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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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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