With the arrival of warmer weather, Members were very focussed on managing spring growth. A group of Members were being introduced to some of the basics of bonsai by Victor and Robert.
Air-layering is a great technique for improving your trees or quickly developing advanced trees. November/December is a time that suits air-layering on most varieties of trees and experts were on hand to guide members through the air-layering process. See examples below.
Other trees under development at the workshop are included below.
Our guest presenter for the Monday meeting was Tien from Bonsai Sensation together with a cameo appearance from Victor to talk about the Bunjin style. Tien’s task for the night was to take a well developed Black Pine and move it towards a Bunjin style.
Tien talked about the features of the tree and how they guided their thinking towards a Bunjin style which is illustrated in the following sketch. The great trunk line and nice bark are very important in this tree.
Below are several photos showing the styling adjustments and the final outcome for the night. One major branch has not been jinned at this stage as a cautious approach towards the final design. Also, remaining branches and foliage will need further development and refinement.
During the course of the re-styling, Tien also shared many of his ideas about growing bonsai.
Ensure the branches you develop are sustainable.
Tien prefers to see the trunk and branches.
When developing pines, keep the tree growth compact while letting a lower branch leader run to develop better nebari. Time in the ground can assist and ultimately the leader is removed. See the examples below.
Take advantage of back budding to develop compact growth.
Tien doesn’t like the rounded apex for older trees as the growth can lead to thicker branches which detracts from the tree design and ultimately will need to be cut off and started again. Trimming back and replacing with new growth is the preferred option.
Victor talked about the history of the Bunjin or Literati style and how it developed many years ago. Characteristics include a three-dimensional and asymmetrical form leading to a tall, elegant and slender tree. The pot needs to be understated so it doesn’t distract from the trunk line. Prominent nebari is not required as the emphasis is on the trunk and its quality, texture and line. Branches should be few in number and usually short in proportion to the height of the tree. Foliage tends to be sparse.
Many thanks to all the Members and volunteers for their help in preparing and running another very successful Bonsai Exhibition on 14 and 15 October at the Box Hill Town Hall. Over 90 trees were on display by Members and a well stocked sales area was the scene of much frenetic activity.
The Geoff Vanner Perpetual Trophy for Best Tree in Show was judged by Joe and awarded to Dave for his English Elm Forest also euphemistically known as “Sherwood Forest”. Congratulation to Dave for creating a masterpiece.
The People’s Choice Competition was enthusiastically adopted by the public and close attention was given to final choices. After counting many votes, our Competition Manager Robert announced that tree number 25, an English Elm grown by Howard and Marian was voted as favourite tree. Well done.
Children developing an interest in bonsai also had an opportunity to display their trees and these are shown below.
Many thanks to raffle donors and show supporters. Seasol, Bonsai Sensation, Goseng Trading, Val’s Pots, Hachinoki Bonsai, Murrumbung Studio Ceramics, Ray White and Box Hill Town Hall.
BSV members are preparing their trees for the 2017 Exhibition at Box Hill Town Hall in October and look forward to sharing their art with you at the Exhibition. The Exhibition is held on Saturday and Sunday, the 14th and 15th October 2017 starting at 9am each day. See the information below for more details and make sure the date is in your diary.
Annalea joined us at our September meeting to share her extensive knowledge and 22 years experience of growing wisteria’s. The capacity crowd enjoyed the discussion and had lots of questions for Annalea.
Highlights of the presentation are included below.
The tree in the above photos is a floribunda or Japanese variety.
Propagation by air layer is the preferred method. Grafts can also work. These methods usually produce flowers quickly. Growing from seed is considered a waste of time.
Best growing conditions for wisteria’s vary with the climate and experimentation will be required to get the best out of your plants.
At least 6 hours of direct sun a day is needed to get good flower displays.
Soil needs to be well draining and open. No dust.
A variety of fertilisers over the growing season can be beneficial but it is very important that high potassium varieties are used in late summer/early autumn to encourage next season flower growth. Generally use half the strength of the label suggestions.
Pruning whips is usually done when they get to a metre long. Cut back to three buds. Leave the shorter stubs as flowers bud on these.
Defoliation may be another option for wisteria’s but Annalea has not tried this option.
Over time, wisteria branches keep extending and will need to be cut back. An air layer opportunity?
Use wire very carefully as branches/trunks can snap easily. Bend over days/weeks and try to twist the branch to strengthen branches.
When styling, be mindful of the size of the flowers. Wisterias tend to have straight trunks so if taking an air layer, get something interesting. Further bending may also be required.
Wounds/cuts can take a long time to heal. Sealing cut branches and large roots is essential. Sharp tools are required.
Air Layers. Best time is end October/early November. Think about the nebari and trunk movement when selecting the air layer location. Often there is a good thick area where branches join. Use hormone powder. Cover with a thick pad ( 50mm?) of wet sphagnum moss. Cover with clear plastic and tie tightly at both ends. Then apply black plastic over the top so you can check the root development without disturbing the roots. Add more water if required. It should take 6 to 7 weeks for roots to develop. Before potting the air layer, remove as much deadwood as possible from under the root ball and seal well. You should get strong feeder root growth in a flat plane. See photo below for an example of root development after one year in the pot.
Repot annually or maybe very two years.
