2018 June Monday – Desert Ash Demonstration

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.

Desert Ash
Desert Ash
Desert Ash
Desert Ash

 

Desert Ash styling almost done.
Desert Ash styling almost done.

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.

Desert Ash trimmed for next stage of trunk & branch development.
Desert Ash trimmed for next stage of trunk & branch development.

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.

Tree has been wired and final shaping is applied.
Tree has been wired and final shaping is applied.

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.

Branch development
Branch development
Branch development
Branch development
President Victor thanking Don.
President Victor thanking Don.

Members trees on display are included below.

Continue reading 2018 June Monday – Desert Ash Demonstration

2018 May Novice Training #3

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!!!!

Below are photos from the session.

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2018 May Monday – Pines Workshop

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.

Scott talking about maintaining Japanese Black Pines
Scott talking about maintaining Japanese Black 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.

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Some examples of the workshop activity are included below.

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Trees on show are displayed below.

Continue reading 2018 May Monday – Pines Workshop

2018 May Saturday Program

Following the first blast of some real winter temperatures and rain, BSV Members met to work on their trees and get them ready for winter.  Heaters, hot drinks and a warm afternoon tea helped keep the cold at bay.

A selection of trees being worked on by members is included below.

 

Pine - unusual variety.
Pine – unusual variety.

Evidence of a styling plan being applied.

Pine
Pine
Desert Ash.
Desert Ash.
Pine clean up.
Pine clean up.
Kunzea variety.
Kunzea variety.

The strong growth on this  Kunzea is being trimmed.  Thought to be ericoides species but there is some doubt and further research is in hand.

Pine
Pine
Chinese Elm - "Seiju"
Chinese Elm – “Seiju”

Expert advice is that this small elm is now ready for fine tuning and re-potting in a bonsai pot.

2018 April Monday – Yamadori

At the April BSV Monday meeting, John and Dave talked about collecting Yamadori in Australia and the issues you face when collecting.

John & Dave talking about Yamadori
John & Dave talking about Yamadori

John had several recent Yamadori on display to illustrate the types of trees that could be collected.

Jade Yamadori
Jade Yamadori
Olive Yamadori
Olive Yamadori

They covered a very wide range of issues that you will need to address if you are to be successful at collecting Yamadori.  Some of their comments are included below.

  • Make sure your planned activities are legal.  There are Federal, State and Local Government laws that apply in various circumstances and permits may be required.  Urban Yamadori on private property may be an easier option.
  • Risk management plans are necessary to ensure diggers and the public are kept safe.
  • Yamadori can range from small to very large.
  • Digging and caring for Yamadori are time intensive activities so choose carefully before you start to dig.
  • Dave suggests you select your tree based on nebari, movement, taper and bark.  Branches can be grown later.
  • Some species such as Hawthorn can be temperamental so timing and aftercare are critical.
  • Different techniques such as the “Sweating Technique” and open soil mixes are being experimented with to improve success rates.  The roots need to be kept moist until the tree can be potted.  Some species such as Jade need special treatment to avoid wood rot.
  • Equipment needed depends on many things but could include hand saws, secateurs and a sharp shovel.  A chain saw may also be an option.  Pre-dig preparation can assist.

Photos of trees on display at the Meeting are included below.

Eucalyptus Yamadori
Eucalyptus Yamadori
Eucalyptus Yamadori
Eucalyptus Yamadori
Yellow Box
Yellow Box
Mugo Pine
Mugo Pine
Pine
Pine
English Elm Group
English Elm Group
Lillypilly
Lillypilly
Cotonester
Cotonester
Kingsville Box
Kingsville Box
Lillypilly
Lillypilly
Olive
Olive

2018 April Sales Day & Saturday Program

With strong winds and rain threatening, preparation for the 2018 BSV Sales Day started early with a frenzy of activity to unload plants and arrange displays.  Meanwhile, eager buyers were queueing at the door eager to get inside.  Luckily, the rain held off until after the doors opened at 9-30pm as buyers rushed in to check out the extensive range of plants and bonsai for sale.  Great bargains for everyone concerned.  The crowd had subsided quite a bit by the time this photo was taken.

BSV Sale Day
BSV Sale Day

By all reports, both buyers and sellers had a great day.  Many thanks to all who helped setup and clean up afterwards.

After the rush of the Sale Day, the organisers had a brief break for lunch before joining the Saturday Program to work on trees.  Examples are included below.

Juniper
Juniper
Juniper
Juniper
White Pine
White Pine
Juniper
Juniper

 

Juniper - before adjustments
Juniper – before adjustments
Juniper - after adjustments.
Juniper – after adjustments.

 

2018 March Monday – Carving Demonstration

At the March meeting of the BSV, Michael Simonetto shared his extensive knowledge of carving bonsai with members.  His demonstration included both hand and power tools.

