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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September Meeting Report

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An excellent meeting when we concentrated on juniper styling and development with Club member Peter sharing his knowledge and experiences with these trees.  He brought two of his own to the meeting and admits that he is rather fond of Itoigawa. Giving a brief history on their development, he explained that personally he prefers a rounded mound of healthy, mature foliage, as opposed to the more open and splayed
out styles or pom poms.  The vigour of junipers is in their foliage and this is where the maintenance is most important.  The presentation covered all aspects of juniper development.  It was interesting to note that styling seems to fall into two camps – either following the rigid, traditional Japanese standards or those of the more flamboyant Western-European influence.
The Club’s display table again indicated members’ keen interest in the topic of the evening with a very generous contribution of different juniper species with their shades of colouring, styles, sizes and in various stages of development.  The displays always provide a gathering point for people to view and discuss what is on the table.  It is an informal means of encouraging members of all abilities to show their trees and share their experiences.  In the second half of the evening some trees were selected from the display and discussed.
Mike was on hand to assist with the many questions and answers that followed.  Clearly a popular tree with members and its a juniper that is being provided as top prize for the Club’s first end-of-year raffle.  Thank you Peter for sharing your interest and knowledge with us.
Next month is a Club project. With Peter again, who is stepping-in to replace Mike, it will be a group practical evening.  Following an introduction, members will be taking on wiring young larches and starting the shaping process of a tree to take home afterwards and continue its development.  So it will be an extra busy time as members will also be bringing with them display trees and their toolboxes.  With the Heathrow show fast approaching, its also a time for our members to prepare and titivate their chosen show specimens and get their trees to Olly for transportation.  Apologies for my error in last month’s report when I mistakenly said Olly would be getting some young junipers.  He will be bringing larches for the October meeting.
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August Meeting report

Another busy, full-on meeting with lots of activity.  First up was the unusual sight of a number of named objects wrapped in newspaper.  All was revealed when members IMG_3833opened their packages to reveal their finished accent pots made at April meeting in raw clay, now glazed and fired by China Mist and looking very different.  There was a lot of excitement and a selection of finished items are shown here:

Next event was a display of various items for our first Club raffle to remind members, who have been obtaining tickets at meetings, what is on offer.  The original intention was to win a well maintained tree in a good ceramic pot but, in addition to this, people have kindly donated further prizes for the draw which will take place at our December meeting.  Thank you to our donors for their generosity.

Then came the presentation of the Alan Taylor Shield to the club member who achieved the greatest number of votes by the public who viewed our competition trees at the Market Bosworth Show in July.  The winner was Dave C. with his hollow trunk Chinese Elm.  Why a hollow trunk?  This tree has history – it was accidentally set alight resulting in damage to its trunk.  However, the tree survived and its recovery is remarkable to become a winner.  Well done Dave with his success.

Dave giving a Club talk on his tree at a former meeting, and being presented with the member’s trophy by Olly who was the 2017 winner.

Members are very good at bringing trees to meetings for the display table regardless of ability.  The theme for this month was styling and we were not disappointed with the variety on show.  The trees took part in the next part of the programme for a quiz on

general styling organised by Carol with Mike assisting.  10 trees with different styles were selected and numbered.  Members had to list the relevant style of a numbered tree, with a little help from printed handouts.  It certainly got people thinking and was a lot of fun.

Answers were given with an overview on each style.  Lists were totted up and Ruth was the winner with 9 correct answers.  Well done, a splendid achievement for one of our fairly new members.  We also congratulate her on her recent marriage with every good wish.

Finally, following on from a Special General Meeting in July when we sadly learned that two officers, Chair Mike K, and Secretary Trevor B, were needing to step down from their commitments due to ongoing health issues; Club members were asked to think about the future of the Club.  It was declared at August meeting that the positions remain unfilled and members voted to continue with Club activities to end of the year when the situation will be reviewed.

