Club Meeting Novermber 2013

by Pieter Loots

Carl Morrow was up first discussing conserving bonsai heritage. He quoted Roy Lichtenstein saying, "I want to make my work look like it was programmed, to loose the look of my hand". Trees are ever changing, unlike some art. The question Carl raised was do we keep the original style of the artist or do we change it? Very good question, and worth more discussion in the future I am sure.

Amith Ramballie spoke about creative growing containers. He showed us how we can up cycle old car tyres. Although not a real pot, as it still has a hole at the bottom, tyres can be turned inside out, painted, the edges can be cut, and they can be quite beautiful long lasting planting containers.

Defoliation-How and why? Was the topic Trevor Venables spoke to us about. We do it because it is stressful for the tree. Which means we should only defoliate a healthy tree. It is done to increase ramification, to reduce leave size and to provide good autumn colours and also to regulate growth. Mainly on deciduous trees.

Partial defoliation is done by taking off the bigger leaves. It is done to regulate growth. Best times to do it is mid or late summer, or in the middle of the dormancy period. To strengthen a weak branch, you defoliate all branches but the weak one.

Risks involved are that you might not get the desired growth, you might get die back, leaves might get bigger or an increased risk of pests.

We had quite a few club members attend the SABA convention. Guest speakers included Walter Paul, Michael Hagedorn, Rob Kempinski and quite a number of South African speakers.

Michael Hagedorn designed a classical shimpaku juniper. His handling was elegant and sensitive. He explained that in order to create vigour and ramification it is important to pinch the tree. Big cuts invigorate and small cuts weaken. Junipers will gain vigour if grown like this. With carving try to remain as invisible as possible. And with yamadori it is important where the branch ends up not where it comes from. " Work with the tree to find a balance, do not dominate the tree, rather have a conversation with the tree."

Walter Paul was one of the highlights of the convention. He says open your heart when designing a tree, for a bonsai to be good it is essential that it brings out the spirit of the tree. Explore new ideas and concepts. Do not make pads look like broccoli, allow space and air through the canopy so that it is transparent and not fully green. He explained a hedge pruning method where in early spring he prunes the outline, and does this 3-4 times through the growing season.

There was also a young designers competition at the convention, and our very own Amith Ramballie came second, congratulations on that Amith.

I hope you all have your trees ready for the show as that will be our next meeting place, enjoy working on your trees.