Club Display at the BTA Event

We had a great day at the BTA event in Ryton on Dunsmore.

All the preparations paid of and the stand looked great, presenting a variety of trees in various stages of refinement and reflecting the experience levels of all our members.  A big Thank You to everyone who entered a tree.

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There were also plenty of trees on show from other local bonsai societies.

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April Meeting

Our April Meeting was centred around planning our club display for the upcoming Bonsai Traders Association event in Coventry on Sunday, 14th of April.

Members brought along the trees they wanted to enter for the display.  We strongly encourage members of all levels to bring along their trees, as for us, the club shows have always been about showing the diversity of the club, rather than just showing specimen bonsai.

The first confirmed prizes for our annual raffle were announced at the start of the meeting.  These being a Wire Caddy, a China Mist Pot and a Bonsai Basics book.IMG_3393

Mike gave a short presentation on how to prepare a bonsai for a show and than handed over to Olly for the mock set-up.

We tried quite a few variations of layouts, with trees being moved about, stands swapped, etc, before we arrived at a display that all club members present agreed on.

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The rest of the evening was spent on refining and dressing trees ready for the show.

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March Members Workshop

Big Thank You to Olly and Karen, who once again opened up their garden for the early season re-potting workshop.

The weather was not too kind to us, being windy and quite cold, so turn out was low and we were forced to relocate to the garage for most of the morning.

Nonetheless, we managed to get through a good bit of re-potting work with plenty of general chat and advice (and plenty of hot drinks kindly supplied by Karen).

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March Meeting

Our Club meeting for March was all about re-potting and pot selection.

The display table was supplied with a good selection of trees in various stages of development and some nice accent plants in well matched pots.

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While it was still a bit early to think about re-potting the majority of trees, Mike brought along a Japanese Maple starter plant and a Japanese Hawthorn for the short demo.  Both trees had decided to forge ahead and start to leaf out in the unseasonal warm weather in the run up to the meeting and were ready to be used for the demo.

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Various reason were given as to when to re-pot and most importantly why to re-pot (or not as the case may be), and a short discussion was had on suitable growing media for young starter plants and more established bonsai.

This was followed by a short demo of re-potting and root pruning basics.

After the break we moved on to discussing pot selection for established bonsai.  Ben kindly brought along one of his Japanese Maples and a selection of pots for consideration.

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After a short introduction on how a pot will need to fulfil the horticultural needs of our tress (soil capacity, drainage, anchor points for securing the tree, etc.) we moved on to the aesthetics, using Ben’s maple and the selection of pots he had brought along.

The meeting finished with the announcement of the follow on workshop at Olly’s.

 

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February Meeting

The subject of the meeting was review and further development of the small Larch bonsai created from nursery stock late last year.  After all the (some may say boring) planning at the January meeting, it was good to get back in to hands on work on our trees.

A warm welcome was given to Chris who returned to the club after a year of work related absence and to Andy who joined the club as a new member.

Members brought along their creations to see what improvements can be made to the initial styling and get advice on how to progress in the coming months.IMG_4150

A lot of discussion was had about the necessity to bring good movement into the trunks at this early stage of development and some the members proceeded to add further bends or modify and exaggerate the existing bends in their trees.  Further advice was given as to the pruning and re-potting in the next few months.IMG_4147

There was time after the break, so we discussed some of the trees that were brought in for the display table. One of the trees, a nice specimen Larch belonging to Ben, was used to show how to wire the branches and how to get mature looking foliage pads by layering the branches.IMG_4152

The display table was well stocked with trees in all stages of development.IMG_4149

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Meeting and Events Calendar 2019

Our Meeting Calendar for this year is now live.  Please note that some of the meeting topics are still provisional and will be updated as and when they are confirmed.

 

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Merry Christmas

Wishing a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year to all our Members and readers.

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December Meeting – Club Christmas Social

47316555_368754123687022_6176365376276791296_nAs every year, the December meeting is when we hold our Christmas social.  New this year was the “Best Dressed X-mas Bonsai” competition and our first club raffle draw.  We started the Raffle earlier in the year and it proved very successful, raising plenty of money to continue this next year with further good prizes.   Prizes for the raffle were donated by Members and I would like to thank everyone who participated and made this new venture a success.

The evening started with Carol setting out the food (a splendid effort at short notice – Big Thank you Carol!) and then we commenced with a general Knowledge Quiz.  47345241_528380674304084_7705566199727259648_n

After the quiz we voted on the best dressed Bonsai and Rebecca swept the board with her beautifully decorated Larch Group, complete with snow and Victorian Street lighting.  Well done to everyone who put in the effort to enter a tree.

Then on to the Raffle draw.  Plenty of prizes to be had and everyone seemed to be pleased with their winnings.

All in all a great evening.

