Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 2010


Hi to all the new recipients of the newsletter, hope you enjoy its contents. The purpose of the newsletter is to keep you updated on any events, sales and hopefully to inspire you to go further with your beloved art of Bonsai!


Defoliating is the term used to describe the removal of all foliage. This is only done on broadleaf varieties. Trees such as figs, maples etc are ideal for this.

This is practiced in bonsai for a few reasons. By removing the foliage, the tree goes to work developing new leaves to keep the process of work happening in the plant. The tree cant survive without leaves.

One of the reasons for doing this is that it will increase branch ramification, (more branching and sub-branching) as there is more light allowed inside the tree. This stimulates growth on dormant buds back along the existing branches.

The second reason is leaf size. By cutting all the leaves of, the tree will prematurely produce new leaves which will be reduced in size. This is one of the other aspects we are trying to create in bonsai, small leaves.

Now a word of warning, (or 2) don’t do this to sick trees, it will put them under to much stress, and they may die. Also do this only in December as this is the optimum time for the tree to produce new leaves, left to late and the tree may not be able to produce new leaves if the temperatures drop. Again you may lose your tree. When you cut the leaf stem cut it just above the joint between branch and stem, and always use sharp scissors!!

Its worth mentioning here about the use of clean sharp tools.

Have a go this December, and watch the results. Remember to back of on the watering as they will not be transpiring as before, feel the soil before watering each time.


The reason it is so important to have sharp cutting tools is that when you cut a branch/branchlet, that the cut is clean, with no ragged edges. If you were to look at a cut nade with a blunt pair of scissors, or side cutters etc, you would notice that although it has caused separation, the cut would be jagged and the stem crushed back up from the cut. This creates a couple of problems, 1 it will cause die back along the branch and 2 it will make the branch more susceptible to disease.

This is the reason that better quality steel tools are used. The better the quality the steel, the better the cutting edge will remain sharp, and will actually be sharper because of the hardness of the steel.

I encourage people to plan the purchase of tools, they don’t all have to be bought at once but as the budget allows. If looked after, these quality will last a lifetime.

They old adage is true “you get what you pay for”

We have some Chinese scissors in stock at the moment that I have been using for the past 5 months. The are of very good quality and I am really happy with their performance. They are slightly cheaper than the Japanese scissors and I think they are slightly better quality.

These are not to be confused with the cheaper quality Chinese tools.


The need for fertilizing at the moment is twofold.

1. With all the heavy rain, your soil will “leach” out all the nutrients. In other woprds the fertilizer you have (read should) been using will be washed out of the mix by the constant flow of rain. It will need to be replaced, whether it is slow realease or liquid.

2. The other reason is to keep up the nutrients that your tree requires under such ideal growing conditions. To have rain in the evening then sun during the day creates a very moist atmosphere which enhances growth.

I have been mowing every 2 days! There is a relatively short window for this type of rapid growth, don’t miss it.

It is important to understand the working of your fertilizers.

I have gone away from chemical fertilizers as I believe they can kill good organisms in the soil, and produce rank growth because of their high nitrogen content. This may look good initially but if you are just getting new leaf growth and not root growth, you will be stressing your tree. Also as I said by introducing chemicals constantly to your soil, you are creating an unhealthy environment for your tree. Unhealthy soil, unhealthy tree, and you invite all the bugs as this is what they will attack first, a weak tree.

As some of you may know, I use and sell healthy earth fertilizer. I am extremely happy with it, my trees have never been so healthy.

This is a completely organic based fertilizer feeding the whole tree, and doesn’t sterilize the soil. Also with this heat it is good to mix a bit of concentrated liquid seaweed with it. I have really watched some stock really struggle with heat stress. We really didn’t get a spring this year, just bang, straight into summer.


The annual Gold Coast Tweed Bonsai Club will be happening on the weekend of the 13th and 14th of November. This show is always fantastic! Chris Dinola will be doing demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday at 11.00 am.

This is a great way to be inspired and enthused, talk with other bonsai fanatics, and get new ideas for your trees. There is always some great stuff to buy.

