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.

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