Thursday, September 25, 2014

Autumn and Bonsai...tis the season to plan ahead

Every season in bonsai brings something enjoyable.  Seasons also bring unique threats that we should understand and prepare to prevent...note the difference between preparation and reaction.  .  Activities geared toward  putting trees down for the winter successfully are essential for a good growing season next year and an enjoyable Autumn.   Activities associated with winter should begin in about September... at least for me in Indy.  So, here are  a few fall color shots of a nice root over rock Japanese Maple along with my fall fungicide/winter prep regimen complete with some whys and wherefores.

1) Fungicide: Of course I am spraying monthly during the growing season but fall is particularly cool and wet creating a great opportunity for fungus to take hold and weaken trees. Some fungi will not emerge as an obvious threat until spring when it wakes up. Juniper tip blights such as phomopsis or kabatina are good examples (copper is great but mancozeb is best).  Starting in mid September lasting though mid November I use a weekly application alternating between Daconil & Liquid Copper.   Using a 1.5 gallon pump sprayer I add 3 TBSP of either..not both.  I prefer to spray late in the day to avoid any sunburn.  Both chemicals need about 4 hours to dry.  So, check your weather.  And yes that is like EIGHT 6-8 applications of fungicide.  I am not a fan of a preventive systemic.  If something slips past my nuclear arsenal I will use propaconozol most of the time.

My last fungicide spray is with Lime sulfur/Copper mix.  This is the Bordeaux mix.  I do this when I am bringing trees in for the winter....a final time usually around Thanksgiving.

Spray the outer canopy, but do not forget to spray inside the canopy and direct your nozzle upwards to the underside of branches.

2) Fertilizing. Continue to fertilize. I use alfalfa tea with seaweed and fish which are relatively well balanced overall.  I have not read anything yet that compells me to switch to 0-10-10 for my trees in autumn.  Keep it simple.

3) Clean your overwintering area.  For some its outdoors, for others an unheated garage.  Either way clean it.  This means getting leaves, debris and any insects out of the way.  Spray the area with copper & malthion...I winter in a garage and do use a mild insecticide in the nooks and crannies.  I also wipe down overwintering tables.

4) Clean your trees.  Remove all the leaves from deciduous trees and any old fertilizer cakes from everything.  I use a toothbrush and soapy water with a little vinegar to clean the trunks of my deciduous trees.

5) Make your check list. Is there room for your trees?  Can they be accessible to you?  Is the cover for your winter home in good condition? Do heaters work?  If you winter in a garage, do you have good ventilation?  This is essential for keeping trees dormant and fungal diseases at bay.  More on that later.

So, that's it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Large Scots pine reworked

Happy 2014!  I hope everyone and their trees are coping with the weather.  Like everywhere else, Indy has been especially cold.  I call this tree my tri state pine, because in the three years I've had it, it's resided in three states.  First in Oklahoma, then to Geneva, Illinois for 2 years and now in The Indianapolis area for the last year..  I've spent the last couple weeks every morning at 4:30am working an hour at a time wiring the scots pine featured below.  Why an hour??  Well I have a day job but also because its been only 35f in my garage.  Perfect for dormant trees but not so much for fingertips. Here's a preview......

I purchased this tree in Tulsa Oklahoma in June 2010.  It had been somewhat neglected for various reasons.  The owner realized this and agreed to sell me the tree.  Soil was compacted, the pot was small, the foliage was out of balance and it had grown a bit scraggly as you can see below.  

Once the tree had been pruned selectively and fed properly for a season I moved the tree into a slightly larger wooden box.  The old soil had compacted and had large pockets of dry areas within the root mass where numerous roots had died.  I used a mix of pumice and akadama.

For my 40th birthday Jennifer surprised me with a day long 1on1 workshop with Ryan Neil.  Ryan worked all day to complete the first styling below.

After the styling with Ryan full sun and heavy feeding produced healthy growth and back budding.  I removed the wire mid winter 2012. 

You will notice that the first branch has been removed. For about 18 months I soaked on how I wanted to see the tree, and whether that branch fit the image. Then, one day I came home from work and "snip/snap" it was done.    It made an instant improvement in the tree.

So, lots more sun and fertilizer in 2013 continued to help the tree along its path of development. Below is the result of the 2nd styling which I completed in January 2014.

While in this summer visiting nurseries with friends led by Peter Warren, I found the right pot at Shunkaen, and Mr. Kobayashi made me a generous deal on it.  I wound up carrying it on the plane ride home as it would not fit in my suitcase.  The pot is an older Chinese pot, which is now beginning to develop a decent patina.


Thanks for reading and keeping up with my neglected blog. In my next post I will feature some of my observations from this summers trip to Japan...Stay Tuned!!