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!