Club Meeting September 2014

by Jurie van Heerden

Jurie welcomed all members to the club meeting and announced the apologies from Dorothy Franz Trevor Venables and Yvonne Romyn.

Jurie discussed 2 books that he recently purchased at Exclusive Books, they are:

  1. The Living art of Bonsai – Principles & Techniques of Cultivation & Propagation by Professor Amy Liang,
  2. Bonsai – Techniques, styles & display ideas by Peter Warren.

Jan-Jurie Loots started a talk on the root reduction of stock junipers and explained that it is important to divide the root ball into 3 sections when you removed the tree from the black bag or container.

He continued to explain to remove the bottom third of the root ball, only clean the middle third and leave the top third of the root ball for the best chance of a good recovery of the tree.

It is very important to mist the tree after root pruning and also important to keep the roots wet and not allow it too dry out completely.

The particular tree in the demonstration used by Jan-Jurie was a juniperus chinensis.

Freddie also mentioned that with yamadori stock transplanting you must try and keep as much of the growth points but you can then remove branches where need be for the best results – he also further mentioned that for best results on this particular tree its best to perform the transplanting during early spring.

Jan-Jurie stressed that you must keep the reported tree in shade for at least 4 weeks and then, over a period of 2 weeks, move the tree back into garden.

Also, it is referable too frequently dunk the tree into water once a month during summer.

The Judges choice & group discussion was run by Terry Erasmus which commented that he hope to use the session as constructive and not to be too critical.

Terry discussed a very nice saikei with stunning rock formation from Peter Bruyns with various club members which provided their input and comments.

The next saikei was from Vicky Petermann which was also discussed by the members.

The last discussed was a tree from Jan-Jurie Loots which Terry felt should have its branches more downwards to indicate age – a good discussion followed after which Terry closed the judges choice.

Peter Bruyns introduced the Saikei Lecture and explained that he thinks of saikei as potted landscapes which he finds extremely beautiful and inspiring.

He also discussed a desert scene saikei which he said was also a beautiful example of the landscape display.

He explained further that the naming in Japanese is saikei and in Chinese is penjing which translates to Tree and Land and Water and Land. Peter also displayed pictures of various penjing examples and discussed the each in detail.

He then asked the question "Why Saikei and Penjing?" and explained that it was penjing that first interested him before started his bonsai journey and the penjing landscapes had a very spiritual impression on him.

Peter discussed a penjing landscape he brought for the lecture and explained how he first made the stairway and benches from bees wax, then created molds and then finally molded the stairway and benches displayed in the penjing.

Peter explained further how you can create the impression of depth and the techniques to achieved this, he further discussed and explained concepts of depth and size and using vanishing points to illustrate the concepts. Also, how to create depth, color and texture by using sand and stones.

Lastly, Peter discussed the very famous landscape called "The Milky way waterfall" created by Qiao Honggen - also used the Lijiang river scene and an old tree over a pond scene for discussion.

Jurie closed the meeting.




Club Meeting August 2014

by Jurie van Heerden

Jurie welcomed all members to the club meeting and announced the apologies from Dorothy Franz and Tony Bent and also that a new visitor joined the meeting called Dawie de Klerk.

First on the list was Jan Jurie Loots who managed the Library slot and spoke about a book called "Mission of Transformation" by Robert Stevens.

The next speaker was Freddie Bisschoff who spoke about modern growing mediums.

Freddie started the presentation with the question "What is the ideal bonsai soil?" He said that people in the bonsai community all have different opinions what the ideal bonsai mix should be and have different mixtures.

The next question Freddie asked was "Is there an ideal bonsai soil mixture and what makes a good bonsai soil?"

He went on to say that bonsai soil should have good drainage and must have some water retention. Freddie said that he has been using a mix consisting of 3 parts compost, 2 parts sand and 3 parts fine rocks for the last 2 years as it worked for him in the Cape Town climate.

The feedback that Freddie received during Walter Pall's last visit to South Africa was that Walter tries to avoid the word bonsai "soil" because according to him there is no soil in the modern bonsai substrate.

Freddie added that your whole bonsai substrate must be loose evenly in your bonsai pot and must be of equal particle size, have the ability to absorb water and release it back, have no fine particle organic material, must not decompose easily and be as lightweight as possible when dry.