Beware of fungus attack. They can be terminal and it is often very difficult to detect early indications of infection and to treat. The fungus can be contagious so disinfect tools and hands to avoid spreading it to other trees. See the photo of a casualty below.
Victor extending thanks to Annalea.
A selection of other trees on display are included below.
Rui Ferreira from the Algarve area of Portugal gave up some of his European summer to enjoy the delights of a Victorian winter and share his wealth of bonsai experience with BSV members. In addition to conducting workshops with members over the last couple of days, Rui’s challenge for the Monday demonstration was to re-style a Juniperus squamata. Playing safe was not an option so Rui pursued his preferred vision of the tree recognising that only so much could be done at this time. See Rui with the tree before re-styling below.
Considering the re-styling, Rui liked the first movement in the trunk but was planning to tackle what he believed were the two major issues for the tree. The lack of taper towards the top of the tree and the sparse foliage. A drastic reduction was proposed as a first step towards a more compact tree as shown below.
This variety of juniper tends to be brittle so branches likely to require bending had been kept moist for most of the day to assist. Narrow jute webbing soaked in water and wrapped around branches prior to wiring and bending is Rui’s preferred method. He has found that raffia can scar or mark the trunk. See the use of webbing on the main branch below.
Jins are generally created by cutting halfway through the branch and then breaking the branch as this can help create good jins. His favourite tool for removing bark is a tool used to clean horses hooves. Jins are usually left for twelve months for them to weather before using lime sulphur or similar.
As the final styling developed, Rui decided the upper branch was too long with no growth and it was removed.
For potting, a small round pot with a rough texture was preferred. Rui noted that he had seen some great pots in Australia and he was sure options were available that would help capture the vision for this tree.
Following final trimming, Rui was pleased with the “rough sketch” that had now been developed as is shown below. Future development will focus on developing compact growth and adding a shari to the lower trunk to make it less bulky.
The BSV thanks Rui for sharing his knowledge and experience and helping Members improve their bonsai skills.
The BSV Monday meeting in July was a workshop aimed at fine tuning trees for the BSV Show in October. Many trees were subject to intensive activity to style and or fine tune. A few examples are included below.
Several Member’s trees were also on display including a few with flowers.
The Saturday workshop in July was bustling with activity. In addition to working on their trees, members could also participate in the Children’s Day activities or join the Grafting Masterclass.
The Bonsai Society of Victoria organised the Children’s Day activities to introduce and share our interest in bonsai by enabling our members to work with their children and grandchildren to create a bonsai together. Every child attending was shown how to make a bonsai with a plant and pot provided. The wonderful bonsai created were for the children to keep and enjoy for many years to come. Several examples of work in progress are included below.
Many thanks to Peter for running the Grafting Masterclass in Max’s absence. Peter took participants through the basics of grafting crab apples on to a different root stock. See examples below.
At the June Meeting of the Bonsai Society of Victoria, Michael S. demonstrated a great approach to developing seedlings into bonsai. Members enjoyed a very interesting discussions about the process which Michael was able to demonstrate on a range of tree varieties. Many helpful hints were provided throughout the discussion and a number of these are included below.
The essence of Michael’s approach is “balancing vigour”. This applies to both foliage and roots and is generally achieved through leader replacement and wiring. This approach also contributes significantly to developing taper. See below for more comments on the process
This is a process for developing seedlings into foundation material for great bonsai.
Start the process when seedlings are well established but still flexible enough for wiring and bending.
The seedlings are removed from the pot, old leader cut back, new leader wired and shaped, roots trimmed to balance vigour and shortened and then repotted. This process is repeated every year or two over many years as the trunk is progressively developed.
When trimming roots, preferably select those at a 45 degree angle to the main trunk line as this contributes to better nebari.
Wiring needs to achieve an elegant shape in three dimensions and be mindful of what you are trying to achieve in10 years or so.
If a trunk is too thick to wire, cut off, repot and try again.
Planting in the ground may assist growth in some species. But, for junipers, experience suggests that planting in the ground rarely gives a better outcome that using a pot. Also, junipers are a species known for naturally poor nebari.
If applying this process to conifers, the suggestion is to leave the previous leader in place as they often don’t bud again – eventually it will be removed. Try to arrange branch placement to encourage vigour in the new leader and discourage growth in the old leader.
Feed your plants well and when using pots, it is best to repot after two years to achieve higher growth rates. If in the ground, balance vigour after three years.
Members also had several trees on display and these are included below. Apologies for the lack of focus in some photos but hopefully you can still appreciate the shape and colour.
The June Workshop was held a week earlier than normal to avoid the public holiday in Victoria next week. For interested Members, there was also a Masterclass conducted by Victor L. to show members how to grow a triple trunk Trident Maple.
Masterclass – While developing a triple trunk Trident maple will involve many years of growing, trimming and shaping, the starting point is straightforward. See notes below.
Select seeds from a tree with the desired leaf shape and grow seedlings.
Use an aluminium plate with three holes to achieve the initial placement of the seedlings. See photo below.
Wire the seedlings to keep the trunks apart and pot with about 3cms of soil above the aluminium plate.
Balance the seedling growth so each trunk has a different diameter. During this period, also start to develop the styling of the trunks and branches.
A growth period in the ground may assist.
When roots growing above the plate fuse together, you cut off the roots below the plate and remove the plate.
Continue to style the “tree” as it grows and develops.
The following tree is an example of what can be achieved with this technique.