I find shows like this really re-energize me, as I always go home with fresh ideas and insights. There is always plenty of people on hand to offer advice and suggestions

You are also able to join the club, or get details regarding its operation and meetings.

The price for admission is only $5, kids free.

It is held at the Robina Community Centre, Robina drive, next to the library.

Hours are 9.00 to 4.00 Saturday and Sunday.

Happy bonsai-ing

Chris and Sam

Monday, October 18, 2010

September 2010

Once again welcome to all the new readers of the newsletter. The growth of the popularity of bonsai never ceases to amaze me!

After months of no movement, no growth, everything is springing into new colour and growth. Some trees are a little late this year, a few of my liquid ambers have still not burst bud as of yet, whilst others are growing as you watch them.


All this new growth presents us with lots of opportunities. If allowed to grow feely your tree will probably lose its shape very quickly. The answer to this is obviously trimming and pruning.

Before I go any further, I will explain a method of creating thicker trunks on your trees during this increase in growth.

By allowing a branch which is either low to the ground, or even in the apex, to grow unhindered for a year or so without trimming, will create a much thicker trunk. This really is common sense, obviously the bigger a tree grows, the thicker the trunk required to support it. You can even take it out of its pot, put it in a nursery pot, or box, and whilst keeping aspects of the tree in shape, allow this new branch to extend.

The usual name for this branch is a “sacrifice branch”. The reason for this is that the branch is never intended to be a pert of the tree, but is grown to create thickness, and is later ”sacrificed”. Wherever the branch is left on, all below it will thicken. So if you just want to thicken the base choose a branch low down, if you want to thicken the whole trunk, choose a branch in the apex.

Now to shaping.

Different types of trees require different techniques when trimming.

Leafy varieties differ to junipers in the way we cut them. With trees like elms, figs privets etc, we can fairly freely snip away with our scissors, even cutting through the leaves in places with no ill effect. Many trees once they become thick, are cut just like a hedge. Once the clouds are created, just a trimming to keep the cloud shape is all that is needed.

Junipers on the other hand, are treated differently. If you were to just cut away with the scissors, within a week you will have a half brown, half green tree.

The reason for this is that most junipers grow in what is known as “whorls” This is where all the buds grow out at a single point, whereas most “leaf” trees grow either opposing or alternate buds.

So with the junipers, it is important to “pinch out the new growth to continue to encourage new growth which will produce your cloud like foliage pads.

Now if you look closely at a small part of your juniper that has been pinched out, you will see that the stem is made up of little scale like sheaves. This is where the dormant buds. Between 2-6 new buds will shoot from this point. After allowing them to grow say 20mm they are then pinched back and each of these will produce 2-6 more buds and so on.

If these are allowed to grow to long, die back will occur underneath where the sun or light is not getting to. If this has happened you will need to cut through these stems with scissors, or cutters. The whole pad should not be much thicker than 25mm or so.

The important thing to be doing at this time is pushing growth by fortnightly fertilizing. More growth, more trimming, more fertilizing, will develop your tree. Fertilizing is best done with little more often. We use recommend and sell “Healthy Earth fertilizer in both the slow release, and liquid. I should mention that at this time your tree needs maximum sun, but don’t forget to keep up the moisture. Junipers don’t like to be wet all the time, so let them become nearly dry.

Now your leafy varieties need trimming in different ways. You need to trim your branches to produce more branches. By trimming a tree, the hormone that is in the growing tip is gone therefore the tree will produce new buds further back down the branch. This is what we are after. Always cut 5-10 mm in front of the last bud. The reason for this is so as the last bud is not damaged. You can always go back later and cut of any little stubs. If you cut

to closely you may get die back and lose the bud you wanted for growth in that direction. Always cut to the direction that you want the branch to grow in. Allow the, new shoot to lignify (harden) before you cut it back.

KEEPING CLEAN!! Cleanliness is vital for the well being and health of your trees. This means keeping your growing area free from weeds (in pots as well as under your benches) and also your tools.

We would never use a instrument used on somebody and then use it on ourselves because of the danger of cross infection.

