Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coastal Georgia Bonsai Club - May Meeting

The Club held its May meeting under the big Oak at the Pfeiffer’s today. The day got off to a start with some needle plucking, as Luigi ambitiously worked on a tall, slender Japanese Black Pine. This tree was a good 5’ tall and was grown from seed to originally be part of a JBP tree line. He decided to transplant it into an unusual container—not Mica or ceramic, but more like a plastic. Bill located his chisel and drilled some drainage holes. After repotting the tree, Luigi wired the first two lower branches, but then left it at that. This tree could make an interesting Literati in time, if you like em’ big.

On the other end of the size spectrum, Bill and I separated a successful air layer of Koto Hime Japanese maple. The mother tree is said to come from Bill Valvanis’ original parent plant, which has produced over 10,000 cuttings. Most Koto Hime bonsai in the United States came from Valvanis’ mother plant. If you haven’t worked with Koto Hime, I’d recommend picking one up. I’ve had two in my collection for several years and they’re a delight to work with. My older tree produced a large amount of micro flowers this spring. The foliage is always in scale and the autumn colors are brilliant.

The layered section was a lower branch that would not be suitable for the final design of the tree. We started the layer about 2 months ago and it had already established a good number of roots. Nothing fancy went into the prep work. I believe we used one side of a shear to shed the bark down to the cambium, then spread rooting hormone over the section and covered it in moist sphagnum moss and a section of a plastic. We then placed wire around the bag to tighten the seal and conserve the moisture.

Bill prefers to plant a newly severed layer such as this in a container that will support the first branches. The lower branches were tied to wire coming from the base of the pot, an interesting technique. This adds much needed stability in order for the new roots to become established in the pot. This little one should make a great mini. We’re planning on doing some more layering off this tree and Bill has recently done a tray of cuttings with Rusty’s assistance. I believe he’s already produced three other mature trees from the mother plant.

Check out some photos of the process...

I got my first taste of a southern delicacy today—boiled peanuts. Why in the world you’d want to soften up a peanut is beyond me, but everyone else seemed to enjoy them. I stuck to the rice cracker/wasabi pea mix, a good choice for the Yankee among the group.

Thanks to Bill and Charlotte for hosting the event today. They really have a great selection of pre-bonsai, bonsai, pots, etc. at Bonsai Beginnings. I’ve never seen such a fine selection of Juniper procumbens. Be sure to make it out for a visit if you’re in the Savannah area.

Photos of the day...