Some modern bonsai substrates are lava, baked loam, zeolite and chabasai (leca is part of this group). According for Walter, he uses crushed leca with very rough peat mixture for his bonsai substrate.

Freddie opened a discussion with members of their experiences with Leca - Carl Morrow mentioned that his experience with leca was that his small bonsais died but he does use it with his larger bonsai.

It was mentioned that leca must be crushed to make it a better substrate and it is important when using leca to change your feeding and watering regime due to the consistency of the substrate.

Some key aspects with watering your bonsai in leca substrate is that you must water aggressively and it is very easy to underwater your bonsai.

Some feeding facts to take notice of are to feed your bonsai with lots of nitrogen and according to Freddie, Walter feeds his bonsais 20 to 60 times more than the average bonsai grower.

Freddie closed his presentation by thanking all for their time.

The Judge's choice and group discussion was managed by Rudi and he discussed and gave his opinion on some of the trees from the display.

The next speaker introduced was Gail Theron who was going to speak about Casuarinas as bonsai.

Gail started the presentation by showing incredible specimen of casuarinas as bonsai and discussed with the club members their thoughts.

Gail mentioned the common names as Sheoak, Australian Pine, Whistling Pine, Horse Tail Tree, Beefwood, Ironwood and Buddha Pine, further more Casuarinas are a warm weather species native to Australia, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii, Florida, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Africa, and some parts of China and Japan.

The wood of this tree is used for building-timber, furniture, shingles, fencing and tools and makes excellent hot burning firewood. The tree's root nodules are known to fix nitrogen, and it is traditionally prized for its ability to increase the soil's fertility. Its abundant leaf-fall is high in nitrogen and traditionally prized for mulch. The resin exuded from some Casuarinas are edible and is a food source for Aboriginal people. All parts of the Casuarina tree (needles, sawdust, bark, and prepared mulch) can be useful in lowering the soil pH. Lowering soil pH makes the soil more acidic, ideal for acid-loving plants such as azaleas.

Gail spoke further about the fruit, roots and some positive factors like flexibility and rapid growth for bonsai and then took the members through more photographs of bonsai using casuarinas. Gail closed the presentation by thanking everyone for their time.

Jurie closed the meeting.




Club Meeting June 2014

by Dorothy Franz

Jurie opened the meeting by welcoming the members and thanking them for the wonderful display of trees brought to the meeting. He thanked Francois Voges for organising a display of about 20 trees at the Waterstone Village Centre in Somerset West. Francois had used all his powers of persuasion to get the Centre to allow an exhibition. They were so impressed that he has been asked to organise another for arbor week. He also thanked Terry for his demonstration during the day and the participants in the New Talent Competition, won by Andries Havenga.

Jurie started with the library slot. He had just read the latest edition of Bonsai Focus (no. 151) to which the club subscribes. He drew our attention to the article on Pines as well as the one on refining Satsuki Azaleas and another article entitled "starting over". In the same edition there was a discussion on whether photographs should be banned at exhibitions.

Jan-Jurie brought a Chinese juniper for his conversion from bush to bonsai which at the end of the meeting he brought back beautifully wired into a semi-cascade.

Cindy gave us a photographic overview of the club dig. She had thoroughly enjoyed the day. She said one didn't have to dig very hard because the ground was soft. It is a beautiful site and she hoped that another dig can be arranged for next year.

Tony gave a very informative power point presentation on African Styles based primarily on Charles Ceronio's book. He pointed out how the styles differed from one another. He considered the tree main styles to be Baobab, Pierneef and Flat Top. Baobab - has girth and branches curving downwards. One can use Commiphora, or coral tree to achieve this. The Pierneef style is more like an open umbrella – Acacia being the main example in nature but One can achieve this style with elms, olives and buddleja. The flat top has a layer of dense foliage at the top forming the flat top. A wonderful example can be seen at the entrance of the Pretoria Botanical gardens. The other African styles are the wonderboom, wild fig and natural style.

Trevor was the judge for the evening. He brought up two trees belonging to Gail, two from Kevin and one from Viky. There was discussion whether Gail's tree was a natural style or Pierneef. Kevin had a very pleasant spekboom (three trunks) that could develop into a good baobab style. Viky's tree was a beautifully carved shohin olive.

