Monday, October 22, 2007

Newsletter April 2007

Welcome all the newcomers to the newsletter, things have been very busy lately with 10 attending all the recent classes. Hope all your trees are doing well!!
Bonsai is really growing at a rapid rate in Australia, but it still hasn’t caught up with the enthusiasm of Europe and the U.S.. I think we are developing our own unique style which is exciting to see. As I always say in my classes, the rules of bonsai are there for guidelines, not something that must be adhered to at all costs. You will never fully enjoy your bonsai until you break out of the mould and start to create pieces that YOU find pleasing. They may not all turn out spectacular but it will lead you to a more enjoyable pastime.
Its good to let pictures and other trees you see inspire you, but let that be the motivation, don’t try and copy things, this will always lead to disappointment!

Don’t forget to keep up the fertilizing at the moment. Even though the trees may seem to have stopped growing, they are still hard at work storing all their nutrients for spring. If you fail to keep this up at the moment, you will pay the price at spring time with less than efficient growth, and dieback of much of the small branchlets that take so long to develop. Remember that growth must come from somewhere, and that somewhere is nutrients stored in the trunk and large roots. This is especially important if you are trying to increase branch ramification on trees as well as fruit and flowers.

This is a good time for exploring your trees as they defoliate, it’s a great time to consider if the tree needs restyling. Often over the growing months, the tree will send shoots out all over the place. Whilst the tree might look good in full foliage, its not until you see it with out its leaves you realize that the tree is really messy. Now don’t be lazy and just leave it as it is thinking it will look good again when its got all its leaves in spring! Take the time to go through all the branches and cut of all the branches that have grown to long, have grown to far upwards, shot downward under the branch, and grown outside the overall shape of the tree. Now wire any branches into their correct position. Remember that refinement is an ongoing work on your trees. Being deciduous it just makes it easier to get to.

This will pay dividends over the years with great ramification, which is just as important as your summer look.

There is nothing more stunning than a elm or maple that has hundreds or even thousands of tiny little branchlets in winter. Believe me this wont happen naturally, it takes time, pruning, fertilizing and vision. By vision I mean seeing the future shape of the tree, by starting at each individual branch.

Most people are a little timid when it comes to pruning their deciduous trees. It is really important to be quite hard in cutting them back. Especially with trees such as elms, you need to be fairly savage. Remember to cut to the bud that you want the branch/branchlets to grow in.
By doing this you will create shorter internodes (the distance between the buds) which will give you better ramification. If this is not trimmed or pruned each year, you will gain a mass/mess of little twiglets that will not produce the fine even growth you are trying to achieve.

Pines also can be pruned quite hard now also. Remember to take out the larger candles at the top, and the smaller candles lower down as they are dominant in their apex. If this is not done then the tops will grow at the expense of the lower and inner branches.

By cutting back this way smaller buds will form at the base of the cut which will produce next seasons branchlets, which in turn will need to be thinned. This will help produce those elusive smaller needles and compact growth.

As your conifers begin to slow down in growth, you will notice that as the weather cools that you will get “die back” inside your tree. The reason for this is that sun is no longer penetrating this area so the tree stops producing new growth underneath. This leads to lots of small brown needles which if allowed to stay, will produce the ideal living place for lots of bugs (if it already hasn’t.) Much of insect infestation can be avoided by keeping your trees well groomed and clean.
The best way to remove these old needles is to use something like a chopstick to loosen all the old matter. After you have done this is then worth going over the tree and shortening all the smaller branchlets that have grown over 25mm in height above the branch. By doing this you will allow light to penetrate inside the tree which is imperative for health, good growth, and short compact ramification. This is how these lovely compact clouds are developed.

The latest edition of bonsai Europe is also now available for sale at the nursery. Again the quality is magnificent. Bonsai Europe has now combined with Bonsai today to produce and even bigger magazine. This is a real plus for bonsai nuts. These magazines really inspire, help you understand what is happening around the world and give great insight and tips to help you grow in bonsai.

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