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.
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.
Wishing a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year to all our Members and readers.
As 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 opened 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.
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.
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.
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.
A big thank you to Peter for his efforts on both the talk and the quiz.
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.
Eyes 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.
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.
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.