Tuesday, October 28, 2008

July 2008

The most exciting time for Bonsai lies just around the corner, so its time to get ready for all the spring jobs. I know we may have some cool nights ahead still but nature is starting to show clear signs of spring. Things I have noticed are new buds bursting on the elms. New buds coming out on the black pines, and most noticeable is the winds, they are from the N.E. which are our predominant spring summer winds. I am still cautious though, I have been caught before. If we are not aware, we can be caught out or running to catch up. So here are a few things you need to think of:
If you are unsure leave it for a few more weeks.

You should be preparing to repot all your trees soon. Some can be left to later such as pines, figs, but your elms, maples junipers etc are ready to go. What happens with the old soil is that it becomes drained of all its nutrients, we can continue to fertilise but this is not the optimum. Much of the humus has broken down, and can become quite mushy. It is vital that the mix you use is “open”, and “sharp”. By this I mean it is free draining, and that much of the mix is sharp in content, such as sand and gravel. The purpose of this is to cause the roots to divide constantly. The roots travel along, hit something sharp and split. This is what we are after. The better the root system, the better the foliage. That makes sense doesn’t it! Unfortunately we pay little attention to the soil or the roots, out of sight, out of mind eh?.

I have had my own mix commercially made for me according to my own specifications for some time now and I have used a product in it called “Zeolite” This is a nonorganic substance that has been formed through the volcanic process. It is usually a brown type of rock but is very porous. It has some amazing qualities. It is reputed to be able to hold up to 70% of its own weight in moisture! But wait that’s not all, it has a negative charge, or negative ions. All organic material has positive ions, so it attracts these minerals, and all the other goodies and holds them. When the soil becomes moist, the ph changes, and the minerals are released, when it dries out they are regathered! This mineral is so amazing, they are now manufacturing it artificially!.
This is the mix I use in all my bonsai’s at the nursery.

Now is a good time to do some wiring. Many of your trees will have less foliage on them now. This allows wiring to be easy, as you can see more of your branch structure. Also take the time to remove any branchlets that are shooting out the wrong way. You can be fairly severe on elms, maple etc. cut them back hard, it will give you greater branch ramification in the future.

Now is a really good time to do some pruning and refining. Trees such as elms, and maples will respond really well to hard pruning now before leaf bud. By pruning back hard now you will create greater ramifications on your branches. There is nothing better than an elm or a maple that has hundreds of tiny twigs all exposed in winter, so now is the time to cut them back while you can see them. Keep cutting back to 2 leaves (or buds) on each branchlet and over spring and summer you will get fantastic growth. It is easy to just let them grow as they will look good, but winter will find you out with long stringy branchlets.

Take some time to assess your trees whilst they are defoliated, see what changes need to be made. Maybe its time to thin it out and remove some major branches! You may decide to reshape the whole tree, this is all part of the journey!

Some beautiful pots have come in (15 tonnes!!) The majority of them are handmade and some are very unique. Although I do wholesale into Australia with pots, there are some that I keep exclusive to the nursery. So you know you can buy something here you wont see anywhere else.

See you all soon!
Happy bonsai-ing!!

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