Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 2008

Welcome! Once again welcome to all the new readers of the newsletter, I hope you find it informative, inspiring and encouraging. Remember I am trying to cover a broad spectrum of experience amongst the readers. So there may be things that you have read before, but for others it comes as some really helpful information.

It always helps to remember where we have come from in our journey of bonsai, helping others with things that we may now consider fundamental, but to them a revelation!

The annual “Gold Coast Tweed Bonsai Club” will be holding its annual show on 8th and 9th of November, at the Robina Town Centre, Robina drive. This is situated near the library, it is on the outside of the shopping centre at the western end of the centre. It is held in the large community hall.

There will be some great bonsai on display, also there will be demonstrations each day, Saturday 11.00, and 2.00, Sunday 11.00. Admission is $5.00

I am sure you will find this very inspiring, and if not already a member you may wish to join.
I will be there only on Sunday at this stage with a sales table, so make sure you say g’day!

Its important to understand when you are selecting a tree to shape as a bonsai, that often you are not looking at the entire tree. More often than not the tree has been grown to its current size just to increase the trunk thickness. Don’t try and work out how you could shape the whole tree as it is. Start at the base of the trunk and imagine a tree with good taper using maybe only one third of the tree! You may throw the rest away. I have some beautiful pomegranates that are a good example of this. They are probably 50 cm’s high but would be cut back to around 25 cm’s! This looks stunning, a tiny little tree with beautiful flowers, and then the fruit. These take a bit of time to develop, but really pay dividends. Try and resist the instant bonsai pressure and begin to plan for the future, you will be surprised how fast time goes. I have recently cut of the whole top of a juniper and kept only the bottom branch, and turned it into a lovely cascade. By doing this you have a nice strong looking tree, with heaps of wow factor. If you are keen to do something like this, let me know next time you are at the nursery, and I will show you some trees that I keep my eyes on! This is a great way to expand your artistic ability and talents!

The global economy is going to effect our world of Bonsai!
I have been ready to re-order another container into Australia but with the drop of the $AU, (and still no end in sight of its bottom) it has become sobering to estimate the price of new stock coming in from overseas. I just did some quick figures and what my $AU15000 bought earlier this year buys a lot less now. To buy $15000 worth of stock now costs $25000! I guess the point is this, stock that is here already is a lot cheaper than that which will come from now on. Things such as wire, tools and pots will radically increase over the next 6 months. Someone commented the other day that the Japanese tools were dear, well wait till the next delivery, you will wish you got them now!

In saying this, I still think bonsai is a relatively cheap hobby. If anything prices have come down. I remember buying pots 15-18 years ago and paying more than they are now!

Trees are being effected for different reasons, water costs have risen, fertiliser costs have gone through the roof (40% in one hit!) and wages combined with land values, petrol for transport have all impacted on costs dramatically.

Yet in saying all this, bonsai is still one of the most enjoyable things to do, particularly in a climate of uncertainty!

Don’t forget to keep your eyes out for pests! Apart from overwatering, pests would be the main reason people struggle with their bonsai’s.

I find it much easier to act preventatively rather than curatively with my trees. In other words, don’t wait until you have a problem before you act as this may be to late!!

A monthly spray with a low toxicity all round spray such as pyrethrum will often do the trick. If you need to get on top of things you may need to go to products such as Folimat, or Confidor both available from Bunnings. The biggest problems are usually from red spider mite and are very damaging!(which is not really visible to the naked eye) white louse scale particularly on junipers.

Sometimes the best way to discover if the red spider mite is present is to hold a white piece of paper under a branch an gently tap it. Watch carefully to see if you have minute dots scurrying around the paper, these will be red spider mites.

There are things you can do to minimize the problems of pest and disease. By keeping your trees well aired, in other words let them be exposed to the elements. This will allow nature to do its thing as many birds etc will be predators to the bugs that bug you!
Keep your trees of the ground and the benches where you keep them clean. Don’t use old soil! All you may be doing is transplanting pests bugs and viruses!! Don’t try and penny pinch with soil, it is poor economy, and will deliver poor results as soil becomes denuded of its goodness over the year.

Keep your tools clean, get yourself a cleaning block (we have these available here) as cutting one tree and moving to the next can and will transmit disease and viruses.
Keep your trees turned, in other words rotate your trees so as they are getting equal amounts of sun to the whole tree. This is really important as the tree will produce healthy foliage when facing the sun, but at the other side of the tree it may be limited, and also provide a haven for the little bugs we have been talking about.

Keep your trees thinned out. Make sure your removing dead foliage that has formed inside the tree, again this will provide building material and hiding places for bugs. Keep the foliage pads short as this will allow more light inside the tree, producing smaller foliage as well as keeping the tree healthy.

Happy bonsai, and remember…. It’s a journey, not a destination!!

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