Now that the leaves are dropping it’s time to get some trimming done. Maples tend to ‘bleed’ clear liquid when pruned closer to spring. Losing some juice from pruning cuts does not usually seem to hurt them but when I trim earlier in autumn there’s little, if any, bleeding so I prefer to trim as soon as the leaves drop.
There’s lots of small trident maples on the sales benches in 11 cm pots and these trees often drop leaves earlier than the larger trees so I’ve started with them. Here are some examples of how I trim the smaller trees.
The older bonsai are also trimmed now but it takes much longer due to the extra branch raminfication.
The trident maple shown above is still for sale. It is around 35 years old and is actually root over rock though the rock is small and the roots have spread to almost cover it.
Group plantings are also trimmed when leaves drop. This took quite a bit longer due to all the branches and having to select which parts to remove to stop branches becoming too thick and dominant. This one definitely NOT for sale at this stage.
For bonsai growers in the southern hemisphere, now is a great time to give your deciduous bonsai a good tidy up. For the northern cousins you’ll need to way a few months.
We are now well into autumn here in North East Victoria. The deciduous trees have been progressing through their autumn colour changes before dropping leaves.
Japanese maples changed colour a little later than many of the tridents I posted a few weeks ago. These Japanese maples were at their best when these photos were taken last week.
Trident maples also develop good Autumn colours here in North East Victoria. Different trees of the same species can have different colours. Some of that is genetic, some is due to conditions – whether the tree is more protected or exposed to cold, sun, etc.
Shibui Bonsai is pleased to be asked, once again, to supply stock for the coming show and sale at Footscray, in Melbourne.
For those who have not attended before, BNW show regularly features some of the best bonsai in Melbourne on the display tables. Well worth going out of your way to attend.
As well as a great range of awe inspiring bonsai on the show benches there’s a large and varied sales area featuring all things bonsai from small starter stock plants through to aged bonsai worthy of the show bench themselves. The club stocks a range of tools and equipment, wire, pot mesh, etc and several vendors supply pots, both locally made and imported.
Bonsai Northwest exhibition and sale: Footscray Community Arts Centre, Moreland rd Footscray. Saturday and Sunday 29th and 30th April 2023, 10am-4pm, both days
April means cooler nights here at Shibui Bonsai. The trees have begun to sense winter coming and some of the deciduous trees are putting on their autumn colours.
Zelkova seems to be one of the first species to colour and lose leaves in the autumn. It is also one of the last to leaf out in spring.
It was interesting to see the Japanese maple shown above still has some green leaves on the lower section where they are still protected from the changing temperatures and sun.
Deciduous autumn colour does not last very long. Each tree usually only has coloured leaves for a week or 2 before they fall but that short period can be spectacular.
Trees do not all seem to change at the same time. Some species make the change earlier and some seem to wait for even colder weather so having a range of species in your bonsai collection can extend the autumn colour period.
Even among the same species there’s quite a lot of difference. Some of my trident maples have already dropped leaves while others are still quite green and won’t change for another week or so.
Conditions seem to play a big part in timing and strength of autumn colour. Cold nights followed by bright sunny days seem to promote more intense colours in deciduous trees. The trees that are more exposed colour earlier and more intensely than those that are sheltered from either cold or sun.
Fortunately, the home of Shibui Bonsai in North East Victoria usually has just such autumn conditions so towns like Bright, Beechworth and Yackandandah are well known for spectacular autumn colour.
While most of us can’t manipulate the local climate we can choose species that are known to give better autumn colours, even in less than ideal conditions. Liquidambers are well known for strong autumn colours even in areas that don’t get ideal cool conditions so if you aspire to good deciduous colour in bonsai consider trying liquidamber.
Genetics also affect autumn colours. Within a single species some individuals produce different colours or timing so if you aspire to better autumn colours it’s a good idea to select your starting stock during the peak colour time in autumn. Look for individual trees that have stronger colours or a better display. All other things being equal that should give you trees that have the best potential for good autumn colour displays.
I’ve frequently noticed that trees in very shallow pots also change earlier. The trident forest pictured earlier is usually one of the first to show colour and is now almost bare while other tridents are still clothed in full colour. I guess this discrepancy is due to stresses. The shallow pots dry out more and possibly allow the roots to cool more than deeper containers.
We also know that damaged leaves do not produce the same colours as undamaged leaves. Maples are particularly prone to summer leaf damage in our hot, dry climate so to get the best autumn colour some growers defoliate damaged maples at the end of summer. Provided the new leaves have time to mature and you take care to prevent further scorching you should get a much better autumn show.
Finally found some time to pot up some more rooted cuttings. Ginkgo and Chojubai were among a few species that had rooted over summer which means Shibui Bonsai will soon have more small starter stock available.
For those wanting traditional, easy to grow species there’s plenty of maples, both trident and Japanese maples in a range of sizes and shapes starting at $10.
Also plenty of (small) Japanese black pines $10, $15 and a few still at $20, all in 11 cm pots. Very few larger than that as JBP sell quicker than they grow.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about any of these or enquire about other species and sizes. Plenty of larger field grown maples and Chinese elms this year for those looking to develop thick trunk bonsai a bit quicker.
