About Colin Spain

The Official Blogger for Great Nomads Travel and Cruise

June Meeting 2018

Lindsay Hadland from the Yarra Valley Bonsai Group gave a talk on bonsai.

Main points:

  • The literal Japanese meaning of ‘bonsai’ is ‘tree in a pot’, but the accepted definition of the term is ‘a miniaturized but realistic representation of a tree found in nature.’ The craft dates back to ancient India, when travelling apothecaries carried living herbs in pots.  The Chinese copied this custom from the Indians and developed it into an art form, practised by learned men over 1000 years ago. From there it was soon taken up and further developed by the Japanese. It has been depicted in paintings from at least 706 AD.
  • Parts of a bonsai:
    • Trunk line – the most important feature
    • Nebari – where the base of the trunk meets the soil – the second most important feature
    • Branches
    • Twigs and canopy
    • Taper – important to stop the plant just looking like a stick in a pot
    • Pot – must blend with and complement the tree
  • In nature, tree shapes vary from the mountains to the plains, due to differing environmental conditions: soil, wind, water, light.  Bonsai aims to emulate this. The various styles of the individual trees are
    • Informal upright
    • Formal upright
    • Slanting (as if leaning toward the light)
    • Semi-cascade
    • Cascade
  • The form of the bonsai in the pot can also vary:
    • Forest (groups of the same species)
    • Clump (single tree with multiple trunks coming from the base)
    • Multi-trunk (similar to clump, but with the trunks coming from further up the main trunk)
    • Raft – emulating the situation in nature where a tree has blown over but still has its roots in the ground and sends up multiple trunks
    • Windswept
    • Literati: simply a work of art rather than emulating natural growth
    • Root-over-rock: as when a seed in nature sprouts on top of a rock, sending its roots over the rock and into the soil below
    • Broom – the whole clump forms a broom-like structure.
  • Rules of bonsai – which can be broken at times!
    • Branch placement going up the trunk: leftžrightžback
    • First branch should be ⅓ of the height of the tree above the pot
    • Branches should be progressively closer together going up the trunk
    • Apex should be domed
    • Height of tree should be 6 x diameter of trunk at nebari
    • Width of the pot should be ⅔ the height of the tree
  • Suitable trees for bonsai: In theory, any tree can be used but some are much easier than others. Look for the following attributes –
    • Small leaves
    • Tree able to back-bud on old wood
    • Able to tolerate extensive root work
    • Vigorous
    • Small flowers or fruit.  If these are not small, the tree can still make a convincing bonsai, provided it is not allowed to form flowers or fruit.
    • Deciduous trees are easier to work with than evergreens, especially Chinese elm, trident maple, beech, hawthorn, ash, larch
    • Easiest evergreens are pine, cedar, fir, spruce
    • Australian natives are becoming popular: banksia, melaleuca, leptospermum, ficus, callistemon, casuarina. Eucalyptus are difficult.
    • Flowering and fruiting plants: crabapple, cotoneaster, pomegranate, wisteria, pyracantha, azalea.
  • Bonsai tools: for beginners, just secateurs and ordinary workshop tools will suffice.  Specialized tools for the more expert include scissors, branch cutters, knob cutters, wire cutters, jinning pliers, tweezers, chopsticks, root rakes, fine saws.
  • Bonsai potting mix: there is no such thing as one ideal bonsai soil. It depends on what is locally available: pine bark, scoria, diatomite, zeolite. The mix must be free-draining with uniform particle size (sieve it!).  Avoid mixes with fine particles, including the commercially-available mixes. (Although the commercial mixes can be sieved to remove the fines, this wastes about 40% of the product). One recommended mix is 50-50 diatomite and orchiata pinebark from NZ, both with particle sizes 2 – 7 mm.
  • Bonsai sizes: tree heights range from 3-8 cm up to >1m. In Australia the classification is generally limited to 3 sizes: 5 – 15 cm, 13 – 20 cm, >20 cm. Based on weight, the 3 categories are: able to be lifted with one hand, able to be lifted with two hands, and requiring a forklift.
  • Creating a bonsaGrow the tree seedling in the open ground or in a growing potKeep it alive! Keep it moist but not too much – allow it to partially dry out between waterings.Fertilize quite heavily, aiming for rapid growth (but be aware of growing conditions in the tree’s natural environment). Opinions vary as to the frequency of fertilization. Lindsay uses Charlie Carp every Saturday during the growing period.
      • Let the treeling grow, clipping it back as required.
      • When the trunk is about ⅔ of the desired size, chop off the branches, leaving a small stub. This  will form a new leader below the stub.
      • Repeat the process with successive leaders.
      • As each leader grows longer, it will thicken, as will the trunk below it.
      • When the desired trunk thickness is achieved, cut off the branch.
      • New branches can be wired to grow in the desired direction.
      • Lift every 1 or 2 years to prune the roots. The ideal is to have fine roots close to the trunk.
      • Place the tree into suitable bonsai pot when it has reached the desired size.
    • Learning more about bonsai:
      • Join a club (e.g the Yarra Valley Bonsai Group)
      • Take a training course – available at YVBG, some nurseries etc
      • Attend workshops with a Bonsai Master, either local or international
      • Bonsai apprenticeships are available in Japan – a  very demanding 5-year course.
      • Books
      • Internet sites and blogs
      • You-tube videos (be sceptical)
      • Trial and error
    • Yarra Valley Bonsai Group
      • A young club, only 10 years old
      • Based in Mt Evelyn.
      • Meets 2ndTuesday of every month from 7.30 – 9.30 pm
      • Workshops last Saturday in the month, from 1 – 4.30pm
      • See website for more details.

