Monday, April 29, 2013

Buxus bonsai - slow but very rewarding.

My first "finished" bonsai I ever bought was this Buxus:

I bought it in April 2009 as a 10 year old bonsai. I mainly bought it because I had a lot of sticks in pots at that time and I so much wanted to exhibit something at our agricultural show.

This is the tree after I re-potted it December 2010:
Because the tree is so easy to grow I bought another one:

After some wiring and styling:

I really like the tree with it's three trunks - just have to decide on the best front.

Another one I am working on was bought as a nursery tree in November 2010. Here is a pic of the bush in January 2011:
After the first cut back I found a nice single trunk:
After letting it grow out for about three months after the cut back I styled some of the branches:
 From April 2011 I let the tree grow out freely. This is the tree in January 2013:
 I cleaned up the tree a bit and this is the tree after the clean up:
 I am very happy with the trees progression up to January 2013. I will have to be realistic about the outcome of the tree - it will have to be styled femininely.

From that time I have let it grow out again. I will probably have to place the tree a little bit deeper in the pot because of the three thick roots. Over a long time I will get some new roots to replace the current ones.

My personal experience on growing and styling Buxus bonsai:
1.  It seems that the trees grow through the year here in Rustenburg, South Africa.
2.  In my conditions the tree has to be watered every day.
3.  I have not bare rooted any of my Buxus- I yearly alternate removing half of the roots from the bottom and surface roots. I do this in spring.
4. I don't keep the tree heavily pinched. I allow new buds to grow out to about 10cmm before I cut them back. The result is a flush of new growth. In my growing season, almost 9 months long. I can do this cut back about 4-5 times.
5. The tree reacts well to wiring and the branches maintain their wired position after about two months- but be very carefull bending older twigs and branches because they are very brittle. Great care must be taken when bending growth close to old branches/trunks or they may snap off! On new trees I use cable ties on top and below a branches before bending them sharply.
6. When cutting back branches/twigs, do make sure there is some leaves left ot the branch may die.
7. These trees are fed throughout the year by using a mulch.
8. Some of my Buxus are kept in full sun and some get morning sun and dappled shade- in both scenarios they do well.
9. Pest on the trees are not common - I do get some scale during winter time. Malasol rid the trees very quickly of the pest.

Will post more pics soon.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Olea europaea spp. africana(Olienhout) - Take your time!

This small fruited variety of Olea is common here in South- Africa. They are frost hardy and prefer full sun. They are slow growing and they get very old with very hard wood.

For bonsai they are in general not grown from seed but grown from yamadori. Here is the typical habitat they grow in Rustenburg, South Africa:

This is the type of yamadori that you may find:
If you look hard enough you may find a once in a lifetime yamadori like this dug by Org Exley:
The best time to dig yamadori here is in early spring or early autumn but the trees can be dug any time of the year in temperate climates. The trees don't need many roots to survive the dig. Here is a extreme example of how little roots you need:
(Notice in the above pic- the trees grow here in clay soil.)

If the trees are dug in a dry season it does help if you keep the trunk overnight in a bath of water. The trunks can be planted in a normal good garden soil. Budding out of the yamadori differs tremendously with different trees- it can take up to one year for buds to show but most trees bud out within two months time.

Here are some trunks dug by Costa:

Once budding out the new growth grow very fast - but don't let that fool you! This is three months after this trunk was dug:

To get new branches to thicken up it may take years. Olive bonsai with nice thick trunks and nice nebari can be seen everywhere, but branches to fit the thick trunks are very rare! Best would be to plant the yamadori in the ground or big containers for the first few  years to grow out nice thick branches.

Here is a nice example of a bonsai grown from Olea europaea spp. africana

Here are two very beautiful forest settings made by Oom Theuns Roos from South Africa:

The trees react good to normal practices of bonsai. Twiggy growth is easy to obtain and the leaves reduce tremendously.

Because the wood is very hard carving is an option - but do wait with your refinement carving until the top growth have caught  up.

(Will post more pics soon.)