Chojubai – Dwarf Japanese Quince

The autumn colours are gone and winter is usually pretty drab in the bonsai garden unless you have flowering Japanese Quince. Also known as Chaenomeles, most of the garden varieties flower later in winter, before the leaves sprout but this variety, called ‘Chojubai’ has occasional flowers all year round and a more concentrated display right through winter.

Chojubai flowers

The brilliant orange flowers are small which is an advantage for bonsai.

 

 

 

 

 

Growth habit is a multi stemmed shrub. It appears to be difficult to grow as a single stemmed tree so most Chojubai bonsai seem to be clump style plants.

Michael Hagedorn has assembled some great photos in this post on his website – Diminutive Jewels

I acquired my original Chojubai from Joe Morgan Payler who says he has ‘a healthy obsession’ for this variety. Here’s a link to a post on nichigobonsai with photos he has taken at Japanese bonsai shows.

Chojubai are certainly spectacular in flower but they are slow growing so you should start yours now if you hope to get one into your local bonsai show.

 

 

 

 

Shibui bonsai has limited numbers of Chojubai in 11 cm pots available now just $15 each for smaller ones or $20 for 3 year old plants similar to the one shown above.

Start a bonsai forest

The trident maples in the garden at Shibui Bonsai produce huge quantities of seed each year. This results in lots of seedlings growing in the garden beds. We usually leave a few hundred to grow on for use as bonsai.

You can germinate your own seedlings under controlled conditions but I find it far easier to let nature do that for me and I just harvest the seedlings I need from our garden beds.

Today I used some to put a trident group together. It will take a few year for this group to develop into show quality bonsai but groups are one of the quickest ways to get good results from immature material. Continue reading

Bonsai Week

I was fortunate to get a place with Tony Tickel at this year’s Bonsai week workshops. Thanks to the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia for making these bonsai activities possible. I think everyone who attended took home a lot of new information and ideas.

I finally decided to take an old black pine. I’ve had a couple of these trees since they were small seedlings but because I did not understand pine maintenance techniques properly they both gradually grew long, bare branches with foliage only at the tips. The trunks are thick and have mature bark which is highly desirable in pines. This one also has a large, spreading root mass so I thought it was worth taking some time and effort to try to resurrect it for bonsai.

I have spent the last 7 years forcing the foliage closer to the trunk to make the trees more compact. Pruning stimulated a few back buds on bare wood which were then nurtured until strong enough to remove the longer branches. I also resorted to grafting and inarching to get growth on other branches that had refused to bud.

Here is the tree before the workshop.

Black pine before

You can see that there was plenty of branches and foliage to choose from. The tree was well fed and healthy to cope with a major restyle.

black pine nebari

 

 

 

 

After checking several options we decided to try to keep the current front because the nebari on this side is far better than the other side.

 

 

 

 

After

There were several options for trunk lines and we have used a fairly standard informal upright trunk line with some jin and shari.

 

The first branch had a really nice shape but was far too heavy for the remainder of the tree so it was removed leaving a short jin.

The apex of the tree leaned too far forward and was an awkward shape so it was also jinned. Because the old main trunk was so strong it had thickened the trunk in that area giving a slight reverse taper to the new trunk so a small area of shari surrounds the jin to reduce the visual weight and maintain better visual taper.

 

After the worshop

Spring should see this pine grow strongly. I’ll begin my pine maintenance schedule with this one now to try to maintain density and promote inner buds – Early summer candle pruning and needle plucking followed by autumn thinning and more needle plucking should produce more even energy distribution and promote shorter growth and smaller needles.

 

shibuibonsai.com.au has moved

We recently moved shibuibonsai.com.au to a new server. It appears that not all the images I have used in the posts have survived the move. It will take me some time to replace the missing files. In the meanwhile you will just have to use your imaginations to fill out the visual details of some of the posts. Please let me know if you have found a post that is vital to you and desperately needs the images to make sense and I’ll see if I can fast track replacing those files.

Apologies for the inconvenience and thanks for your patience.

Neil

Banksia and fertiliser

For many years there has been a myth that ‘normal’ fertiliser will kill Australian plants.

The truth is that most Aussie natives don’t care. Many actually grow way better when they have access to reasonable levels of P so they grow better when fertilised with standard fertilisers. I have actually come to the conclusion that many of my early failures with Australian native plants can be attributed to starvation because I was too frightened to fertilise. Continue reading

Repotting natives

I usually repot any native plants in November or December. There were plenty that needed doing this season because I had not repotted for a couple of years. I find that many native plants grow lots of fine roots in the pots and quickly get to the stage where there is no room in the potting mix for water or air to penetrate. This mans that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the mix hydrated and I have lost quite a few trees because I have not repotted often enough. Continue reading

2016-17 Catalogue

Spring has been very busy for Shibui Bonsai. We had a trade table at Canberra Bonsai Society show and supplied more stock for Bonsai North West spring show in Melbourne at the start of November. Our local Albury Wodonga Bonsai Society staged exhibitions at both Albury Show and Myrtleford show.

Now that spring is over I have finally managed to find time to take photos of the trees on the sales tables and get them up on the Catalogue page. No descriptions yet this time but I think you can probably get a pretty good idea of the trees from the pictures. Just email neil@shibuibonsai.com.au if you need more info on any of the trees featured.