This means cleaning your tools clean (as well as keeping them sharp, as blunt tools will tear leaving damaged ends which are more likely to become infected) and free from rust and sap.

There is a product called “Crean mate” (yes I know bit of a giggle, a slight oversight in the Japanese translation) this block is a rubberized abrasive piece used for cleaning the blades of all your tools. The one I use is probably 5 years old so they do last quite a long time.

We are selling more and more of these now as people are becoming more aware of the need for clean tools. Often this comes about after seemingly “unexplainable” die back on a tree.

Well hope some of this information helps you, but remember to let me know some suggestions on what you would like to read.

August 2010

Welcome to all the newcomers of the newsletter. I hope you find it instructional and inspirational!! I am amazed at the constant increase of new proponents to the art!


I don’t know if its our culture, or our technological age we live in but too often I hear people talking about bonsai as if it is an exact science!

To start with, there are some things in nature we will never understand. Even the best horticulturists will tell you they still don’t fully understand the working of soil and tree together.

Often when a tree “passes” we try and find the reason, but sometimes there is just no good reason we can find! Don’t get caught up with making it an absolute science like maths! You will be disappointed, and have missed the essence of bonsai.

Bonsai is both horticulture and art combined. It is working with material that never presents exactly the same as the last one you did.

For some reason we are so persistent in creating something because we think this is the direction it should go (according to something we have read.)

Be bold enough and game enough to begin to follow your creative instincts, sure use good horticultural guidelines, but beyond this just as they say “have a go”

Read as much as possible, glean as much information as possible, do all you can to fill your mind with images of your beloved hobby, but then as you shape, let the mixtures of the images begin to dictate to you the shape. Things such as balance, and space will become obvious.

Bonsai is not about rules! We are not building a mechanical object! Rules are there for guidelines, they had a purpose in the beginning, and its understanding is vital for the success in bonsai.

Too many people bend down to have a close look at a bonsai and stand up with a look of intelligence on their face to proclaim “Its wrong, the first branch is a back branch”. I swear if I hear someone make a statement like this again, I will scream!

The next book you are reading on bonsai you will find somewhere in the book, how the tree should have a left, right and a back branch radiating up the tree. Now go through the pictures of the book and find how many follow this pattern!

This layout is a guideline, not a rule. I have seen trees that people have forced branches to fit the criteria, and they look ridiculous.

Trees have branches at different heights and different levels because that is how a tree grows naturally. Branches will grow into the most optimal position to gain light. (this is a brief explanation)

If we are to develop both our personal and corporate world of bonsai then we need to both encourage and attempt to develop new styles, and techniques.

We must welcome the newcomer, and not baffle him/her with science and rules, but impart some enthusiasm that will inspire.

We need to “unveil” the mysteries that are so readily propagated by the few, to help people understand that bonsai is not some mysterious thing, some freak of nature, but are at the end of the day, just trees in pots! Lets not be so precious about the whole thing.

People have told me after I have complimented them on an aspect of their tree, asking how it was achieved, only to be told it was a secret!

Bonsai has a long history, and its journey has crossed many lands and cultures. It is reputed to have started in China (maybe even earlier in India) and eventually to Japan.

Pensai from China has a distinctly different look from the bonsai from Japan. Pensai has its early roots (sorry for the pun) in China and was more to do with landscapes in pots.

Whether you like Japanese or Chinese style of bonsai, doesn’t really matter, its about enjoying the art form. They are both legitimate.

There is a respect for its origins and respect for its originators.

If we allow, and indeed encourage those coming into the hobby, especially the young, we will be part of the evolution of bonsai. Bonsai styles are not fixed in time, there are guidelines to be followed, but it will continue to change and develop.

The greatest problem we face as we get older is the ability to change. We fear change around us because we don’t like the rules being changed.

The spirit of bonsai is not precious, it has humility at its heart because it doesn’t know everything. It s encouraging, it imparts all the knowledge it has, its not envious, but appreciative of others achievements.

Probably as Australians, indeed Queenslanders, we have a unique opportunity to develop the art of Bonsai. Our climate is so different, our species are different, even our climate is different.

