Club Meeting August 2012

by Pieter Loots

Our last meeting was opened by Trevor who thanked everyone for attending and also made apologies for those not being able to be there, he then spoke about pesticides and fertilizers for sale by the club, that are given to members at cost price.

Yvonne reminded club members about the Arbor month bonsai show at the Company gardens in Cape Town, and asked for more volunteers. She also announced that Andrew will be our new club IT specialist.

Then Jan-Jurie spoke about spring pests and how to prevent damage caused by them. He pointed out that it is important to always investigate for any pests and take preventative measures before the problem arises. Look under leaves, between nodes and keep an eye on your soil and drainage.

One of the advanced Buddleja's on show at the meeting was discussed by Viky. It was quite a nice tree, but she did point out that it could be re potted into a smaller pot and the front could be changed.

Then we had a review by Cindy of the Winter Bash held at Stark Ayres. Carl Morrow had a very interesting talk there and workshop on a Swamp Cyrpress, and Freddie Boschoff had an in-depth talk and workshop on the same species. Hannes was doing an exceptional carving demonstration on a maple which was on show at the August club meeting.

Then finally Graemme La Foy had an extremely interesting talk about Slasto slabs. He showed us the process he follows from start to end product and brought some very nice finished pieces with. Graemme pointed out that Shale stone can be drilled, polished and shaped with relative ease as long as care is taken and you use the right tools.

I am sure we all learned something new and refreshed our eager bonsai minds after such an eventful meeting. I surely cannot wait to attend the Arbor show and the next meeting, until then keep your fingers green.


Club Meeting July 2012

by Terry Erasmus

It's my responsibility to nominate someone to do the meeting review, however I forgot last time, just engrossed in the talks I guess. So I will attempt to do justice to those who spoke on the evening, from memory.

Phil developed an illness and was unable to deliver his talk on pests, however Yvonne was rearing to go in her slot on root systems. Instead of the traditional method of delivering information ie. I speak and you listen, Yvonne prepared her talk around audience participation. After dividing the members in attendance into small groups and passing out questionnaires, she used a series of PowerPoint slides to prompt discussion around examples of bonsai with a focus on their nebari. The audience appeared to enjoy the exercise and I am sure are wiser when it comes to roots systems now.

Everyone knows that Dorothy is a very enthusiastic collector and aficionado of viewing stones, so who better to talk on the subject than her. Dorothy gave us some very interesting facts about the strict rules surrounding the collection, care and display of viewing stones in China. What was also interesting was some of the legends and myth surrounding this otherwise very 'odd' fascination and its place in eastern religion. Dorothy showed us some of her stones and told us a little about each one, where she had collected them and what she saw in them. Surely now when you next go for a walk in the mountains or along a river somewhere you will pay more attention to what you are walking over, you may just find your first viewing stone.

Carl and Viky together gave us a demonstration of winter pruning, Viky on a Celtis forest and Carl on a Chinese Quince. The importance of winter pruning and its role in the development of your bonsai trees cannot be exaggerated. If you would like to get those fine twigs in your branches, otherwise known as ramification, then you best master winter pruning.


Club Meeting May 2012

by Johan Lotz

Jan-Jurie kicked off the meeting with a slide show presentation on how to treat for Scale and Australian bug. He warned about using systemic pesticides on figs, indicating to rather use Rose Care which also doubles as a fungicide and to use Oleum or Garden Gun on other types of trees.

Trevor was the judge for the evening and picked a root over rock olive that Rudi brought along. Although it was a good tree Trevor did point out some negatives which include the lack of roots in the front and the fact that the bottom side branches still needed to thicken more.

Next it was Malcolm and his son Colin that showed us the very creative and large variety of artificial rock shapes that they make to be used for rock plantings. Some of the moulds they used were based on rocks that they borrowed from Rudi. They are constantly trying out new methods and shapes and continue to grapple with issues like reducing the weight of the rocks and designing better and deeper moulds that allow for better moisture retention. The colour of the rocks varied as well and the process used to create the colours means that it should never change over time.

They were then followed by Rudi and Dorothy that showed us how to make root over rock plantings using young olives and rocks that Rudi brought along. Dorothy did most of the work (ably assisted by Jan-Jurie) with Rudi providing running commentary. Olives was the chosen specie as one can only do root over rock plantings with them this time of the year. The stock should ideally not be older than 3 years. One must have several trees and several rocks so that once you've cleaned of the soil from the roots of the trees you can mix and match between the different trees and rocks to find the best combination. Rudi said that one can't plan too much into advance e.g. which root will grow where (the tree will do what it wants to do), although Dorothy liked the idea of planning as much as possible more . The tree should ideally have roots longer than the rock you want to use. When cutting the roots one should target to leave a few main roots on the plant which you wrap around the rock – but leave more than you think you need! One can use mutton cloth to wrap roots around the rock (benefit is that it disintegrates) or alternatively can use green tubing (benefit is it stretches). Wire/cable ties not ideal as it does not stretch.