The Club is indebted to Mike (left) and Trevor (right) for their hard work over the years in steering the committee and for their efforts in establishing the new set-up for Leicestershire Bonsai Club.  They were also very active in arranging for the Club to display at other shows, namely Heathrow and Coventry, to raise awareness of LBC with other clubs and the public.  Mike is undergoing chemo and will continue in the Club as and when he is able to.  Trevor is taking time out to be with his family during his recovery process.  We wish them both our very best wishes during their periods of treatment.

Our next meeting on 5 September will be on Junipers and their styling.  Members are asked to bring along junipers for the display table and to contact Olly if they want to be supplied with young junipers to style.

 

 

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July Meeting report

Quite a busy meeting, as we had to fit in a short formal meeting to discuss some Club Business following the announcement that our Chairman would have to resign his positions on Health grounds.

That done, the winner of our annual club competition for the Alan Taylor Shield was announced.   This competition is part of our annual display at the Market Bosworth Show, where the public is invited to vote for their favourite bonsai and the winner of the most votes will be awarded the shield for twelve months.

Below is a picture showing part of the display.

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We managed to get 449 votes this year (not quite beating our record from last year).  Every tree on display got at least five votes, which is encouragement for our new or less experienced members who displayed trees for the first time.

The tree with the most votes and winner of the shield was the tree in the top centre of the picture above.  A hollow trunk Chinese Elm owned by Dave C. which got 112 votes.

Congratulations to Dave who will hold bragging rights for the next 12 months.

Close runner ups were Mike K’s European Hornbeam and Herb H’s English Elm with 88 and 82 votes respectively.

We then came to the planned part of the meeting, which was a short presentation about  PESTS and DISEASES affecting bonsai.

We are a small club and Speakers fees can be quite expensive, so we encourage our more experienced members to make presentations about bonsai related topics and it was Peter H. who took on this topic.

Peter gave an informative talk about how to spot and treat a variety of pests and diseases and gave advice on how to ensure that our trees were strong enough to deal with minor infestations through good pot selection, good feeding and watering regimes and the individual siting of trees.

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He also explained the difference between systemic and contact treatments for both insect and fungal problems and mentioned that some tress do not react well to systemic treatmets.

Peter then surprised us with an interactive and informative quiz about bonsai tools.

He had prepared this quiz of his own back, just in case there was a bit of time at the end of his presentation.

There were some tricky questions in there, which had some of the members scratching their heads.

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A big thank you to Peter for his efforts on both the talk and the quiz.

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Leicestershire Bonsai Club – Members’ Workshop 16 June 2018

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Carol and her husband Alan were the hosts of this Members’ Workshop at their home in Oadby.  They have been members of the Club for over five years and were pioneers for the Club workshops having hosted the first one five years ago almost to the day.  Carol is currently Club Treasurer and Administrator and sometimes posts web reports on Club activities.

Members’ Workshops are usually monthly during the growing season on a Saturday and hosted by a member at their home.  The idea behind the workshops is to provide practical “hands on” experience and tuition on an informal basis.  It provides an opportunity for dedicated bonsai time in our all too busy lives.  As a Club we cater for all abilities from the beginner to the more experienced up to a trained adviser.  It’s an open workshop in that members can bring any number of trees to work on and attendees can come and go as their personal time will allow.  It is expected that the more experienced will help novices to get started and encourage them to  gain knowledge and confidence in the art of bonsai.

Members bring their own trees, pots, tools, materials and other equipment plus their packed lunch if required.  The hosts provide a place to work, drinks, biscuits and convenience facilities.  Tools and equipment are shared with beginners who may have limited resources and advice is given on where to obtain supplies and where to go for more intensive workshops.  It’s also an opportunity to get to know fellow members better and discuss shared experiences and bonsai problems; or maybe given a tree or rootstock or pre-bonsai material for developing on.  Sometimes a workshop may have a dedicated theme or project according to seasonal requirements or an up and coming event.  This June workshop provided an opportunity for trees and accents to be finally prepared for the Market Bosworth Show which is an annual event for us.  We are putting on a public display and can be found in the Flower Marquee.  For further details of the show refer to http://www.marketbosworthshow.co.uk which is taking place on Sunday, 1st July 2018.

