Club Meeting March 2012



Club Meeting February 2012

by Dorothy Franz

To those of you who missed this meeting, you missed a rare treat. Francois kicked off the evening with his Celtis which was giving him some problems. He said that it always looked sad for the first 3 months of the year and despite him having given it a great deal more space and fed it with a variety of fertilizers it never really developed. Gail and Rudi advised him to leaf prune it in mid- summer in order to get a flush of growth. Feeding well in June and spring pruning every twiglet to one or two eyes would also help.

Francois then showed us his success at air layering Azaleas. He advised that this should be done in August for best success. Within 3months one could then detach the air layering. They need care for the first 6months.

Trevor's talk on bonsai basics was on transplanting and repotting. He pointed out the necessity of repotting to allow space for roots to grow. If left the roots would fill the pot and the soil would turn to dust which could not sustain a tree. He pointed out the direct correlation between roots and branches and how sorting out the roots during repotting sorted out problems with branches at the same time. What to do if you wanted ramification. What to do if you required growth. The importance of the first repot for correcting problems and the aftercare required. It was an extremely thorough talk and very informative.

Tony, judge for the evening brought up a lovely root on rock belonging to Rudi. It was about 7 years old and very healthy. Rudi said he kept it in semi-shade. The 2nd tree belonged to Johan Lotz, an elegant Maple in a beautiful pot.

Ken Freeman entertained us with his skill at using anything to hand that could be made useful for bonsai. His turn table had been made from old washing machine parts. He had always wanted a forest so he had dug up a group of seedlings and planted it as a forest at the same time throwing in some seeds at random which added to his forest. He kindly brought along a few cuttings as give -aways to new members.

The main talk by Gail "Rocks and bonsai". She started with a few slides of rocks and bonsai in China, Indonesia and Vietnam. To her, landscapes are a corner of nature captured in a container. In her usual style, Gail came very well prepared and organized. She then did four plantings. One with bulky low rocks, one with a large clinker rock, one with long Namibian rock and one with a soft type of stone collected near Theewaterskloof. She showed us how to cement rocks together to form pleasing combinations and how to cement them on a solid base. This she did with rock set mixed with a suitable colour oxide. She emphasized that when starting a landscape one needed a mixture of large and small rocks. They needed to be of the same material, colour and structure otherwise the harmony would be disturbed. The placement followed the same principles as forests. Rocks needed to be placed first and then the trees were added. Landscapes were always in very shallow containers. In China they used marble trays with small rims. If water was to be part of the landscape, this would be denoted by leaving a portion of the white marble exposed.

Terry has taken some pictures of the demo so visit the website and enjoy.


Club Meeting November 2011

by Jurie van Heerden

CBK President, Yvonne Romyn welcomed all members and guests that were in attendance. Yvonne reminded all members present to send their availability to assist during the CBK Show and their competition tree names to Tony Bent. She also reminded members of the Tygerberg Bonsai show on the 25th & 26th of November 2011.

Gail Theron presented the “Tips and Cheats” talk on how to remove moss from the trunks of your bonsai trees. She commented that you could use vinegar and water to try and remove the moss but it is not as effective as using Limestone Ammonium Nitrate (LAN) and water. Gail further commented that you should be careful NOT to spill any of the LAN on the roots of the bonsai tree as it may die. You can carefully paint the LAN and water mix on the trunk of the bonsai tree and should see the moss turn brown and die.

Carl, Phil and Cindy were next to present their recent trip to the latest African Bonsai Convention that was held in Durban, KwaZulu Natal this year. Carl started by telling members that the first ABC was held in 2002, the second in 2007 and this year was the third ABC convention. This year’s convention was also attended by a small group of American guests was held in a converted convention centre of a Primary school.

Phil was next to explain how various presenters styled their bonsai material into beautiful bonsai trees and commented on how the styles of the presenters were very different. Phil also explained that he learned that you should not be afraid to make dramatic design changes to your tree to achieve results.

Cindy then presented photos taken by her during the convention of the people, how they socialized and the great bonsai trees on show. Cindy mentioned that over 3000 people attended the bonsai exhibition during the 3 days.

The Judges choice was done by Rudi Adams and he picked 2 trees, a stunning flowering Azalea by Dorothy Franz and a Red pine from Terry Erasmus. Rudi commented that Terry’s Red Pine has a great future as a top bonsai tree.

“The Story of my tree” topic was done by Francois Voges and consisted of two trees namely a Maple tree and a Mint Julip. Francois explained how the maple is the oldest tree in his collection and how his gardener by accident tore the whole apex of the maple. He has been trying to grow a new apex with mixed results but feels very sentimental towards the tree.

The second tree that Francois presented was a Mint Julip which he explained he would like to create a apex by making it into a jin. Various suggestions were put forward by the members and Francois finished by thanking all for their help.

