Club Meeting June 2013

by Pieter Loots

In this cold month of June we had quite an eventful club meeting with some very interesting talks.

The evening was started off with Vicky. She gave a talk on a root graft progression of a maple which she dug out at the wine farm Boschendal. The tree had great taper on the top part, so she air layered it. The next step was to grow some roots. She attached young cuttings of the same plant at an angle of the large maple. The cuttings were less than one year old. She removed some of the bark of the cutting and the mother tree. Then she screws the cutting on being careful not to injure the cutting. Two years after the young cuttings were attached, she cut off the top part, and her roots are ready to fatten up.

Then Terry Erasmus gave us a talk on growing Nebari which is the Japanese word for roots. Nebari provides the appearance of maturity. We normally use nature as a reference. The best time to work on roots is when we repot. Things to try and avoid when growing roots are some of the following:

  • When there are no surface roots
  • Roots on only one side
  • Coiled or exposed roots
  • Roots at different heights
  • Heavy surface roots – rather divide large roots
  • Roots with sharp angles – roots should be straight

One method of creating better nebari is ground layering, which is the method Vicky used. It is important to make the cut where you will attach the young plant at least the thickness of the trunk, preferably thicker. Also using fast draining soil helps with growing good roots. It will also be better to use a young plant that is growing at a slight angle. You could also grow quality nebari by growing your trees in an open field, and then placing the plant on top of a tile or any flat surface, thus forcing the tree to grow lateral roots. The tree is placed on top of the flat surface; a little soil is placed on top of the roots. And the roots are then forced to grow over the surface into the soil; you achieve extra growth using this method.

Our next topic was treatment and care of Yamadori (a tree collected in nature) by Hennie Nel. The following are steps to follow after you have dug out your tree. Make sure you remove all surplus branches and roots, also removing dead roots, spray with Wiltpruf and water on roots and foliage and then wrap for protection. Make sure you cover up the dig hole and remove any debris.

Once you arrive home leave the tree in water for one to two days in a Superthrive solution. After this is done cut any surplus branches, and make sure you cut them at a 45 degree angle, and then seal the cuts. Also seal any cuts on the roots. Cut the base to fit into future pot, doing this now will save time and effort in later years. Plant your tree in the largest container possible to encourage growth. Make sure you use a fast draining soil; Hennie uses a gravel, course sand and compost mix. Secure your tree in the pot and use the soil mixture of choice. Once planted place tree in a warm but protected area. Make sure you water the tree properly, you don not want any dry pockets. Once finished, leave the tree to grow for at least 2 years.

Finally we had Rudi Adam finish off the evening with a demo on Maples, a few points Rudy raised, was to look at a tree in different seasons before choosing it as bonsai material. You want to choose stock that has not only beautiful colours in spring and summer but also beautiful reds in autumns. Something to note is that all Chinese Maples have different size leaves. When choosing plants for multiple plantings make sure they come from the same stock. It is advised to shape trees when they are young.

There was a call out for anyone interested in helping with the Africa Bonsai Convention, they urgently need volunteers and also people to help with administration and communication, if anyone wants to get involved please contact Peter Bruyns.

We once again had a raffle, R10 bought a ticket and there were some very nice tools up for grabs. Better luck next time for me.

Thank you everyone for attending, and bringing your trees with, make sure to bring even more next time! Thank you also for all the speakers, we look forward to hear and learn more from you again soon. See you next month.

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