In the past we have  done group planting sessions in shallow trays, root over rock, cascades, Juniper cultivation, hedgerow gathering, a Club Larch project as well as show preparation work are some of the past workshop themes.

They take place outdoors and are dependent on the weather and shelter when it rains.  We have been fairly lucky with our workshop dates in that they are not normally hampered by weather conditions.  These workshops are Free and for members only.

IMG_2561Eyes down and concentrating hard, some of the group at the June 2018 Workshop get on with their tasks in hand. The next workshop is scheduled for 8 September and the last one for this year.

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Leicestershire Bonsai Club – 5 June 2018 Meeting

With apologies to regular readers for lateness of this report.  I ask, Where does the time go?

That could also be said of our last meeting as the time flew with a very full programme delivered by our guest speaker Graham Walker who made it to Leicestershire from his home in Yorkshire and his first visit to the Club.  Graham has been involved with bonsai for over 20 years and now specialises in Mame and Kifu size bonsai but over the years has worked with most sizes.  He has won prizes at UK shows and has visited big shows in Japan where thousands of people attend a four-day event.

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Graham Walker with selection of small tress from his collection

His presentation was on Mame and Shohin size bonsai and the displaying of.  He brought along a selection of his own trees and started by explaining the sizing of bonsai.  As a general rule, for Mame and Shohin, both must be able to be held on the palm of one hand.  They are measured from the soil level to the apex tip of the tree for classification.  Classification can vary in different places but in UK a Mame is usually up to 15cms (6″) high and Shohin up to 25cms (10″).  These two sizes are about middle of the range in sizing but the same aim for all is to develop and produce a miniature tree that can portray its much larger counterpart living naturally and depict age and shape.  The variety of plant material that can be used to produce small bonsai was identified by Graham with his trees.

After development of a tree comes the selection of a suitable pot to plant it in for displaying in a show.  The right pot will enhance a tree’s overall effect and due consideration should be made to achieve this.  In the UK we have a number of excellent potteries  We were wowed that Graham was able to name the manufacturers of all the pots his trees were in (back to pots again for LBC)! including their styles, and an explanation on the use of glazed and unglazed pots.

A demonstration on displaying and presentation followed.  We were reminded not to forget the importance of accent enhancement with our trees.  Examples of materials that can be used range from planted pots and dishes to rocks, ceramics, figurines as well as wood, glass, fabric and plastic items.  The creative opportunities are unending.  Whether its for texture, shape or colour, it must be meaningful and complement the tree in its pot and provide flow to the visual scene.  The same applies to scrolls, tokonoma (rooms), stands and tables used in displays.  The seasons of the year can also play an important part in display design.

Mame and smaller Shohin tend to be displayed using multi-tiered stands.  Using different styles of tiered stands, Graham placed his trees in the apertures and we were advised how to interpret symmetry, balance, flow and understand the elements influence.  Whether its two or nine trees in the group, there are certain avoidances to be considered like putting pots together of same style or colour, or trees being all same species, size or shape.  We were advised to imagine a stand as a mountain and put a mountain growing tree at the top.  Graham also asked, does it matter which way the trees point, left or right?  And then explains the reasoning.  Tables can be used to bring trees to same height at same level and adds another interest.  Graham prefers to see all smaller trees mossed for display – although birds can be a nuisance with moss on top of soil, and larger Shohin to be dressed with akadama.