All that was left was to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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November Meeting Report

 

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The meeting was full on yet again as we gathered for our annual Think Tank session.  This is an opportunity for us to reflect towards the end of the year on our programme and activities and start planning for the next year.  For the first time a comprehensive questionnaire had been distributed to members and returned with their responses.  For some time there had been rumblings about whether it was time to change the format of the Club from the more traditional and formalised set-up and  run by an elected committee; to a more relaxed, social and spontaneous arrangement where the programme is decided on by a member or members, who would suggest a theme or idea for the next meeting and then organise it.  Other changes were mooted as well like reducing paperwork, the structure for paying subs, changing rules, having a club leader or administrator instead of AGMs and committee members with specific roles.  The upshot really being is the club running how the majority of members would like it to be.  We looked at the analysis of the responses and there were full discussions on the various aspects covered.  In the end we came full circle and was decided to continue to run as a constitutional club with perhaps a little more flexibility and in particular a better distribution of the workload of committee members.  It was heartwarming to see further members coming forward and offering to assist with the organisation of bitesize areas of responsibility and sharing the workload.  Hooray for sense and sensibility.  

The  raffle is looking good with no with eight prizes up for grabs,  they were on display for members to view.  It will be drawn at our next meeting and round off our end of year seasonal celebrations.  Raffle was a new venture introduced this year and has appeared to be a popular event.

Unfortunately, due to the busyness of the meeting, no pictures were taken this time of trees on the display able which had a theme of seasonal fruits and colours.   So this writer has taken some random shots of trees in her garden as the colours have been truly magnificent this year and leaves on deciduous trees seem to have stayed on longer.

Next month we let our hair down and look forward to our end of year seasonal social with food, a pub quiz, and theme for display table will be “dressed up for Christmas”.  After a busy year it will be great to relax and have some fun.       

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October Meeting Report

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It was heads down and a concerted effort at the meeting as we applied ourselves to a practical project that was equally enjoyable too.  First we had an introductory talk.

The topic was larches with club member Peter sharing his experiences with this species.  He brought in one of his trees which was a thug of a specimen (his words).  This Larix decidua/European Larch is approximately 80 years old, and certainly has history.  It was big, heavy, craggy and indicating its age with deadwood on the trunk.  Unfortunately it

was not at its best. During our very hot summer this year, both his larches had suffered.  In spite of extra tender loving care with shading and increased hydration, they struggled and sulked and were not happy at all and needles had grown long.  The European variety is coarser, slow growing and develops a characteristic splitting bark. The more refined looking Japanese Larch/L. kaempferi was introduced into the UK by the Forestry Commission because its faster growing, more vigorous and stronger.  Larches are deciduous conifers that have bright green new growth in Spring and vibrant autumnal colouring.

Naturally grown they have sloping down branches with a soft draping appearance.  When struggling they tend to lose their branches from the bottom upwards. Over winter the roots normally dehydrate and go brown.  As soon as new growth appears, the tree needs watering and the roots, when filled with water, become white.  During the new growth period, larches require continuous moisture.  Don’t pot them up before March. Check for wire cutting-in on swelling branches Apr/May time and remedy as required. Cutting back can be done Jun/July.  The European larch is prone to developing thick branching, particularly towards top of the tree.

Cut off the male/female white and pink flowers when they appear. Leave the green ones which are new budding branches but remove any underside growing buds.  Cutting is best for removal and also includes the cones as they appear in Spring.  Cones tend to sap the tree of its energy and it becomes less vigorous.  However, if preferred, the odd cone can be left on to fully develop for decoration purposes and fulfills the tree going through its seasonal cycle.

Although branches bend easily, its best to do this work in stages.  As far as styling is concerned, Peter believes the ideal style is the natural look.  Formal upright is not natural when branches want to slope downwards.  Broom and literati are also unsuitable whereas cascade is OK with its draped down appearance.  Thank you Peter for your guidance and another interesting talk for the Club followed by questions and answers.

Larches on display from members provided much discussion on the different varieties, colours, styles and sizes. One in a box was in training for root over rock.

After a break, members had the opportunity to choose a tree from a supply of seedling Japanese larches in plant pots.  This seemed exciting in itself as a babble of noise and activity erupted and selected trees were taken back to tables.  Then the project was announced – to wire and bend the trees for a start in styling.  A hush descended as trees were closely examined, decisions made, and wiring commenced.  The more experienced members guided beginners and, in spite of the determined concentration, it was great fun to be doing a group practical.  Trees were taken home afterwards and hopefully there will be another group follow-up on their progress.

This is Simon, a fairly new member, working on his tree.  He produced the start of a cascade, shown here beside a pre-bonsai starter tree.

It was another busy evening for us as in addition to the tree work, the members are also completing a questionnaire on the future development of the Club, and information was given out about preparing for the FOBBS show at Heathrow on 21 October where we will be putting on a Club display of our trees.

Next month we will be stretching our brains when we will be discussing the results of our questionnaire, deciding how we will be taking the Club forward and looking at programming ideas.

 

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