Club Meeting April 2015

by Dorothy Franz

Trevor opened the meeting by welcoming guests and reminding the members of upcoming events.

Yvonne's tip to improving one's tree is to look at the branch structure which is best done by the taking of black & white photographs where there is no colour or flowers to interfere with the image.

Jan-Jurie in his slot extreme makeover brought along a Chinese juniper he had been working on since May2014 and by a series of illustrations walked us through the progress he had made and explained what he intended to do in future.

Trevor in Bonsai Basics explained that the 5 basic bonsai styles all had their origin in nature. He then went on to point out the characteristics of each of these styles. He ended by quoting John Naka "Bonsai should look like a tree and not a tree look like a Bonsai"

Viky's, the judge, for the evening brought up three trees from the tables all with a different nebari pointing out how important the nebari is in Bonsai design.

The main talk given by Terry was on Pines. This species seemed the most daunting one to bonsai growers and although lovely to work with it is not the easiest species. He gave and overview of Black, Red and White pine and explained the different methods used in Japan.

The Japanese like a powerful trunk and interesting bark texture which comes with maturity. He explained that pines prefer a dry mix as a water retentive mix produces coiling roots. The growth after repotting is strong. One should never remove more than a third of the root mass and the tree should be secured in the pot to prevent the finer roots from being damaged.

At great length he explained how and when de-candling should be done and the effect of this.

One should feed well before this procedure and the very weakly after one month. Organic fertilizers should be used to ensure that the mycorrhiza is not affected. Needle plucking allows the inner buds to live and distributes the energy of the tree. He suggested that old needles should all be pulled out in Autumn to allow the tips of the branches a place in the sun. Pines prefer a deeper pot.

There were many questions from the members. A most enjoyable and informative evening.


Club Meeting January 2015

by Jurie van Heerden

Jurie welcomed all members - he also thanked members of their work at the Annual Cape Bonsai Kai Show which was held from the 12 to 14 December 2014.

Shaun van Laun did the bush to bonsai slot and started by explaining to the members his vision of the design of the tree.

Jan-Jurie Loots discussed and presented the branch development in Figs. He discussed his tree and the last 10 years of development of the tree. He presented some essential information you need to develop branches in figs, like evaluating the design and get branch placement in harmony with the style of the tree. Jan-Jurie also demonstrated how the thinning out process works, how to shorten branches and how to force diversification of the structure.

He described the stages of branch development by waiting for thicker branches to develop and then to wire, removing the wire and then prune back and lastly to prune to two buds that would bud horizontally. He closed the presentation by discussing the following:

  • Stages of development,
  • The level of design,
  • The maintenance of the design,
  • Understanding the material, and
  • Techniques of how to develop and control the tree's growth and overall vigour.

Yvonne Romyn was the Judge in Judge's Choice and Group discussion. Some comments from Yvonne on the trees she picked for group discussion.

  • Yvonne discussed a Portulacaria clump of trees from Kevin Kelly and thought the clump of trees were very nice,
  • The kai members discussed the uses of the portulacaria tree and how good it is to the environment,
  • Hennie Nel mentioned that the a portulacaria won best in show in China,
  • Yvonne also discussed a Ensorcia (huil boerboon) from Vicky which she really liked,
  • Lastly, Yvonne discussed a tree from Hennie Nel called a Num-Num and she gave some advice on how to "cheat".

Trevor Venables started the next presentation on Indigenous trees and discussed the distribution of indigenous trees into seven vegetative biomes which are:

  1. Forest
  2. Thicket
  3. Savanna
  4. Grassland
  5. Nana Karoo
  6. Succulent Karoo, and
  7. Fynbos.

Trevor further discussed the Bonsai Design and requirements for indigenous trees and explained the detail of what soil, how to transplant and how to water and prune trees.

The rest of the presentation Trevor displayed a picture or live tree to describe all the indigenous trees in South Africa.

They were as follows:

  1. Acacia,
  2. Galpinii
  3. Burkei
  4. Nigrescens,
  5. Adansonia Digitata,
  6. Bauhinia Tomentosa / Natalensis,
  7. Burchellia Bubalina,
  8. Buddleja Saligna
  9. Carissa Macrocarpa,
  10. Celtis Africana,
  11. Colonema,
  12. Dalbergia Armata / Obovata,
  13. Diospyros Lycioides,
  14. Diospyros Whyteana,
  15. Dombeya Rotundifolia,
  16. Dovyalis Caffra,
  17. Ficus,
  18. Galpinia Transvaalica,
  19. Grewia Occidentalis,
  20. Heteropyxis Natalensis,
  21. Kiggelaria Africana,
  22. Olea,
  23. Portulacaria Afra,
  24. Schotia Afra / Brachypetala,
  25. Syzygium Cordatum,
  26. Bolusanthus speciosa,
  27. Erythina Lysistemon,
  28. Sideroxylon Inerme,
  29. Rhus sp,
  30. Ochna Serrulata,
  31. Cassine Peragua,
  32. Lannea Schweinfurthii,
  33. Berchemia Discolor, and
  34. Podocarpus.

Trevor thanked all for their time and closed the presentation.

Jurie closed the meeting by thanking all presenters and members for attending the meeting.


Club Meeting October 2014

by Jurie van Heerden

Jurie welcomed all members and present apologies from Terry Erasmus, Francois Voges and Yvonne Romyn. He also reminded members of the Arbour weekend Bonsai Festival and asked members to prepare their trees for the Cape Bonsai Kai Bonsai Show in Kirstenbosch gardens from the 12 to 14 December 2014.

