Club Meeting April 2013

by Pieter Loots

Good day dear members, hope you are all doing well and are enjoying the bright colors of autumn. We had quite a pleasant club meeting this month.

First off we had DJ Visser who spoke about White and Black fly, both can thrive when weather is hot, left unchecked and no pest control are in place. So please look under your leaves especially olives if you see any white fly.

Then Terry gave a very informative talk about building stands, giving us an easy guide to building a cheap yet sturdy and effective bonsai stand.

Next up we had a lucky draw with some nice tools from Japan, there were a pair of scissors, a branch cutter and a large concave cutter up for grabs – all this for R10 a ticket per item and you could buy as many as you want. There will be more lucky draws over the next few months, prizes include more tools, bonsai trees, pots and more. Be sure to bring some money with to the next meeting.

Feedback on the New Talent Competition 2013 which took place at Kirstenbosch over Easter: our club had 3 entries, Amith who came second, Jan-Jurie who came third and DJ Visser. The competition was won by Alex Rodewald from Boland Bonsai Kai.

Congratulations to all who took part!

At last we had Francois who spoke on Cedars. The sub species mostly used for bonsai is Lebani, Atlantica and Deodar. Francois brought with a very nice large Cedar Deodar which was styled in an African style. In nature cedars grow top heavy and quite often have multiple trunks. He suggested that we, as South African growers, should focus more on indigenous styles. He quoted Kimura saying bonsai growers should use species and styles from there home countries to specialize our art more. Cedars like well draining soil, Francois uses river sand and compost, and he told us they love high nitrogen feeding. He also recommends using Koinor every 3 months. When he repots he removes old roots but always leaves at least one third of the roots. Francois also suggests whenever removing a branch rather leave it as a jin, as this specie grows quite heavy calluses. When you wire branches check them regularly and keep out of full sun when wired. He prunes his branches when they reach 10 centimeters. He also mentioned that they take quite well to air layering.

The meeting was very informative and quite exciting with the lucky draw, thank you for all who attended. I hope to see more faces next month.



Club Meeting February 2013

by Terry Erasmus

Jan-Jurie was the first speaker of the evening and he spoke on beetles. It was an interesting overview of the many different kinds of beetles which we as bonsai artists would typically find on our trees. Some suggestions were made regarding their control.

Johan had excused himself from the meeting, not feeling well. So Terry gave us the history of a Celtis which he had been working on for some time. He had kept a small photographic record of the trees development over the last few years which gave the audience an idea of the trees improvement over time. Terry gave some comments regarding his experience working with this species. Of the comments made he suggested that when the tree is young the growth is rather explosive and that if left unchecked will result in a lot of wasted growth due to excessively long internodal distances. He stressed the importance also of complete defoliation and aggressive feeding as a method to increase ramification. Another technique, thread grafting, had also been used on the tree to achieve a branch in a place where there was none previously. Many of the members were quite fascinated with this technique and were keen to learn more about it.

The judges for the evening were Rudi and Terry. The committee had decided to implement a new approach to judging ie a junior member being teamed up with a senior who could then begin to train the junior in judging. Terry selected a Crassula forest to comment on. He highlighted the aspects which were pleasing, such as the health of the trees and their flowers. He also commented on the pot as well as its preparation to display. On the negative side, comments were made about the inappropriate use of ground covers and the regular spacing of the trees. Rudi commented on a juniper which he really liked and discussed some of the positive aspects of the trees styling.

Being the subject of the evening; Junipers, Rudi then went on to deliver an interesting talk on growing junipers as bonsai. This species is clearly a favourite not only in South Africa but internationally also. The growth characteristics, basic care and styling aspects were discussed and illustrated using the many stunning examples which Rudi had brought with him. After Rudi's talk was completed, the membership broke away to work on the trees which they had brought to the evening.



Club Meeting November 2012

by Dorothy Franz

Terry welcomed all members and guests and after a few housekeeping announcements the meeting opened with Trevor's very informative talk on mites.

He pointed out that mites differed from insects. Insects belonged to the family of spiders. Plant mites are very small and sometimes difficult to spot. One way is to put a sheet of white paper under a branch, then tap the branch and see what falls out. If anything moves you have mites. They suck the sap form leaves, are active during warm weather and often hide on the underside of the leaf. Although there are natural predators e.g. lady birds etc. control is still necessary. This is best done with oil based insecticides. Spraying needs to be repeated after about 10 days to ensure that all eggs have been killed.

Jan-jurie followed with suggestion on how to look after ones trees during holidays. One method is to dunk trees and bring them indoors where temperatures are more controlled. This works well if one is going away for a couple of days. If going on holiday for a longer period, one can teach a reliable person to water one's trees, one can rely on a tested sprinkle system or alternatively take one's trees to one of our professional bonsai nurseries.

As the judge for the evening, Rudi chose a delightful tree belonging to Viky and a well- designed tree form Johan Lotz.

Terry then presented a history of his fig. He felt the fig still needed to fill out. He showed us a very small pot in which the tree was first planted. Soon after, he planted it in a much bigger pot giving it plenty of bounce back.

By a series of pictures he showed us the progress of the tree through the years. Terry encouraged members to take photographs of their trees yearly. This gives one inspiration. He pointed out that if one wishes to use a rock, one should have the final picture in mind so that the correct sized rock is chosen. He recommended fertilizing well in autumn and winter pruning.

