Club Meeting August 2011

by Terry Erasmus

As Yvonne was away Dorothy chaired the August meeting of the Cape Bonsai Kai. The evening was rather cold and wet and so attendance was not what it should have been but everyone there was in high spirits and looking forward to the evenings presentations.

Tony did the judges comment and remarked on the exceptionally high standard of the so-called 'Beginner's table.' A tree which he commented on specifically was a collected olive belonging to Hennie.

Terry who had been asked to talk on 'Tips and Cheats' introduced us to the new club website. He walked us through the different menu's, showed us how to access articles, galleries, tips and much more at the click of a button. There is a tremendous amount of useful and important information available on the website with more on its way so be sure to visit the club website frequently

Freddie and the team organizing the Arbor Week in conjunction with the City of Cape Town have been extremely busy planning a very interesting week of bonsai festivities. Freddie took the opportunity to bring the club up to date on where, how and what. All members are strongly encouraged to attend the opening on Saturday the 3rd but also during the week. Please be sure to check the latest programme which will be posted on the website as soon as it is received from the organizers.

Hennie told us about a special tree of his. It was a collected olive which he decided on. The tree was collected some years ago and is now growing rather healthily in a plastic container with sand only. He brought with him a large chunk of wood which was in fact part of the root base which had been removed after the tree was collected.

Daniel from Neutrog was the main speaker of the evening. He gave us some background on the company, their humble beginnings and how they are penetrating the world organic fertilizer market one chicken poop at a time. We were told of some exciting new products which will soon be available and which promise to be of great interest to bonsai growers. Members were invited to complete enrollment forms in order to belong to their club (you can also enroll online) and were offered the opportunity to purchase some of the Neutrog products at a discounted price.

Dorothy closed the meeting by thanking all the speakers and Andrew for assisting us in an unforeseen IT crisis.


Club Meeting July 2011

by Jurie van Heerden

Yvonne welcomed all members and visitors Sean, John and Justin to the meeting. Members were reminded of Arbor Day to contact Hennie if they have bigger trees to display. Members were also asked if they can volunteer to perform demo’s and speak to visitors on the day.

A discussion on the club’s logo followed and it was suggested that the Kai leave the logo discussion another month before voting.

Yvonne then discussed ground covers and how to make the base of a bonsai tree look more interesting by raising the soil level around the base of the tree. When using moss make sure that the moss looks uneven with bumps to create more interest. Also using plain sticks buried in the soil around the base of the tree can give the impression of thick roots growing there. Yvonne demonstrated and it was hilarious when the members found out that it was a dead stick and not real root growing at the base of the tree!

Trevor then spoke on Soils for Bonsai. He explained that Bonsai prefer a breathable soil; where water moves through easily without resistance with good drainage and good water retention. He said that soil PH of 6.5 suits most plants and that very few plants tolerate alkaline soils. If your soil ph is not correct it locks nutrients in the soil to the detriment of the plant. He then discussed: Inorganic soils which consist of: Sand (> 2mm), Silt (0.2mm), and Clay (very fine), (Loam is a mixture of these 3 soils) and Organic soils which consist of: Compost, Leaves and Humus. He said that the typical bonsai mix consist of: 2 parts gravel & sand, 2 parts composts, 1 part of garden loam. Indigenous trees require more drainage in Cape Town due to the wet winters.

Rudi Adam was the judge for the evening and he selected Hennie’s tree and Viky’s tree that he liked for its deadwood and character.

Graham La Foy then followed with the “Story of my tree” and he brought his first attempt at making a Phoenix graft using deadwood that he collected and growing a pine with it.

The main part of the evening was Carl Morrow on the topic of Phoenix graft. Carl explained that this in Japan is called TANUKI or wrap around and that there it has a very negative connotation as it was seen as cheating. Carl did a demo Phoenix graft using an old beautiful piece of olive deadwood and three young small pines trees. He mentioned that when using screws to attach the live trees to the deadwood, you must use brass screws as they don’t rust. The demo lasted about 90 minutes and was completed by adding the newly created cascade tree into a stunning pot.

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Distant mountain heights...

Lonely trees clinging...

In the hollow of my hand

Random Bonsai Tip

Use vinegar and water to remove moss but it is not as effective as using Limestone Ammonium Nitrate (LAN) and water. Be very careful not to spill any of the LAN on the roots of the bonsai tree as it may burn them and may in the worst case cause the tree to die. Carefully paint the LAN and water mix on the trunk of the bonsai tree and within days you should see the moss turn brown and die.