What will happen with Australian natives? I know we are using them to some degree, but how far are we willing to go? Do we try and shape them into traditional shapes, or do we try and follow the shape of trees around us?

If we allow this sort of development in bonsai then we will all be the richer for it. Maybe everything wont work, but we wont know until we try.

We cant be rigid in all we do, otherwise we will become stuck in time.

Maybe if you feel like you are getting stale with your bonsai, its time to try something different. Go somewhere you haven’t gone before, stretch yourself!!

If we keep this type of mindset, we will be more tolerant of others, we wont be envious, and will ensure the future of one of the worlds greatest hobbies!!


I have really taken to swamp cypress as a bonsai, both as an individual tree, and as group plantings.

The Taxodium genus consists of only two species, Taxodium distichum/ The Swamp Cypress and Taxodium ascendens/ The Pond Cypress. Both a suitable for bonsai cultivation though it is the Swamp Cypress that is more commonly seen.

The Swamp Cypress is an upright, conical, monoecious, deciduous or semi-evergreen coniferous tree found in swampy forest or by river margins from SE USA to Guatemala. In its native habitat it can reach heights of 20-40 metres. Though often found growing in wet, swampy soils, the Swamp Cypress also grows well in relatively dry soils. In wet soil conditions, Swamp Cypress develop aerial roots known as 'knees' or pneumatophores at water level.


POSITION Full sun. Fully hardy to -10°C.

WATERING Swamp Cypress should be kept moist at all times as they are thirsty trees. Although Swamp Cypress are able to adapt to wet, swampy soils it is not necessary or beneficial to stand them permanently in water.

FEEDING Swamp Cypress are very vigorous growers and require regular feeding every one or two weeks with a balanced feed.

REPOTTING Repotting should be carried out annually in Spring as new buds extend. Use a soil that is able to retain water but is still fast draining.

PRUNING Pinch out new shoots throughout the growing season to keep in shape. Hard pruning can be carried out in late Winter; this commonly results in prolific budding from the trunk.

WIRING Care should be taken when wiring, as these trees are fast growing and wires will damage the bark if not removed quickly enough. If possible use guy wires to pull down the branches.

PROPAGATION Cuttings at most times of the year and air layering in late Spring.


STYLING Formal and informal upright forms, slanting and literati, twin-trunk and group forms in all sizes.


These trees are best suited to a more of an artistic approach to bonsai. Many of these trees are used by the Japanese to do what is known as ‘Mame’, or ‘Shohin’ bonsai. These are miniature bonsai done in small pots accentuating the flowers and/or fruit.

The cut leaf mulberry’s have a very small leaf but heaps of fruit. We still have a few mulberry’s left but the bigger ones got snapped up pretty quickly.

Happy Bonsai-ing

Chris and Sam

July 2010

Well things are starting to move already and potting time is here. We will still get some cold snaps, but all your deciduous trees are asleep so they wont know a thing!


You should be preparing to repot all your trees soon. (This is assuming you are in Qld.) We are in the process of repotting the entire nursery. 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. Also the bulk of the pot will have filled up with new roots so there is little room left for new roots to develop and water retention is very difficult. 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?


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!

Its also worth noting that whilst you are trimming your trees to keep your tools sharp and clean. If your tools are blunt they may appear to be cutting but in actual fact be crushing the branchlets. This will cause die back, back up the branch. Also a cleaning block will keep rust and sap of your tools, as it is very easy to transmit virus or disease from tree to tree. These blocks are designed to eliminate this.

See you all soon,
Happy bonsai-ing,
Chris and Sam

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 2010

Well the cold snap had to come! Enjoy this time of the year, there is much to see and learn during this period

Colour can be spectacular in winter, I have added a couple of shots of some maples here at the nursery.

Sometimes this can be a good time to select stock as you can see its full winter colour as trees can differ from each other even in the same species. The reason is that they may come from different root stock.

In life all things have seasons, let your trees have a good rest, don’t try and push new growth to early.