Trees with flaws

Trevor started the discussion on inverse taper and indicated that there are various ways of hiding the flaws in bonsai trees. Trevor further indicated (tongue-in-cheek) that if you see a rock next to a tree that there is a big chance that there is a flaw with the tree.

Carl spoke about a Chinese saying that a tree is a tea drinking bonsai which means that the bonsai tree is interested and could be viewed while drinking tea. Carl displayed a Juniper probumense nana bonsai tree and asked the members what they see as possible flaws in the tree. A discussion started where members commented on the trunk of the tree and possible improvements that can be made with the tree.

Next Carl displayed a maple from Rudi Adam and spoke about possible flaws in the tree and discussed with the members what their views were. Members also discussed what the possible front of the tree could be – Carl thank all for their time and closed the discussion.

Judge's choice & group discussion

Trevor discussed a maple forest from Hennie Nel and how it could be developed into a great bonsai specimen. He then discussed a tree from Jan-Jurie indicated that some more ramification can be done to improve the bonsai tree and also discussed a root and how to possible position it better which he believes it would develop into a very good bonsai tree. Next was a Juniper Procumbens nana from Carl which Trevor discussed with the members - he lately commented that he was very impressed with the bonsai pot.

Creative thinking & bonsai guidelines

Carl gave a breakdown of guidelines and techniques and how to develop your bonsai trees. He discussed further that after a while your synthetics can come into play and sometimes supersedes the guidelines. Carl discussed a juniper that was put into a very nice visually strong pot and described that the power and beauty of pots should not over power the bonsai tree – he also discussed the juniper tree in more detail with some of the flaws of the tree. He explained that you must just enjoy and experience your bonsai trees instead of always wanting to redesign the trees. He also talked about how amazing and perfect the Japanese show bonsai trees are and he does not really want to own one as they must require lots of work. Carl also described how 2 different pots can create different experiences for one bonsai tree and by using pots you can be very creative – the members started a discussion around the options and matching pots with bonsai trees. He used a olive tree he bought at the Stellenbosch botanical auction and discussed the tree and some of the critical issues with tree – he mentioned that the tree was grown from 1992. Rudi suggest that the tree could be styled into literati. Carl then investigated the roots of the tree by removing the tree from the pot – he then used wire to bend the tree trunk using wire thus transformed the tree into a more interesting style. Carl thanked all and closed the presentation.

Jurie closed the meeting.


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Club Meeting February 2015

by Frik de Jager


Trees with Problems was done by Carl.

Carl pointed out that a lot of problems can be prevented by good feeding and correct  water practices. Regular and correct fertilizing is essential and will prevent a lot of problems.

Root rot was discussed by all members and the 2 main reasons for this problem were identified as It is a situation only occurring during summer months by over watering. A lack of oxygen available for the roots. Stressed trees can also occur due to too much sun during peak summer. But the 2 key factors remain:  Be sensitive towards each tree and  “ Be in touch with your trees”

Branch Ramification by Freddie Bischoff was presented.

Presentation was great and a lot of effort have gone into it; Thanks Freddie; with lots of photos and a lot of beautiful trees was displayed. Freddie started by saying: “Branch development and Ramification takes a lot of time and there is no short cuts.” His personal timespan that he has put on developing these objectives is 6 to 7 years. Start with a good root system and main stem. Get a strong Basis and Primary branches going. Grow and cut Primary Branches. Keep the ratio right between Lower and upper branches. Keep lower branches uncut for longer to thickening up nicely. 4 Important things to remember are:

  1. Grow for Vigour
  2. Prune for Health
  3. Defoliate for sun to get through to the inner part and lower branches.
  4. Start final developing of a tree from the top downwards.

Feeding trees were also graphically displayed and in short came down to the following:

  • Growing trees can be fertilized from October to November and again in February and March.
  • Developed trees must only get fed after February.

Meeting was adjourned by Trevor.


Club Meeting November 2014

by Jurie van Heerden

Jurie welcomed all members - he also reminded members of the Cape Bonsai Kai Show from the 12 to 14 December 2014 and to prepare their trees.

Brett Simon started the evening with a presentation and talk about Bonsai pots. He described what unusual pots are and choosing the correct pot for your bonsai. He talked about the various different pots that you can get with examples of the different shapes and sizes. Brett closed the presentation by thanking everyone for their time.

Judge's choice and Group Discussion was done by Yvonne Romain and she discussed an Azalea with beautiful flowers and commented that it might need to have a more shallow pot.

Further discussions were regarding a wild olive from Vicky, a fig which she mentioned in her opinion needs more foliage, a Juniper nana scene with a beautiful rock and lastly another wild olive from Vicky in a pot made by her.

Terry and Carl brought 2 trees to work and discuss with the club members.

Terry discussed a Japanese Red Pine and talked about candle pruning, needle plucking and how to design the tree to look older by bringing the branched down.

Carl talked about Acacia robusta from Kirstenbosch which has been grown from seed since 1943. He discussed the pot which is based on the famous Mr Su’s pots and he owned it since 2005.

The members discussed and commented on the 2 trees until Jurie closed the meeting.


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On the weathered shelf

A self-cleaned cat in autumn

Curls around itself.

Random Bonsai Tip

When creating Ishizuke or a rock clinging bonsai planting there must be harmony between the tree and rock, that is, the style of the tree and the shape of the rock must have artistic harmony and it must be natural.