It was explained how to ‘read’ a display.  Using a five-tier stand, he moved trees around juggling the shapes and styles with different positioning.  What way is that tree pointing? he would ask.  Is it flowing with others or not?  Flow is the guiding factor to achieve balance.  Also don’t forget about the elements in the composition.  For example, five trees + a scroll + an accent  =  seven elements.  Members at the meeting were invited to put together their own displays using all the material available and Graham would give his opinion  and change them, giving the reasoning and his invaluable experience.

Following a break, Graham continued with a photographic presentation of his 2008 visit to Japan to see a Shohin and Mame Show, and his 2017 visit to the Japanese World Wide Convention.  It was interesting to note that in Japan they do not use Latin names for species identification.  They have their own taxonomy.

Thank you Graham for visiting Leicestershire Bonsai Club and delivering a very interesting programme to a good attendance of members.  We also had an amazing show of members’ small trees brought to the meeting.  Clearly a popular topic with the Club.

 

We also extended a warm welcome to Herb and Val from Whitwick visiting us for the first time.  In the given Notices, it was announced that Carol and Alan are running a Members’ Workshop from 10.30am on 16 June in Oadby.  Members were reminded about the up and coming Market Bosworth Show on 1 July and getting trees ready for our annual display and Club Membership Trophy event for the show.  The workshop would be a good opportunity to finalise material for this show.  At next meeting on 3rd July, Club member Peter will be giving a talk on pests and diseases that can affect bonsai in our area and how to deal with them.  Also quarterly subs are due in July.

 

 

 

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We continue to be a little potty!

I too had intended putting something on the web to expand on our last meeting but, like Olly, who has just put on pictures of our May meeting with a little article, I too have been overwhelmed with other matters that have prevented time being made available before now.  Bonsai maintenance can be added into this.  I can become totally absorbed with my trees and time just disappears.  Personally I find tending my little charges rather therapeutic and wish I had more time to do everything that needs doing with such an assorted collection.

However, back to our last Club meeting and yet another busy occasion.  Olly Olson was at last presented with the Club trophy for winning the most popular tree by public vote at the Market Bosworth Show last year.  We think the previous winner did not want to part with the Club’s new shield but no hard feelings as Olly’s Boulevard Cypress was the best on this occasion.  Here is the proud winner with his trophy and tree.  Congratulations to Olly.

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Unable to find a maple speaker for the meeting, we had a change of programme to a ‘tree surgery’ and discussion on problems members were experiencing with their trees.  Mike gave us a potted history on a particular maple he had brought along which had been difficult to wire as branches were so brittle.  It suffered from a hailstone storm that broke off a large branch resulting in a 7 year recovery period to get the tree back into a reasonable shape again.  Then it began to look rather sickly and removal from its pot revealed a huge bug happily chomping on a large root.  Ouch.  One unlucky tree!  Another  tree viewed had lost its middle apical stem resulting in a catapult style with two upward side branches. Other issues covered were watering; which wire to use – aluminum or copper; and a lengthy debate on decandling pines.

The display table became two tables, plus window sills used to accommodate all the trees that had been brought in for seasonal viewing.  Thank you to the members who had brought in so many.  Mainly maples in various sizes, and groups in their Spring colours.  There were some other interesting trees including a magnificent flowering crab and a really tiny mame flowering forsythia that had come from Japan.   Also a fascinating accent planting of  mauve flowering peonies grown from bulbs looking like and related to orchids.  When the unexpected comes in for display it makes an interesting topic of conversation and much appreciated.

Then we looked at pots again from another angle.  We didn’t need to make these.  Peter brought along a collection of small pots and organised a quiz to name each potter.  It was good fun as we gathered round and peered hard at maker’s marks and styles looking for recognition.  Quite educational to learn the answers.  Well done Peter.  We welcome to our membership Keith and Simon who are beginners.  Lovely to have you join the Club.

Olly is hosting another Members Workshop on 19 May.  It clashes with the Royal Wedding so perhaps Olly will have thoughts on how to compete with that?

