Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 2008

Welcome to the new readers from the recent classes, hope all your trees are going well.
Sometimes you may notice some repeated articles in the newsletter. This is owing to the fact that after 4 years there is not a lot of new material to write for that particular month. I will always endeavor to bring fresh ideas and news to you. Remember that your input is always welcome, and subjects that you would like discussed or explained, just shoot me an email.
Also remember that the stock of pots is on the website, which allows you to browse looking for something suitable before you get to the nursery. There are other pots here that are not on the site, these are the handmade range, which are not available anywhere else.

Winter is an important time to keep your trees in their best condition for the coming spring.
It is wise to spray your entire collection with a diluted amount of lime sulphur over the winter months.

Lime sulphur is a fungicide and pesticide which is fairly low in toxicity. It will keep at bay such things as sooty mould, some other funguses, and some of your minor pests.
Spray once a month for 3 months starting in say May.

The other effect it has is a lot of the little nasties that have laid eggs will be greeted (if not killed earlier) by a pesticide. Otherwise you can find you get of to a bad start in spring with all the little nasties hatching and looking for breakfast, at your place!!

Lime sulphur is available from Bunnings, use as directed.
The other use for lime sulphur is bleaching dead branches to create that old look as well as preserving the timber. When this is done it is used neat (undiluted) this is called “jinning”.

Whilst on the subject of jinning I thought it would be a good opportunity to explain a little further regarding this method of giving your trees a more “aged” look.
Remember a tree should always tell a story. It should look like the elements of nature have shaped it, not the hands of man.

This is where jinning comes in. Jinning is a method where all the cambium layer is stripped from a branch to give it a look of an older tree that has had damage done to it through either a storm or lightening, insects etc. A branch or apex can be jutting out of the top of a tree that appears to have been hit by lightening. Maybe a bottom branch that is no longer needed in the design of the tree can be stripped back to look as if over the years the branching above it has shut out the light causing it to die of.

So before you go cutting of branches, or cutting your tree down in height, consider leaving some and jinning it!

To start the jinning process you need to strip away the cambium layer from the branch to be jinned. Make sure you cut around the base of the branch where the jinning is intended to end, otherwise what can happen is when the bark is stripped of, it can tear past where you intended it to finish. This can be done with a sharp knife.

The next step is to remove the cambium layer. This is the living tissue under the bark. Beneath this is the heartwood or deadwood. This is the part we are going to bleach.
The best way to strip this bark of is with the use of jinning pliers. These are used to crush the cambium making it very easy to remove.

Remember to leave as many of the smaller branchlets on the branch being jinned, shorten them as they will add to the overall effect.

After this has been done, consider if the branch is the shape you want it to be. Because it is at this time you will get a one of chance of shaping it. You will find that it is still moist and supple and can be easily wired and trained into a new shape. You may want to twist it and get it spiraling up through the tree. This can look very effective.
You will only need to leave the wire on for about a month as the branch will quickly dry out and then become brittle. You can use heat to bend a branch further but this is fraught with danger as you can boil the sap right back down into the living tissue and kill the branch or even the whole tree!

After you have completed stripping the cambium away, make sure it is clean from any small bits of stringy pieces before you paint it.
The best way of getting the lime sulphur to be absorbed is to lightly spray the deadwood with water. By doing this it will be absorbed into the wood, which will inturn draw the lime sulphur deeper into the wood grain.

Using a small paintbrush, paint the lime sulphur on liberally, making sure it doesn’t run down the branch onto the rest of the tree, nor let it get in your soil. Cover the pot with a rag or similar to stop this happening.

Use the mixture straight from the container, don’t dilute it.
At first it will look very yellow, don’t worry as this will quickly turn white over the coming weeks. It is important to put it in the sun as this will enhance the whitening effect.
The lime sulphur will not only bleach the branch but will also work as a preservative on the timber.

You will need to do this again in a month or so and then say twice a year at any time.
Some trees respond better to jinning and bleaching. The softer timbers don’t do so well such as figs, but trees such as pines junipers swamp cypresses etc look awesome!
This all can be taken a step further if jinning presses your buttons!
This is where carving comes in. Now this can really be fun!

This ranges from using a small Dremmel, to the old “widow maker”. The process here is trying to replicate nature with carving the tree to make it look like it has been weathered for a long time. Twists can be carved into it, trunks can be hollowed, and so on. This takes a little bit of practice, but it can take an ordinary looking tree, and make it look spectacular!
The big bougainvillea on my email signature has been created in this way. Actually it is has even more carving now as I neglected to notice the ants building their home inside one of the trunks so now it has all been hollowed out and looks great.
Anyway give it a try!!
I have include a couple of photos of trees with jins to give you some ideas.

There has been quite a bit of raw stock come in lately, there are olives, trident maples from small to extra large, pyracanthas again medium and large, these are all covered with a beautiful yellow-orange berrie and look stunning, some small Japanese maple (you need to live in a cooler part of the coast for these to be at their best) some larger crab apples, and few other bits and pieces. As usual first in has the best pick. The majority of this stock has been ground grown which gives them great nebari’s (root structure around the trunk)

Happy Bonsai-ing