The main talk was by Viky pointing out all the winter tasks that we should be tackling contrary to the belief that there is nothing to do in winter. She said that deciduous trees must be attended to now to reduce apical dominance, develop ramification and sort out design. Working on deadwood could be done now and in stages as this allows for wood to dry out slowly which avoids cracking.

This is a time for planning, reading and developing new ideas also for sharpening tools, cleaning bed and preparing for the potting season. As this is the rainy season one needed to check that trees were not getting waterlogged in which case tipping the pot would allow water to run off. Trees that were under canopies of larger trees also needed to be checked that they were getting sufficient water.


Club Meeting July 2014

by Jurie van Heerden

Jurie welcomed all members to the club meeting.

First on the list was Phil Levitt who described how he was going to transform a SYZIGIUM PANICULATUM bush into a bonsai. He also showed some photos of stunning Syzigium bonsais from various artists.

The next presenter was Dorothy Franz who spoke on Azaleas. She showed some photos of Kurume Azaleas and explained that they are grown for their small flowers. Dorothy said that the Satsuki Azalea means fifth moon in Japanese explaining "Sat" means fifth and "Suki" means moon and that the Satsuki flowers can be a variety of colours from Red to pink. She further explained that that the Kurume is more available and that the Satsuki are rarer in South Africa and have bigger flowers than the Kurume.

Some of the better characteristics of Azaleas are that they have good nebari, trunks and are easily available in nurseries and are not usually prone to pests. They also propagate easily.

Some of the bad traits of Azaleas are that they do not adapt to new soil, they are difficult to wire as they mature. They also have a thin bark and invariably have a weak apex.

Dorothy further explained that azaleas require cool and wind-free areas for best growth and should not be allowed to flower if the tree is weak. Also do not allow many flowers on the apex as this is the weakest part of the tree.

It is important to remember that when removing the flowers you must also remove the seed pods. Remember new flowers buds set in summer and that you feed up to the start of flowering and then cease while the tree is in flower.

The Judge's choice was done by Rudi Adam and he had various trees selected and gave his feedback on the trees and took questions from the rest of the members.

Terry Erasmus presented Maples and described Maples as his favoured tree– he calls it the prince of deciduous bonsais. He described a characteristic of maples is to have a strong nebari. The trunks are very muscular, powerful and lean towards Sumo style. The leaf colours are very intense during seasons with stunning red in autumn.

Terry said that in Japan the Japanese display maples in winter to show the ramification.

Terry explained that he wanted to talk more on the techniques of what he has learned in Japan and started with repotting and described the different reporting techniques he was taught. He further explained soil mixes to better assist the maple growth and that sealing of cuts was unnecessary. Securing trees in pots after repotting was necessary.

He also described grafting like thread (hole through the trunk) and approach (groove in trunk) grafting, how to defoliate your tree to produce smaller leaves and to analyse how your branch structure looks and how to allow sunlight to penetrate into the canopy to produce healthier inner leaves. He highlighted the importance of defoliation and that it could be done up to 3 times per year. General pruning must be done in summer to get back-budding when the tree is at its strongest.

On wiring and styling - Terry mentioned that wiring can be done along with defoliation and you should not do any spot wiring - styling can be done through the clip-and-grow method and there are 3 stages: Raw material, 2. Branch development and 3. Refinement and maintenance.

With wire removal you should do this in spring for mature trees and late autumn for younger trees. You should cut the wire to prevent damage to the branches. Terry explained that you must seal major cuts on maples to prevent the air from drying the exposed trunk scar tissue. Terry also described the acrylic sealant that he uses to apply to the open cuts and the general uses.

For fertilizing you must give lots of fertilizer to younger trees, minimal fertilizer for mature trees and no fertilizer in winter.

Lastly, Terry summed up the whole maple season for repotting, grafting, styling, pruning and wiring.

Phil Levitt was the last presenter and gave feedback on the Syzigium bush to bonsai progression.


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Club Meeting May 2014

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Tenderly, lovingly

raking up dead leaves

in his Bonsai forest

Random Bonsai Tip

Where the primary branch is thinner than the secondary one, prune back the secondary hard, keep it trimmed back and allow the primary branch to grow unhindered until it has thickened.