Remember to apply liquid potash to all your flowering and fruiting trees every 2 to 3 weeks for a great spring look! As soon as flowers appear stop using the potash.


I know I speak on watering frequently but it is a vital area to healthy growth.

As the days and nights become cooler, your trees will need less water because of 2 reasons:

1. Because the temperatures are lower, there is less transpiration in progress (Water leaving the plant through the leaves) and

2. Less to no root growth, which is the conduit for moisture.

If we are to ignore these factors, are trees will become constantly wet, and therefore be exposed to root rot etc. Remember trees in pots are different to those growing in the ground. Tees in the ground have areas of excess water run-off, and are therefore not so much under threat.

Allow your tree to nearly dry out before rewatering. It is having its well earned rest!


Now is a good time to clean out all the areas where your Bonsai are displayed. You will have a lot less to do, so now is a good time for some tidying up.

Reconsider where you have your trees, have they been getting enough light, are they in an awkward position, are they displayed to their best advantage?

Maybe now is the time to build or extend your racks, design bit of a Japanese garden around them, and create a bit of “ambience”

Another thing that you can do in winter is take advantage of the sparseness of growth on your deciduous trees, and reshape and rewire them. Because most of the leaves will have fallen by now, you have a much clearer view of the tree. You may even see a new shape from branches that have been growing disguised behind the foliage.

This is also a great time for rewiring, not as many leaves to get in the way! Always make sure your trees are on the dry side before wiring.

If they have just been watered, they are more likely to be brittle and snap easily. This may sound strange, but picture a stick of celery, when is it easier to snap, when it is full of moisture, or a week old? Don’t learn the hard way!

It is also a good time to cut back you elms. When I say cut back, I mean cut back. Be ruthless! (I obviously don’t mean to cut of branches, but be quite severe on all your branchlets. Elms and maples respond well to heavy pruning this time of the year. You will be rewarded with abundant new growth in spring. This will lead to greater branch ramification, which can be a winter highlight on these trees.

Reading, be inspired!

Winter is a great time to get some reading done. Now you have a bit more time use it to advance your knowledge in both horticultural and artistry. The library has some great books you can borrow on bonsai, so it wont even cost you anything!

Just remember that most books are written in the northern hemisphere, so don’t be fooled by the seasons, and type of trees they may have.

Bonsai is universal though and many of the principles are the same regardless of where you live.

We still have a few books left but in limited stock, Master Class, Shohin Bonsai, and a great book on Penjing. We always have stock of Bonsai its Art Science and Philosophy which is Australian and a brilliant book.

I lent a book recently to a friend who read about the creation of smaller trees. It inspired him to look for something that he could work on that would give him a massive trunk in a small tree. After talking for a while I showed him some average size maples, but showed him branches low down on the trunk that will allow the tree to be cut right down, just leaving a short but heavy trunk. The tree will only be 150-180mm high but has a trunk 50mm thick. This looks stunning.

(I have included a picture of a crab apple I am doing for myself after having done what I have explained above)

To often we try and use every part of the tree. Whilst we wont have an instant Bonsai, we will have an awesome specimen in a couple of years, whilst the other way we will only have a less than satisfying tree. People find it hard to spend $50 or$100 and cut the whole thing down to a stump. But remember, it has been left to grow so as it develops a good strong trunk, the top of the tree is superfluous! The bonsai is in the bottom of the tree. You need to look for it!


It is ok to start repotting any of your deciduous trees now. Your trees are in what is called a dormant period, it is like they are asleep, so doing them now is fine (this is for Queenslanders only, if you are in a colder place maybe leave it for another 4 weeks)

Take the time to refine the tree before repotting. Most deciduous trees really appreciate a good hard prune this time of the year. It will produce far better

ramification of the tree as it ages. Cutting back hard will cause the internodes to be closer which will then develop finer branching.

Again take the time to wire or rewire wherever necessary, it is so much easier to work on a defoliated tree. Just remember that the branches will need to be checked regularly in spring to watch for wire cutting in.