This privet had to go to make way for a new garden bed. Middle of our summer but it is a privet so really tough. I think it stands a good chance of surviving.
It does have a short, fat trunk as a result of being chopped off a few times years ago. When it refused to die the gardener resorted to trimming regularly to maintain a ball shaped topiary.
After this was dug I got busy with other jobs and forgot about it so it sat overnight and part of the next day on top of the soil. By the time I picked it up the fresh shoots were quite wilted.
Root ball was soaked in water for the rest of the afternoon until I had time to deal with it.
After soaking I raked out much of the garden soil, chopped large roots and shortened all others to fit in a 30 cm orchid pot.
Finally the tree was potted into my usual bonsai potting mix, watered well and the pot placed under a bonsai bench in part shade.
I can report that 2 weeks later all the shoots are erect and looking good.
Today I had another opportunity to further trial summer transplanting. Another garden and some more trees that had to go.
First up is an Acacia cognata. I believe it is one of the compact cultivars, possibly ‘Limelight’. All trunks were chopped back a few weeks ago. The number of new shoots all over the trunks prompted me to try this transplant.
Roots were chopped back to fit a 30 cm orchid pot and most of the (hydrophobic) garden soil removed before potting up in usual bonsai potting mix.
The other trees collected today were 3 self sown desert ash – Fraxinus angustifolia. Not big trunks but definitely suitable as trials for summer collecting.
Again all these trees were watered well then placed under the bench in dappled shade. I’ll report back in a few weeks on how these trees are progressing.
Many native trees are growing strongly during summer so new shoots need regular trimming to keep the trees in shape.
Today I trimmed a Banksia integrifolia. This tree was grown from seed collected on South Coast NSW around 18 years ago.
This Melaleuca almost died from dehydration earlier in spring. It is now sitting in a tray with around 3cm of water through summer to make sure it doesn’t dry out again. It has recovered well and is now growing strongly and needed a second trim for this season.
This melaleuca grows so quick and responds to pruning so well that I generally just shear the new shoots with scissors – hedge trimming. Occasional more selective pruning helps maintain the foliage clusters and overall shape.
Shibui Bonsai has a small range of Aussie natives as starters and pre-bonsai and occasionally larger field grown specimens. We currently have a few large trunked Banksias for sale – see sample picture below. Unfortunately these are too large and too heavy to be posted so pick up or alternative delivery only.
Summer is a great time to work on ficus and other sub tropical plants. They respond quickly and recover far better if pruned or root pruned while they are still actively growing.
This old ficus has been posted before. It is now a bit too large for me to manage comfortably so I’ve offered it for sale. Earlier in spring I gave this one a really hard trim as trimming had been neglected for a year or 2 and branches were becoming too long.
The tree has responded with masses of new shoots, some from the existing branches and more from the trunk. Now it is time to select best new shoots, thin out excess shoots and trim the good ones.
The dwarf green tree frog was not impressed that I removed all his cover but stayed put while I worked. Now safely back in the poly house.
The above tree (with or without the frog) is still available if you fancy owning an old, impressive trunk bonsai. Still priced at $3,300
For those who would rather invest some time instead of money Shibui Bonsai also has smaller starter Port Jackson figs. In just 30 years you could have something like the tree above for an investment of just $15 or $20.
I also repotted some starter root over rock ficus to check the roots. These trees were started just last year which shows how quickly ficus can grow.
I’ve just added Chinese elm catalogue and Pines and Junipers to the catalogue page.
Chinese elms were a little slower to re-establish roots this year so I delayed advertising these until now. The trees now have strong roots and can now cope with delivery to anywhere on the East coast of Australia.
Pines and junipers are both always slow to settle in after transplant so I always wait until well after the summer solstice to make sure the new trees have recovered properly before offering them to buyers. This year one of the junipers did not make it. I’ve included the original photo in the catalogue just to remind readers of some of the pitfalls of growing field grown trees for bonsai.
Hope you’ll take a look at the new offerings and at the maples on offer this season.
For those looking for younger material or smaller and less expensive stock please email to discuss your needs. The Shibui Bonsai benches are currently overcrowded with lots of trees in 11 cm pots – trident maples, Japanese maples, Chinese elms, Azaleas, including some Satsuki varieties, Shimpaku junipers, Japanese Black pines (only smaller available this year), Chojubai, Cotoneaster as well as smaller numbers of less well known bonsai species. Email neil@shibuibonsai for prices and avialability.
This year’s field grown Prunus ‘Elvins’ have enough roots now to cope with delivery and a change of scenery so I’ve added the Prunus 2022-23 catalogue to the catalogue page.
The Prunus catalogue also includes some yamadori cherry plums collected from roadsides in the area. Like the field grown trees those plums have some pruning cuts but they also have thick trunks with good taper and branching.
For those who fancy Flowering Cherry (Cherry Blossom) as bonsai you’ll also find a range of cherries self sown from seed of Prunus subhirtella ‘Snowfall’ growing in our garden. ‘Snowfall’ is a strongly weeping flowering cherry but many of the seedlings don’t retain the weeping habit. Some have moderately weeping branches, others are much more upright. They do all have the lovely, small, white flowers.