Rounding  off this month’s activities, members were reminded that Greenwood Bonsai at Arnold, Notts, are celebrating their 40th year and putting on special events this year.  Corin served his bonsai apprenticeship with Bill Valavanis in USA.  Bill will be at the Greenwood Studio which is providing an opportunity to see this Master at work as he conducts workshops and free demonstrations over the three days.  There are still some places available for the tuition sessions – see http://www.bonsai.co.uk for further information.

Next month there is a change of programme and Graham Walker will be visiting the Club meeting to give a talk and slide presentation on mame and shohin trees.  Alan & Carol will be hosting the June workshop and will be a good opportunity to finalise trees for display at Market Bosworth Show on 1st July.

It’s good to be able to enjoy some good weather at last after our long winter.  Hope fellow enthusiasts are grabbing the opportunity to catch up on their bonsai work too.

        

 

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May,s Meeting

Sorry for the delay with posting the report from the meeting this month. We had a good turnout for a session on problem trees. Members brought trees that have problems or just wanted advice on. Thanks to Mike who tried to help out with the problem trees. Pete organized a quiz on potters/pots. He brought along a collection of pots with a list of all the makers, and members had to see if the could recognize who made the pots. Well done to Rebecca who got 10/10.  Again a good display of members trees were brought to put on display. Everybody loved the final pot in the photos which Pete did not know the maker was. I have found out it was made by Daryn Grossmith.

 

A reminder that the next Workshop is at Ollys on Saturday the 19th May 10-10.30 start

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Leicestershire Bonsai Club goes potty!

As can be seen from previous report of our last meeting on 3 April 2018, the Club had the pleasure of Chinamist bonsai pottery visiting.  Always a highlight event and we had a very good turnout of members wanting to hand craft accent pots on this occasion.  Good to see Steve & Alison again and thank you for making the trip to us.  We look forward to seeing the results of finished pots after glazing and firing in about 10 weeks. It truly was a busy evening with not only the pot making, but accent plants were brought in and swapped with a view to planting up our new pots for an accent competition some time later.  Members also brought trees in for display indicating seasonal development.  The new project of Club raffle is proving very popular and the main item of a tree is brought in every month for members to view.  Further items have been donated as additional prizes and there is quite a collection on offer now.  Thank you Chinamist for donating a mug.  Only members can participate in purchase of tickets and the draw takes place in December.  We are also displaying a bonsai calendar each month to inform on what we should be doing during the year and hoping this will be particularly useful to beginners working on their trees.

The Club is buzzing at the moment with lots going on with new members joining, former members returning, and visiting first timers coming to see what we do.  However, at the April meeting we said farewell to Alan Moore a long serving member who helped establish Wigston Bonsai Club in 1992 (our former club) and undertook the role of Treasurer for over 20 years.IMG_2201Alan has developed sight problems and can no longer continue with his bonsai.  Thank you Alan for your devoted and continuous service with us over the years and we are sorry to see you go.  With all good wishes for the future and take care.  We hope you will pop back to see us again when you can.

With workshops and show displays up and coming throughout the year, members are reminded that we have a further workshop this Saturday 10am – 2pm and details have been sent out together with the request to also bring display trees for transportation to the Coventry Show taking place next day.  Phew, it’s a busy month.  We just want the cold long winter to stop now, the wet weather to finish, and some sunshine and warmth to encourage our trees to open their leaves and some blossom to burst forth!

At our next meeting on 1st May we will be looking at maples –  a very nice topic.  Come and join us if you are in or near Leicestershire, situated in the East Midlands of England.

 

 

 

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China Mist Evening

Last Tuesday Steve and his wife from China Mist came down for a workshop at the club making Accent Pots. It was a good turn out with some old faces returning. Everyone got stuck in and some good looking pots were taken back to Doncaster for Steve to work his magic. We also had an Accent swap which went down well.

Once again a Big Thanks to China Mist. Don’t forget the workshop at Olly’s on Saturday 14th April and the Coventry Show on Sunday 15th April.

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