We have changed our supplier of potting mix after the company began to cut corners with the ingredients and quality dropped dramatically. The guy who used to do the mixing also left, and being a horticulturist, new our needs and had done a great job for the last 5 years. So our new mix is really impressive, we have been having good success with it. Currently it only comes in 12ltr bags and is well priced.

Take the time, become more educated, be inspired to go further and higher in Bonsai. Be challenged, be stretched, enjoy yourself, remember, this life is not a rehearsal, it’s the real thing!

Happy Bonsai-ing.

May 2010


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!!

Happy Bonsai-ing


April 2010


Now is the time to start watering your flowering and fruiting trees with Liquid potash. It is also available in a granular form but a friend told me about the liquid as it is much easier to use. This can be both watered and sprayed onto your trees. Do it every 2 weeks until flowering next spring. It is very high in potassium which is the goodies you need for fruit and flowers.

It Is N 0%, P 4%, K 20%.

It is available at most Bunnings or nurseries.


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.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bonsai March 2010


Just remember that because the growing season seems to be over not to neglect your trees especially when it comes to wire. During this time of the year, often your trunk and branches will continue to thicken up. One reason is the optimal temperatures (they are very much like spring) the other is that the tree is starting to store all its goodies before winter in preparation for next spring. For this reason wire can start to cut in quite easily and leave nasty scars. Just check all your trees and have a close look to make sure wire doesn’t need to come of. Keep this in mind if you are currently wiring your tree, it will need to be checked in a month or so.

Another thing to remember at the moment is to not do anymore trimming on your azaleas. All your new flower buds will have formed, and if you cut them you wont have any flowers!

In regard to flowers and fruit, don’t forget to start using liquid potash once a fortnight to produce an abundance of beautiful fruit and flowers come spring.

Its also time to move your deciduous trees into more sun. This will give greater colour as autumn approaches.


I have never had so many enquiries regarding pests since we have been here at the nursery. The most frequent species have been elms and junipers. Most of them arrive either very brown, or having dropped most of their leaves. The problem seems to been prompted by the high humidity (I think) and we saw a mass of infestation of white louse scale, spider mite, and some other nasties. Most trees had the tell tale signs of very fine spider webs. The worst affected trees were those trees that had been neglected, and or had been over watered, under watered and not given enough sun. Problems will always occur when a tree is neglected. Nature will just do its job and remove the weakest tree.

The best all round treatment is either “Folimat” or “Confidor”. These come in aerosol cans and will effectively treat the pests mentioned. What is important is to follow the directions on the can and reapply again in 7 to 10 days. This will ensure that any hatching “critters” will also be dealt with. Hold the can at least 25cm’s from the tree as the aerosol can burn foliage.


At this time of the year it is worth checking your junipers for old needles under heavy growth that have died of from not getting enough light. This is only natural as the needles cannot work economically if they are receiving no sun because of the new growth that has formed on top of it. The growth on a juniper should not be much longer than 25 – 30 mm’s, any longer and it will get leggy. The reason for cleaning out this old dead growth is to keep the tree clean and not supply or encourage pests to take up residence using the old needles for their home!

Using a chopstick or similar object get in underneath and stir around until you see the old needles falling. You want to be able to see the branches and branchlets, free from any collecting debris. You may even notice small cocoons with little grey worms in them, these guys will really mess your tree up. Hold your tree up and look underneath, you may be surprised what you can see!!

Another thing to do is when you are watering, aim a strong jet of water up under the foliage pads as this will also blast a lot of the dead foliage out. Doing this will keep your tree healthy as the more air you can get moving around and through the tree will keep it much healthier.


As we move into the cooler months you are able to repot any trees that may have been missed in spring.

The thing that needs to be remembered is not to take to much of the root system as it may not have sufficient time to fully redevelop before winter sets in.

Autumn temperatures are very similar to spring, that is why we are able to repot at this time of the year. Always remove some foliage to lessen the demands on the reduced root system. Keep the tree in some shade for a week to give it a chance to recuperate.

There are some trees that are best left until spring to repot though. Unless you are very confident to do so leave your black pines, azaleas, cedars, etc.

These trees may not respond with new roots before winter and thus not have the ability to sustain the tree.