Terry Erasmus spoke to the Kai regarding the CBK Website. He said he did not see much activity and had received little feedback from the Kai members. He encouraged all members to view the articles on the website and commented on the lack of contributions towards senior member gallery pages.

The evening was concluded with a workshop done by Freddie Bisschoff on a Swamp Cypress, Yvonne Romyn on a Sergeant Juniper and Tony Bent on a Pine.


Club Meeting January 2012

Yvonne welcomed our new member Johan as well as all members and wished them compliments of the season. Apologies were received from Derek, Peter, Jurie, Gail and Tony.

In the slot "Tips and Cheats", Yvonne said that she had found it very beneficial to take photographs of a tree from different angles and then print these in black and white. Printing in colour caused a distraction. She also advocated placing wedges under ones tree at different points to see if a tree could not be improved by tilting, which often was the case.

Freddie presented a power point presentation on the background and all the hard work behind the scenes for Arbor Week. This had been a collaboration between the City Council and the clubs in the western Cape. The week had been very successful with many visitors admiring large bonsai that are normally too cumbersome to transport to exhibitions. This had been made possible by the city who had provided the man power. Members of the public were encouraged to bring their trees for advice. He hoped it could be repeated this year.

In the "Story of my Tree", Terry brought along an Elm, he had bought which had been imported from China. He had chosen it purely because he liked the nebari giving no thought to branch structure. The growth of the tree was stunted and he noticed a lot of white grubs so he potted it up in a larger pot with completely new soil. He explained that although the nebari had been the initial attraction he now felt he needed to reduce the visual weight in this section. Various suggestions addressing his main concern of his back branch were put forward for Terry to consider.

Carl presented the main talk of the evening "Styling of Indigenous Trees". African Styles had been pioneered by Charles Ceronio in his book. He drew up a comparison chart of oriental styling which was with pines and needle trees in mind against African trees which generally had upward pointing branches. He felt that we should use our indigenous trees to express a more African feel, while keeping in mind bonsai principles of design. He was finding this very difficult to achieve because trees that have upward pointing branches allow very little space for the branches higher up the tree. He felt that when designing a tree one must take into account the species characteristics and use creativity and sensitivity. He was reminded of a quote by John Naka "Bonsai is a representation of nature not a mirror image". It was a very thought provoking talk which surely stimulated all present.

Yvonne the judge of the evening pointed out a beautiful tree belonging to Hennie and two belonging to Freddie.


Club Meeting October 2011

by Dorothy Franz

After the usual housekeeping notices Yvonne started the evening off with some pointers about watering. This one daily function of every bonsai grower yet often done by rote and sometimes haphazardly. Little attention is paid to the species of tree e.g. pines need less water and don’t like being soaking wet all the time. She urged members to pay attention to their ground cover. Not too much moss or a thick layer of stones which can prevent the intake of water. Is your area being shaded by trees? Do you get a lot of wind? How well does your soil drain? All of these factors affect one’s watering programme.

Trevor’s ten minute talk concentrated on roots and their function. He pointed out that it is the small pinprick discs at the end of fine roots that do the intake of water and nutrients. That is why it is so important to preserve sufficient fine roots when repotting. One can easily get reverse osmosis if your intake is not enough.

Judge of the evening was Dorothy who brought up two trees, an olive belonging to Viky and one belonging to Trevor. Viky’s tree was a delightful shohin with some beautifully executed carving. Trevor’s tree basically just needed some refinement and correction with regard to the balance of the tree. This caused some controversy. Ultimately it is Trevor who has to decide which way to go with the suggestions.

In the slot “The story of my tree”, Peter brought along a large olive which he had dug up. It was a tree he had used at the workshop with Budi Solystio. It had several branches all flowing in one direction and Budi had felt it resembled a dancer so it has been named “Dancing Budi”. The tree had a very elegant flow and looked very healthy. It lacked a bit of depth which in time will be corrected.

The main talk of the evening on Olives was given by Freddie. This was a real treat. Freddie has a great love for Olives and feels they are very under utilised because they have acquired a reputation for being fickle. He brought along several trees, 2, 4 and 6 years to demonstrate the development that can be achieved. For his demonstration he had brought 2 large collected trees. Unfortunately because of time constraints he only worked on the one, a semi-cascade. After some discussion, the consensus was that he should turn the tree around. He agreed, although it was not his original intended front. He proceeded to wire the branches and put them into place. The result was most pleasing and with time will develop into an exciting tree.

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On the weathered shelf

A self-cleaned cat in autumn

Curls around itself.

Random Bonsai Tip

Wick watering - Support your tree or pot over a container of water. Place one end of a piece of rope (approx 20 cm long and one centimeter diameter) in the container and bury the other end in the pot of soil - you can now go away on holiday.