Thursday, January 30, 2014

Duranta erecta "Sheena's Gold" - another fun exotic.

This ornamental shrub growing up to 2 meters is a native from Florida to Brazil and in the West Indies, Golden dewdrop or Pigeon berry or Sky flower is a spreading, sometimes weeping, evergreen shrub or small tree.

The tree is not frost hardy and must be overwintered where temperatures falls below freezing.

When actively growing it needs a lot of water and can be fed regularly.

Sharp axillary thorns are usually present on stems of mature plants, but are usually absent on young plants.

Features drooping axillary and terminal racemes of light blue to violet flowers which bloom summer to fall. Flowers give way in fall to drooping clusters of yellow-orange drupes (golden dewberries as it were).

The tree is an ideal beginners bonsai because it adapts well to most bonsai practices. The only drawback of the tree is that the deadwood is soft and rots away quickly. It must be treated.

This species in common in the garden nursery trade and nice trees can be find.

The species lend itself well to smaller bonsai

How do you treat a nursery tree?
 (November 2013)

 Cut it back very hard!
(November 2013)
To play safe I left some green, but it is not necessary if the tree is healthy and growing strongly. My plan for the tree is a small, not higher than 20cm broomstyle bonsai. All the wounds are sealed to prevent water from reaching the deadwood. The cambium will roll over, but it will take a while!

The tree today (30 January 2014):

How fast growth do you want!

The tree will be left to grow out a little more before cutting back and being wired. Will update then.

A few other Duranta projects I am working on - most of them are still in progress.

This one is my oldest project:
 November 2013:
Duranta 2, 2011:
 November 2013
Duranta 3- 4, all November 2013:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The strangler style by Mack Boshoff.

Mack Boshoff visited our Kai on Saturday, 18 January and did a demonstration on the strangler style. The pictures are self explanatory :

Links to other information on the style:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ficus Burtt-davyi - Ugly duckling changing into a swan.

Starting serious bonsai growing in 2009 I got this ugly Ficus from a young up-and-coming bonsai artist selling his father's stock without his permission!

At that stage I was hunting for the species and did not care if it had potential or not. The main reason I bought it was to obtain some cuttings from it. Soon afterward I got some better material from another guy and decided to give the tree a go.

The tree October 2009 after growing freely from the time I bought it:

This is the tree the same month after chopping the leader and cutting back a few twigs:

That sure looks ugly!

The trunk had a nice line and taper - the biggest problem was the big ugly bulge that was left after the tree was chopped by the first owner.  As soon as the tree recovered from the cut back I have cut away the ugly bulge leaving an even uglier wound. To help the wound grow over I only cut back twigs once a year. I also realized that I would have to hide the wound for a few years until it has grown over - deadwood is not an option when it comes to Ficus.... no hollow trunk for this ugly duckling! The tree was also planted into a shallow but wider pot and I feed it on a regular basis with organics.

The tree recovered well and in 2012 it has changed into something!

An ugly duckling changing into a swan:

The wound is growing over nicely - another two years and the chop mark will be gone. From 2012 I cut back growth regularly to get some twiggy growth going. In January 2014
I repotted the tree into a bonsai pot:

 I had to cut two long coiling roots - to help the tree recover I also cut back the twigs. The tree will be left in a shaded area to recover. The tree is about 10cm high.

Another pic to show the size:

(Some info on the species here: . What most people do not know that this species is a rambler growing on rocky cliffs.)