Carl gave the main talk on figs. He referred members to Mr. Cheng's website. He had found a great deal of information especially on the Taiwanese Fig (ficus mycrocarpa). He noted that figs grown too quickly can develop very coarse growth. Growing figs more gradually encouraged the development of side branches and seemed to curb the loss of branches and weakening the apex.

By using the computer he showed how he had taken a picture of his fig and then superimposed all the different lines of the tree. This enabled him to identify which lines he wished to keep in his design and which needed to be discarded.

His demo tree was chosen because of the dynamic tensions within the tree which he found exciting especially the exposed root. He eliminated the unwanted branches and then placed the others in the correct position. His aim was to achieve an open design. He pointed out that it was generally accepted that one did not have to seal cuts on figs. Hennie suggested that sealing large cuts helped healing. Carl then offered several possible pot choices. Finally he settled on a light brown Chinese pot with elegant feet.



Club Meeting January 2013

by Dorothy Franz

Terry welcomed the members and four guests and gave a quick overview of what was being planned for the coming year. He thanked Viky for her contribution in collating and sending the newsletter for many years and advised that Jan-jurie had volunteered to take this over from her.

After showing us a small forest planting he had put together, Ken Freeman gave us insight into what ants are about particularly as far as bonsai is concerned. He told us that they love aphids. If you notice ants around your tree, look for aphids. Also pick up your pots and make sure that the ants are not building themselves a nest in your pot. They love sweetness and tend to concentrate where there is water.

Trevor, the judge for the evening brought up a Milkwood belonging to Freddie. He congratulated him on succeeding in bringing the foliage down to such a small size and creating very good visible rootage that delivered just the correct amount of tension within the tree to make a superb example of a good bonsai.

Terry was up next, his subject Japanese and Chinese Bonsai. He felt that before one can truly understand Bonsai one needs to understand the underlying philosophy and culture. The main difference between the way these two countries approach it, is in the word for bonsai (Japanese) and Penjing (Chinese). Both "bon" and "Pen" mean pot but sai means tree or trees whereas "jing" means landscape. Therefore the Chinese often add elements e.g. rocks, figures, bridges, temples etc. which are not acceptable to the Japanese. He illustrated the differences of approach by means of photographs. Members were also given an exercise of using adjectives to describe the trees put up on the screen. Terry felt that merely taking different elements and putting them together without any sensitivity did not achieve the objectives of bonsai.

Freddie's subject slanting style created a great deal of discussion. He illustrated the different opinions regarding the angle of the trunk in slanting style and the general acceptance that this style required balance, he felt that often in nature, there was a great deal of imbalance and this added a new dimension to the style. This was also illustrated by photographs. The different ways of placing branches and unequal areas of negative spaces created additional interest. He felt bonsai growers needed to become more lateral thinkers and not just stick to so called rules. The discussion which followed was lively and could probably have gone on till midnight.

A wonderful start to the New Year and hopefully future meetings will have this type of participation.



Club Meeting September 2012

by Amith Ramballie

Our previous meeting was opened by Terry, who informed the members of three upcoming events: a Mini Bonsai Convention that took place in Bloemfontein over the weekend of the 22-23rd September, the Benbel Bonsai Weekend in October, as well as the CBK Show in December in Kirstenbosch Gardens. It was encouraging to note that so many old and new members volunteered to avail trees for the show. Terry also thanked members for their participation in the Arbor Day Celebrations at the Company Gardens.

Brett reviewed books that he had taken out of the library during the previous meeting, and the book: Man Lung Penjing was especially interesting, as it presented a lot of variations in landscape plantings.

Peter Bruyns presented the first talk of the evening on the topic "Psylla". Peter spoke of the four main types of Psylla with respect to common bonsai (Olea, Mali, Betula and Buxi). The talk presented information on the differences between the different Psylla, as well as the means to control them.

Francois Voges was next on the agenda, and he urged everyone to be vigilant if considering showing a tree this year, as we were already into the 90 day mark, of the "100 day Countdown to Show". A few of the tips that he presented were: feed weekly, weakly; do not defoliate in October; Iron Chelate 2 weeks before the show to encourage greener foliage; 5-7 days before, spray the tree with Oleum; and 24hrs before, an application of Wiltpruf if necessary.

Tony Bent spoke about Terrys Wisteria and Johannes' Juniper in the judge's choice.

A reminder was made of the upcoming workshop on the weekend of the 29th at Freddie Bisschoffs home.

The evening was concluded with a fascinating presentation by Rudi Adams on the Cascade Style of Bonsai. Rudi brought along a few trees for practical explanation, with respect to styling options, pot choice, transporting of cascades and displaying. It was interesting to note that there are so many variations on the cascade style.


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Tenderly, lovingly

raking up dead leaves

in his Bonsai forest

Random Bonsai Tip

When a tree has reversed taper or a narrowed 'waistline' above the nebari, you could do an airlayering just above the narrow section; or you could damage the cambium layer by either hammering gently with a mallet or by piercing the bark right into the cambium with a sharp object eg. scissors or an awl. You could also make deep incisions along the grain of the bark, where the healing process will cause scarring which would then thicken the trunk.