    Lindsay brought a number of bonsai trees to illustrate his talk: a trident maple forest, a cedar, Chinese elm, leptospermum, banksia serrata.

      • Let the treeling grow, clipping it back as required.
      • When the trunk is about ⅔ of the desired size, chop off the branches, leaving a small stub. This  will form a new leader below the stub.
      • Repeat the process with successive leaders.
      • As each leader grows longer, it will thicken, as will the trunk below it.
      • When the desired trunk thickness is achieved, cut off the branch.
      • New branches can be wired to grow in the desired direction.
      • Lift every 1 or 2 years to prune the roots. The ideal is to have fine roots close to the trunk.
      • Place the tree into suitable bonsai pot when it has reached the desired size.
    • Learning more about bonsai:
      • Join a club (e.g the Yarra Valley Bonsai Group)
      • Take a training course – available at YVBG, some nurseries etc
      • Attend workshops with a Bonsai Master, either local or international
      • Bonsai apprenticeships are available in Japan – a  very demanding 5-year course.
      • Books
      • Internet sites and blogs
      • You-tube videos (be sceptical)
      • Trial and error
    • Yarra Valley Bonsai Group
      • A young club, only 10 years old
      • Based in Mt Evelyn.
      • Meets 2ndTuesday of every month from 7.30 – 9.30 pm
      • Workshops last Saturday in the month, from 1 – 4.30pm
      • See website for more details.

    Lindsay brought a number of bonsai trees to illustrate his talk: a trident maple forest, a cedar, Chinese elm, leptospermum, banksia serrata.

May 2018 Meeting

Penny Woodward on pest-repellent plants and pest control in gardens. Penny is the horticultural director of the ABC’s ‘Your Garden’ magazine, the author of seven books on gardening and the co-author of a book on tomatoes.

Main points:

• Healthy gardens are less likely to have pest problems. The start of a healthy garden is healthy soil, containing abundant microbial life, worms and fungi.  Compost – preferably home-made – is very important.

• To maintain a healthy balance:

o Avoid using chemical pesticides, which may kill the beneficial micro-organisms in the soil.

o Avoid over-watering and over-feeding plants, which can encourage rapid, sappy growth. Sappy growth produces pheromones, which attract pests.

o Avoid monoculture: grow many different plants together, both flowers and vegetables.

o Practice 3-year crop rotation.

o Encourage predators, especially spiders.  Don’t destroy their webs.  Ants can also be beneficial, although they do farm aphids, which can be controlled by banding the trunks of susceptible trees. Plant native plants and strongly-scented flowers to encourage birds; have water to encourage frogs and microbats.

o Don’t be in a hurry to destroy bugs.  Wait and see, tolerate a little damage, and nature will often work it out for you!

• Chemical-free pest control:

o Snails and slugs: use short lengths of poly pipe banded with copper tape around newly-emerging seedlings

o Birds: use exclusion net bags or waxed paper bags or flywire sleeves to protect fruit.  (Not perfect, as our native birds are very smart!)

o White cabbage butterflies: Buy or make imitation white butterflies to place amongst brassicas.  The real butterflies will not lay eggs on plants that appear to be already occupied.

o Scented plants can be grown near vulnerable plants so that pests are less likely to find them: sages (especially purple salvia officinalis and pineapple sage, salvia elegans), artemisia, rosemary, scented pelargoniums, dogbane (plectranthus ornatus), bronze fennel, lavenders, tree marigold, thymes, alliums, lemon grass, lemon verbena, bayleaves, winter savory.  Many of these can also be made into sprays and have other uses such as in pot pourri, as teas, embrocations, etc.

o Beware! Not all pest sprays on sale as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ are suitable. Pyrethroid sprays are not. Even some sprays derived from plant-based pyrethrins may have toxic additives. Penny recommended ‘ Yates Nature’s Way Citrus and Ornamental Spray’.

o Further assistance: Renaissance Herbs is a wholesale nursery which can give information about retail plant supply. Eco-Organic is a useful supplier of organic pest control

2018 Autumn Flower Show

The Autumn Flower Show is to take place this coming Monday. Attached is a copy of the Flower Show Categories just in case you have not received a copy.  The show will be judged by the popular vote of members.  Don’t forget to collect you 17 red dots and 1 gold dot as you enter the Club House.

