The first Saturday Workshop for 2018 was very productive with much activity focussed on trimming, defoliating and revitalising developing and existing bonsai. We also had two visitors from Europe who are spending time in Melbourne and took the opportunity to join us. It was great to hear about their experiences in the European climate and we are sure they learnt a lot about the Melbourne climate and the tree species that do well here.
Photos of a selection of trees and the results of some of the days activities are included below.
Best Wishes to all for Christmas and the New Year. We look forward to seeing you in 2018; maybe with a new tree or two.
The December Workshop was the last one for 2017 and all tables were full as Members worked on a wide variety of trees. Restyling, trimming, defoliating and chin wagging about trees, life in general and plans for Christmas. Despite all the talk, great progress was made on many of the trees and examples are shown below. In some cases showing changes made during the day.
It was close to a full house as BSV members met for the final meeting of 2017. First on the Agenda was the Annual General Meeting of the Society followed by Trevor talking about azaleas. The evening finished with a great supper provided by members.
Brief reports were provided covering the years activities. These included the continuing healthy membership, extensive communications with members via Newsletter, Web site and Facebook, an extensive program of demonstrations and workshops, Masterclass and Novice sessions, a very successful Annual Bonsai Exhibition, Welcome packs for new members, a successful Sales Day and several community events. Finances remain sound with further investments in member benefits and a small surplus recorded for the year. Membership fees will remain unchanged for 2018.
The Frank Hocking Award for 2017 was awarded to Robert R. for his many valuable and ongoing contributions to the Society.
Following a recommendation from the Committee, the meeting agreed to award Life Membership to Gerard S. in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the Society over many years. Gerard also won the tree display raffle with his Lemon Scented Gum displayed earlier in the year.
Many thanks were extended to the Committee and members for their hard work during the year to create opportunities for members to develop and extend their bonsai art capabilities.
Following the annual reports, elections for next years office bearers were conducted by Howard W.. Victor, Chris and Neil continue as President, Treasurer and Committee member. The Society welcomes new Committee members Melissa as Secretary together with John H., Victor L., Andre N., Kim B. and Colin B..
Special thanks were extended to the retiring Committee members Kevin, Rob and Lyn for their contributions during this and past years.
The Committee looks forward to your continuing involvement in the Society during 2018.
Following the AGM, Trevor from Bonsai Art Nursery talked about azaleas; some of which are displayed above. Trevor focussed on the Satsuki variety in his talk.
The correct pronunciation of Satsuki can be challenging with the “u” being silent in Japanese. Trevor has a long habit of using the phonetic pronunciation for many years and finds it difficult to change.
Azaleas are part of the Rhododendron genus and the common indica, kurume and satsuki cultivars have been intensely cultivated over hundreds of years.
Satsuki azaleas are good for bonsai. They have small leaves, they flower in late spring/early summer and have new growth before flowering. They have been bred in Japan over hundreds of years to be used in bonsai. There are thousands of species with an extensive range of flower colours and shapes. Different colours and shapes can be found on the same plant and they can change over time.
Indica and kurume varieties can be used for bonsai but are generally not preferred. Indica have large leaves and flowers and kurume require more work than satsuki.
Satsuki enjoy being a bit pot bound and are suitable for many bonsai styles.
Soil needs to be well draining and watering is best applied after the surface layer dries out. Pots may need to be a bit deeper to help the plants cope with the drier conditions in Australia.
Satsuki in bloom are great indoors for short periods but avoid watering the flowers to extend their life. Soak the pot.
Satsuki are not apical dominant so be very careful when trimming the apex.
Time in the ground can help develop nebari.
The lace bug is the most common pest and will need a systemic insecticide to control.
And many other helpful hints which I am sure Trevor will be happy to share when you visit his nursery.
Display trees including azaleas are included below.
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.
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