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.