ash can flourish. Desert Ash examples displayed by Don are included below.
Don’s preferred area of interest is the development of the trunk and branches. Below is a photo showing how Don trimmed a Desert Ash ready for the next seasons growth. Significant reductions in development times can be achieved if you are able to access Yamadori trunks. For example, techniques applied by Don can usually achieve the branching and ramification shown above in the blue pot in about 5 years from stock similar to that in the black pot below.
Don then moved on to demonstrate the fine tuning necessary to finish off the development of a Desert Ash using this process. The tree is shown below with the master at work.
See below for bonsai growing wisdom from Don
Access to Yamadori stock such as Dave’s in Bendigo can give you a great head start in the bonsai development process. In Hay, Don uses Styrene pots or big pots to help protect plants from the extreme weather and keep their roots cool.
Don finds defoliation to be a great technique for faster development. Total defoliation works well in Hay but in Melbourne, it may need to be modified. For example, a variant could be to remove the outer leaves but leave the inner leaves. You may need to experiment in your own local area to find the best approach for you.
Trees with big bases usually mean lots of big cuts to develop attractive taper. Don says be brutal. If you can’t hide a wound, make it a feature.
Keep the future style and taper in mind when cutting back shoots.
Remove any growth at the wrong angle.
Wiring can speed the development process and is essential to finish the tree. Don prefers starting at the bottom and working up the tree.
Don has found that letting the wire cut in can assist the development of the rough bark. See examples below.
Examples of the detailed branch structure and ramification are included below.
A hugely successful Novice #3 beginners’ session has just been completed. Without doubt, the BSV Novice Program has to be the best value beginners’ program in Melbourne. Huge thanks to Mark Ludlow, owner of Master’s Apprentice Bonsai School and Nursery, for being our most patient and informative teacher. Also huge thanks to Victor Byrdy, BSV President, for having the vision to make such a fabulous learning opportunity available to bonsai novices.
The BSV Novice Program will be available again in three sessions during September, October and November later this year. Current cost for members is $60 per session ($80 per session for non-members). Participants receive detailed notes, two plants per session on which to apply their new found artistic skills and one on one support.
Tools and wire are available during the sessions so there is no need to rush out and buy gear. I thoroughly recommend completing this program if you are a novice. More information will be posted on this site, in due course, regarding the next program. Go forth and bonsai!!!!
On a mild autumn evening, over 40 BSV members gathered to hear Scott talk about growing and maintaining Japanese Black Pines. Scott briefly outlined the key aspects of growing Black Pines as bonsai and then proceeded to assist members with their own pines.
Some of the points made by Scott are listed below:
Autumn/Winter – bud selection, needle plucking, feeding, wiring and styling.
Spring – candle breaking and feeding.
Summer – decandling and energy balancing.
Many of these activities are focussed on balancing growth. Scott promotes the “Goldilocks Approach” – not too strong and not too weak.
Needle plucking – best to work from top down and ensure plucking in the same direction of the needles to avoid damage to the branch.
Avoid spiking yourself by working up and under.
Black Pines need full sun and air movement.
Feed well in autumn and spring.
A significant time investment is required to properly maintained black pine bonsai.
Some examples of the workshop activity are included below.