Michael reviewing carving options for this pine.
Michael reviewing carving options for this pine.

First of all, he emphasised the importance of safety and using the appropriate safety protection for the task at hand.  This could cover eye protection, ear protection and hand protection.  Secondly, tool techniques are vital and it is essential your hands are always behind the tool that is making the cut.  It was also noted that some tools are made for dragging rather than pushing which changes the safety requirements.

A range of power tools can be used depending on the magnitude of the task at hand and of course the choice of cutting bit.  More powerful tools will require more stringent safety measures to avoid harm if unexpected events occur.  Look for ways to more safely support the power tool and make sure you are cutting with the grain.

When carving bonsai, the intention is to create very natural looking deadwood and this can take a very long time as you move from the initial rough cuts to finishing off.  Some of Michael’s comments are included below.

  • Make sure the tree is firm in the pot before starting.
  • Observe what happens in nature to help guide how to shape and finish off the deadwood.
  • The edge of a thick piece of glass can be good for finishing off.
  • It is easier to tear young wood with moisture.
  • When tackling a large jin, a cut around the base to avoid stripping down the trunk.
  • With shari, mark it first and follow the trunk line.

Examples of activity on the night are included below.

Using a power tool to shape a jin.
Using a power tool to shape a jin.
Removing deadwood from an olive.
Removing deadwood from an olive.
Shari and jin development on a juniper.
Shari and jin development on a juniper.

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Olive deadwood removal using a power cutter.
Olive deadwood removal using a power cutter.
Olive front after initial deadwood removal.
Olive front after initial deadwood removal.

 

Continue reading 2018 March Monday – Carving Demonstration

2018 February Monday Banksia

Our Banksia evening in February was a very informative and engaging session with Craig Wilson. BSV members watched eagerly as Craig pruned several large banksias and demonstrated the fact that they can be seriously chopped with very successful back budding in due course.

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We learnt that they need to be regularly fertilized.

He suggested it is better to start with a young banksia sapling rather than old nursery stock. Begin your banksia bonsai by cutting off the sapling roots and then plant on a sloping angle in the pot to commence the intended curvature right at the base of the tree.

Craig advocated defoliating banksia in early Spring and usually cuts leaves in half rather than totally stripping the tree, to facilitate ongoing photosynthesis. Defoliation will help to develop lots of new twig growth which will result in lots of fine growth and smaller leaves. Pinching out new tips will help with ramification.

A banksia on display.

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2018 February Saturday Program

It was warm and humid at the start of the session but rain showers during the afternoon brought some relief.  Members worked on a wide range of trees and azalea experts were on hand to assist as required.  Examples of the trees are included below.  Lots of chatting over a great afternoon tea.  A very productive afternoon.

 

Fig
Fig
Black Pine
Black Pine
Pinus radiata
Pinus radiata
Liquidamber
Liquidamber
Trident Maple
Trident Maple
All ready for trimming.
All ready for trimming.
Azalea
Azalea
Azalea
Azalea
Pine variety in need of work.
Pine variety in need of work.
Pine variety in need of work.
Pine variety in need of work.

2018 January Monday – Fig Demo & Workshop

In the first meeting for 2018, Tien from Bonsai Sensation conducted a brief demonstration on growing figs for bonsai followed by a workshop for members to work on their figs and seek guidance if necessary.  Over 40 BSV Members were very engaged in the demo and the workshop and there was a real buzz in the air as they got down to work.  Below are a few photos of Tien demonstrating with figs.  It was interesting to see how quickly Tien trimmed his trees.

Tien discussing figs
Tien discussing figs
Tien trimming a fig
Tien trimming a fig
A trimmed fig.
A trimmed fig.

Tien focussed his demonstration of developing fig bonsai with good nebari and taper.  He covered repotting, trimming of roots and branches and defoliation.  He reminded all those present that the tree doesn’t want to be a bonsai so we need to regularly trim the longer shoots.

See examples of Tien’s work below.

Fig
Fig
Fig trimmed by Tien
Fig trimmed by Tien
Applying movement to a small fig.
Applying movement to a small fig.

Examples of figs being worked on by members.

Fig
Fig
Fig
Fig

Photos of bonsai on display are included below.

Black Pine, Japanese Winterberry, Kingsville Box & Chinese Elm.
Black Pine, Japanese Winterberry, Kingsville Box & Chinese Elm.
Fig
Fig
Trident Maple
Trident Maple
Ficus watkinsiana
Ficus watkinsiana
Fig
Fig
Fig
Fig
Fig
Fig
Fig
Fig
Small Fig Group
Small Fig Group
Coastal Tea Tree
Coastal Tea Tree