Sunday, 4 August 2013

On the 18th July, I found myself in deepest darkest Essex, at Bushukan Bonsai Nursery, which is also the home of Southend Bonsai Society. I had not been to Bushukan since the days when Barry Lemon ran the nursery.
The current owner Chrissie  Leigh - Walker who I am sure you have heard of, has made a lot of changes to the place and continues to do so. This woman never stops working, and she was flat out working on new projects throughout the afternoon that I was there. Along with other work at the nursery, Chrissie has a special project underway in the garden which I can't divulge but which is going to be super, so keep looking out for any news flashes to say when it is finished.
If your in the Hockley area I would recommend that you visit Bushukan, it is worth taking a look and you won't get a friendlier welcome.
As well as being a bonsai lover, Chrissie is also starting to branch out into ceramics and I am sure she will be a great success in that field too.
Unfortunately I did not take my camera with me otherwise I would have posted some pictures from the nursery and of some of Chrissie's ceramics.
The members of the Southend BS, are a lovely group of people with some nice trees. The evening meeting flew by, everyone in the room was involved in my critique and some great questions were put forward. Nothing makes the evening go so quickly than good audience participation. I really enjoyed my visit and I hope it will not be my last. It was 'Well gel'!

In my last post I said I would give my thoughts on carving in my next blog. But unfortunately I have have been sifting through thousands of images to illustrate the points I want to make, but I cannot put my hands on the ones I am looking for. So my ideas and thoughts on carving will follow in the future, I have started writing but I need images to highlight what I mean.

Some of the work I am currently doing on my own trees has been the removing of berries on my junipers.
Any fruits growing on our bonsai are taxing for the tree. The tree is expending energy on producing fruit, that it could be using on foliar growth.
Take a look at this Phoenicea Juniper here below;

It is very heavily laden with berries. At this stage of the game, I am looking to generate strong tight foliage on this particular tree. However this will be impaired if I leave these berries to run their course to maturity.
To produce good foliage and allow these berries to mature means that the trees resources are being divided between two different jobs and the fruit will take more energy from the tree to produce than it will take to grow the foliage.So it is a bit like driving with your foot on the brake!
So I have to remove them to channel all the energy into the foliage.

 And again here with this Itoigawa seen right, we can see the junipers berries. On this particular tree, even more so than with the Phoenicea, the berries are a drain on the tree. The reason here is that this bonsai has only been out of quarantine a month. The root ball is very compact and it has not been taking watering well, and I have had to use enzymes on the root ball to open it up a little to buy time until I can repot the juniper at a more suitable time of year. From the foliage colour, which is not the good dark green colour that I would expect from this species. I can tell that the juniper is not functioning at it's optimum. So the last thing this juniper needs is the extra energy drain of the berries. So many long hours will be spent taking off all the berries from my junipers, not everyone's favourite job, but a very important job nonetheless. It's handy if you have a student who is willing to do the menial jobs to learn. Thanks Matt.

Just for a comparison, here you can see a berry from a Chinese Juniper var. Itoigawa (left), and a berry from the Phoenicea Juniper (right).

Of course it is not just juniper berries that can be a drain on the tree. The berries of Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna and Blackthorn Prunus spinosa have the same effect.
As will the fruits on this Crab Apple below.

And of course Chaenomeles sp. are yet another favourite species which can be prolific bearers of fruit. And the quinces they produce are not small either. So on small trees like shohin, letting your Chaenomeles produce a crop of fruit can be disastrous.

Just imagine a good crop of these (below) on your shohin Quince.

So although July may not be a great month necessarily for tree styling, there are always little jobs that we need to do by way of maintaining our trees. This work can be for aesthetic as well as for health reasons.
When removing large fruits or fruits with a long petiole, simply cut through the petiole with sharp pruning scissors.
Juniper berries can be removed with tweezers.
On species like Phoenicea Juniper and Juniperus oxycedrus which sometimes give the impression they want to hang on to their berries, be careful when removing the berries. The stalk/petiole is too short for scissors. So tweezers or finger tips are best used. But be careful to twist the berries to fascilitate their removal. Just pulling can result in ripping of tender growth which can lead to die back due to dessication.

I would like to share with you this bronze of two cockerels fighting entitled 'Not on my patch'.
It is a wonderful piece which could be displayed with a bonsai of both Japanese or Western origin.
The movement it captures is exquisite and I think that using quality companion items with quality trees for display, is the only way to go.