For most plants the roots should be buried completely under the ground together with the rock in order for the roots to fatten up well. Figs are the one exception to this. Normally should leave roots and rock in the ground for at least 3 years. Rudi suggested that with elms one can also slice open the bottom of the bags at some point and then put it in open ground for roots to grow down further.


Club Meeting June 2012

by Viyonne Longmore

Soil for Bonsai by Graham la Foy

The essence of this very practical talk, was that one needs to understand the importance of a good soil mix, as it will be sustaining your tree for at least a season. Another important aspect is that each tree has slightly different requirements for its soil constituents, but there are some recurring themes.

A good soil mix consists of 4 components:

  • Mineral: gravel, sand, silt, clay
  • Decayed material: friable, retains moisture, contains nutrients
  • Living organisms: bacteria, moulds, fungi, insects
  • Gases and moisture

Graham took the time to show us examples of each kind of potential component to your soil mix and discussed the benefits of each constituent. The take home message for is that each component, be it gravel or organic matter, must be well decayed so that is wont decay in the bonsai pot to a detrimental degree.

Deadwood Preservation by Trevor Venables

There are three major origins of deadwood that is used in bonsai

  • one can collect a tree that has a deadwood component on it
  • it can be created as a design consideration
  • it can occur during die back of an existing tree

Deadwood needs to be of a hard wood origin: olive, pine, juniper etc.

The essence of deadwood preservation is to prevent fungi and bacteria thriving and thereby causing rot.Trevor discussed the various options of treating deadwood, some of which is not available in South Africa.

  1. Lime sulphur: this releases sulphur dioxide which causes the bleaching effect, so care must be taken to not get it on unglazed pots. Whilst being easily available, there is the problem of poor penetration into the wood and therefore repeated applications are necessary.
  2. Enseal/ Alkalyn wood glue: this contains Zinc as a biocide, plus it seals the wood. Potential problems here would be that it doesn't penetrate so existing organisms could still cause problems.
  3. MinWax/Ronseal: these are wood hardeners but are not available in SA
  4. Rot Doctor: again, not available here, but this product has fantastic penetration and is epoxy based
  5. Bonsai Wood Sealer (created by Rudi): when used diluted 1:10 and in conjunction with lime sulphur, it was agreed upon that this was one of the best products available.

Trevor's take home message: Prevention of rot, it better than cure!

Olives by Freddie Bischoff

The western cape has an abundance of both commercial olives as well as wild olives. The key success factors in sourcing an olive is to have a plan before one digs up the olive and to be realistic about how long the tree will take to mature once potted. There are two main factors affecting the timing of the dig

  1. Climate – it was agreed that around May/June, just before the rains was the best time
  2. Tree growth stage – an olive has three main growth stages: the first is when the tap root system dominates and lasts for about 7 years. The second is when new roots sprout, the bark cracks and the tree starts to store energy (this is the time to dig!). The third stage is when the tap roots die off and the main roots forms. Hopefully this will occur in your pot.

Freddie had an extensive and very informative talk taking us through the steps of finding a tree, treating it, potting it, caring for it and then repotting it. He is also currently performing many experiments of soil types with his olives and hopefully will soon be able to give us advice on the most optimal conditions for your olive.

Freddie's take home message: Each olive is an individual, we can control most aspects of the care of the tree, but it does not always guarantee success


Club Meeting April 2012

by Graham la Foy

The proceedings commenced with our newly elected President, Terry welcoming many new guests (and hopefully some aspiring new bonsai enthusiasts!). Apologies from a number of members were recorded & feedback given on Lionel & Gail's recovery & progress in health. We all wish them speedy recoveries.

The first slot belonged to Trevor who delivered a very informative talk on the woes of "Root Rot". He mentioned the 'where & how do you find out' whether your trees suffer from this disease is keen observation of your bonsais. Tell-tale signs are unusual leaf colour changes (yellowing) and the tree taking on an unhealthy appearance. Trevor warned that once the disease has set in, it becomes extremely difficult to treat. Here, the prevention is better than cure rule applies. Firstly, practice good hygiene on your trees. Secondly, use good quality materials. Thirdly, ensure good drainage. Some suggested treatments were changing of the soil & applying appropriate fungicides (eg. Kick-back, etc.)

Rudi then took over with Judge's Choice, choosing a Diospyros from Viky, which had some exquisite glossy leaves & an elegant trunk. A lively Q&A chat followed surrounding the growth pattern of this species.

The main slot of the evening was by Adam, who delighted & enthused us with a slide show on him & his spouse's visit to Japan. We were treated with an eye-opener journey into the wonderful Autumnal display of Japanese horticultural art, tradition & their love & enjoyment of bonsai. His portrayal of the Japanese attention to detail to all things 'GREEN' was truly inspiring. I guess for any aspirant visitor there, getting in touch with Adam would be worth your while.

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If you were silent

Flight of herons on dark sky ...

Oh! Autumn snowflakes! ~ Sokan

Random Bonsai Tip

If a tree lacks a branch in a specific place you could in arch or approach graft a branch in the required area or thread graft through the trunk using a long shoot of the same plant.