Entries will only be received between 6:30Pm and 7:15PM, the only exceptions will be for Stewards assisting in the staging of the show.  There will be an area set aside on the veranda  outside the pro shop which is on the opposite side of the building to the usual main entrance.  Access can be obtained either up the rear steps or along the front veranda leading to the rear.  It is highly recommended that you carry out as much preparation prior to your arrival as space is limited.

There will be a trading table and the last lot of books will be available for sale.

Schedule

1. One exhibition bloom, truss or spike

2. One container of cut Flowers any number of stems, all of one type.

3. One container of flowers from tree, shrub or creeper all of one type – any number of stem, colour variation allowed

4. One container of mixed flowers, any number of stems

5. One container of dahlias, any number of stems, variety and colour variation allowed

6. One container of roses, any number of stems, variety and colour variation allowed

7. One rose

8. One container of autumn foliage any number of stems maximum size 75cm in any direction.

9. One container of fuchsia, any number of stems

10. One Fern, maximum bench space allowed 50cm x 50cm

11. One pot plant (no ferns)

12. One floral arrangement using fresh Flowers (Can be wired and use accessories – Floral Art).

13. Collection of succulents and/or cacti – at least three varieties or types. Maximum container size 50cm x 50cm

14. Floral design in a saucer

15. Bits & pieces in a coffee mug

16. Exhibit of Produce, one type, single or multiple pieces.  Maximum bench space allowed 50cm x 50cm.

17. Collection of produce using fruit, vegetables and/or nuts –at least three different types of produce. Maximum bench space allowed 75cm x 75cm.

Notice of Meeting 19 March 2018

Our speakers for the meeting next Monday at the Warburton Golf Club, will be speaking on weed identification and control of weeds in this area.  You are invited to bring along any weed samples that you may want help in identifying.  Especially if you can combine this with a photo of the weed in situ. This identification process could be the most valuable part of the presentation.

So get out in the garden and dig up you most vexing weeds (if they are surviving the drought)  and bring them along.

PS Bring a neighbour that has made positive comments about your garden. They just may like to be a part of our club.

Donations for 2017

I have finally caught up with the people involved in the Martyr Road and Waterloo Avenue house fires and presented to them their cheques.

The first photo relates to Janine and John Thompson-Stokell, (Waterloo Ave), and the other is of Nina Hellicare, (Martyr Road).

Each family received $1200 towards their endeavour to get their lives back on track. We wish them all the best and let them know that the club is proud to have helped in their time of need.

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Janine and John Thompson-Stokell, (Waterloo Ave)

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Nina Hellicare, (Martyr Road)

With the payment of these cheques the Club has donated just on $14,500 to worthy recipients since 2010.

 

2017 Christmas Party Photos

I’m sorry everybody. I had this post done the day after the party but for some reason it never actually arrived at the website. My apologies. Enjoy reliving the moments of frivolity.

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Christmas 2017 table arrangements.

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Tony from the Warburton Golf Club and Shirley setting up.

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Annie setting up the plant prizes for this year.

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The set up team Shirley, Annie and Jose

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Lovely set up at the Warburton Golf Club rooms and what a beautiful view.

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All done and ready to rock-n-roll. Lets get the show on the road.

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Welcome everyone.

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We had 12 tables of 8 set up around the main dining/club room.

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A beautifully cooked spit roast. The caterers did a great job.

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The salad table. All lovely.

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Eat up Bob!

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Pauline and Joseph

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Barbara got second pick in the lucky door prizes.

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The hyderangeas were a big hit and were the first to go.

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Who’s a happy prize winner – Megan the rock-n-roll queen.

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Lucky pair Sue and Penny with their prizes

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Happy winner Leonie with her geranium.

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Another winner Graham Hughes.

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Denise peeping through her Dogwood prize.

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Pauline with her beautiful hyderangea prize.

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Winners Russell and Gillian Brown

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Joy’s life Membership presentation.

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Members draw – Sunil started all this. Michael Keck was the last winner for this year.

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Save the last dance for me! Jose and Graham – the old knees and shoulders are not what they used to be but life is still great.