June Club Meeting: Desert Ash
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.