I know we have had lots of rain but as I have warned in the past, be diligent to keep the water up even after the rain. The reason being is that most trees have been in greater water take up since all this heavy rain. This is all right if the trees are in the ground but trees in pots will quickly run out of water. You need to help them reduce back to the normal uptake, so just keep your eyes on them when the sun comes out again.

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos form the exhibition in China.

These are done as landscapes on marble trays. (we carry these)

Happy bonsai-ing


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 2010

I cannot stress enough the importance of vigilance with looking after your trees.
Now is a good time to take a different type of approach to your trees and their setting. We are probably in the midst of our summer dormancy at the moment.

In summer without the rain we just have hot days, and this leads to dormancy in many of your trees. They just stop growing! The reason for this is that the tree stops producing new soft growth

As it would just get burnt of with the heat. This means whilst we have steady hot periods without extended it is not worth fertilizing most trees. (Trees such as junipers and pines are an exception). You are just wasting fertilizer as it just sits in the pot. What can be dangerous is by keeping up the fertilizing, you push your trees to produce new growth, (as most fertilizer is high in nitrogen which produces leaf growth) and this new growth will badly burn, making the tree look ordinary or worse killing it all together. You are making your tree work hard to produce new growth without the necessary corresponding root growth. Therefore the new leaves have nothing to sustain them! You should keep up the liquid fertilizer especially if you are using organic types such as healthy earth, which we stock here.
Take the time to inspect your trees carefully. Things like weeds in the pots, bugs or other problems such as disease, are more easily spotted when you are looking for them! Don’t let a withering branch be the first indication of problems!
Cleanliness is next to Godliness, so keep your pots and surrounding areas clean and free from old leaves and needles and any other rubbish that may affect your trees.

I see so many trees with problems that could have been avoided with a little maintenance. Bugs and disease will always attack weak and unkempt trees. Nature has its way of dealing with things that are weak, destroy them!

One of the hardest aspects with bonsai is waiting for the development of trees. One of the ways around this is not to start with very immature trees. This can actually work against you so that you eventually are no longer interested in bonsai.

I have included a picture of an old maple of mine. This is about 38 years old but the branching has only been growing for 2 seasons. Using mature material will get you much quicker results. Now you don’t have to go out and spend $5-6000 on a trunk! Smaller material material will develop just as quickly but it’s a matter of spending $50-$100 and cutting the trunk right back. Give it a couple of growing seasons and hey presto something that looks really nice.

I always tell people if they want to take this approach I am more than willing to choose stock that will produce good trees. Its about looking down lower in the trees.

I have also included a picture of an old Chinese elm that I have spent 2 years on. This was about 1 meter tall, and I just cut it back to nothing, a bit of carving and look at the result. It measures about 60cm tall with a 28cm trunk! This is great fun and gives a real sense of achievement.

With bending, don’t think it all has to be done at the one go. You can bend a branch over an entire season. The best way to do this is, once having rapia’d the branch and wired it, connect a loop of wire past the point that you want bent, and fix it to a opposite side of the tree, something to gain leverage from. You are then able to twist the wire slowly, maybe a turn every second day, until you have the desired bend. Leave this for a full growing season. For older trees, you may need to leave them for 2 – 3 years.

Whilst talking about bending, I saw an interesting article the other day on it. Instead of just bending the branch with both hands, twist the branch first with both hands until you crack the cambium. Often a crack can be heard. (This is before applying raphia) What this does is instead of putting the pressure across the cambium, it puts it along the branch instead. It is like hundreds of strands slightly separating, but not actually breaking as a branch does straight across.

Pots, Pots Pots!
We are just unloading 15 tonnes of new pots! We really do pride ourselves in some of the stock we are getting. We are doing this by actually visiting the factories and carefully choosing pots that we think are unique and affordable. Also by doing this we are able to keep the prices to minimum by dealing directly with the various potters. We have been importing for 4 years now and I think we are getting the hang of it!
I have included a few pics to wet your appetite!

Anyway hope some of this helps!!
See you all soon,
Happy bonsai-ing!