|Crataegus monogyna/Common Hawthorn bonsai, the subject of filming for a new video in my new studio during December.
Welcome to the January 2024 Bonsai4me Newsletter!
A Happy New Year to all Bonsai4me subscribers and the beginning of a fresh new year of bonsai!
After a difficult year for growing bonsai with the losses of Spring 2023, we should all start this year in much better shape after a cooler Summer last year, thankfully.
This is the time of year that typically we start to decide on the soils and fertilisers that we are going to repot our trees into. This in itself can be quite a difficult choice as there are so many options for soil components and mixes, and even an even greater variety of opinions on the subject!
I am not selling soils this year through Bonsai4me but would thoroughly recommend Ibuki akadama-based mixes where available as well as the soil mixes from Kaizen Bonsai. Both companies offer products that will encourage strong growth in your trees.
I would recommend that you add BioChar from ProBio-Carbon to whatever mix you use. Upto 5% by volume can be added to your soil mix to create a very healthy biosphere that successfully holds nutrients that you add to your soil whilst ensuring that the nutrients are in a form that is easily accessible to the tree itself.
Something known as nitrogen-lockout is quite common when trees have been fed with chemical fertilisers or ‘superfed’. The excess nitrogen is visible as a green blush in the soil but is not available in a form that the roots can absorb. This is an event that I have learnt from chatting to Dr Karen and it affects all plant growers, from farmers to bonsai enthusiasts. High nitrogen does encourage stronger growth for a couple of seasons, after which it can have entirely the opposite effect on growth rates, unless a product such as BioChar is used to balance the soil composition.
As I have done for the past 2-3 years, I will be using fertilisers from Oceana. These are organic balanced fertilisers that encourage strong root and top growth. The Oceana Rootboost is exceptionally useful when used during repotting, encouraging a very healthy biosphere even during the low temperatures we experience in Spring.
BioChar is available from the Bonsai4me.com/store here
Oceana Fertilisers are available from the Bonsai4me.com/store here
|Detail of the berries on my Crataegus monogyna/Common Hawthorn bonsai.
|BioChar and adventitious rootgrowth.
This growing season I’ve been using a surface dressing of BioChar from ProBio Carbon along with the surface dressing of fine akadama that I like to apply for deciduous trees. The purpose being to keep the soil surface from drying out in the sun and encouraging adventitious rootgrowth in those upper levels of the soil structure.
As well as its already appreciated values as a soil component that encourages a healthy biosphere and keeps the soil sweet, BioChar holds a relatively high amount of moisture despite still being fast-draining. This has led to some very strong and healthy moss growing the soil surface of even my most thirsty trees, and during the late Summer into the autumn, adventitious root growth along the soil surface in the area of the nebari was particularly evident!
Personally I think this effect will go a long way to encouraging strong lateral root growth in our trees, as well as reducing watering requirements during the summer, without a reduction in the fast draining qualities we require in our bonsai soils.
Although I won’t be selling general bonsai soils this Winter/Spring, we are stocking plenty of BioChar in large 15kg bags as well as small .5kg bags.
BioChar can be applied to all bonsai soil mixes upto 5% by volume, or raked-in to the soil surface of the those trees not being repotted.
Top quality BioChar from ProBio Carbon can be purchased here at the Bonsai4me.com/store
|In December, new Bonsai4me apprentice Toby Wilson (first left) was invited to work alongside a small group of enthusiasts applying wire to some very impressive trees for bonsai artist Mauro Stemberger who had flown into London to work for a few days just before Christmas.
Toby said that Mauro was something of a taskmaster and he hadn’t wired so fast in his life before, but it was a very pleasant and interesting experience.
Beechfield Bonsai in Telford have begun to announce the demonstrators for the forthcoming BonsaiLive Show in October 2024.
So far I have learned that the headline artist will be Mauro Stemberger and Caroline Scott (Caz Bonsai). Caz demonstrated at the 2022 show alongside Peter Warren and greatly impressed all those who saw her work.
More demonstrators will be added to the list over the coming weeks!
|UK Bonsai Association (UKBA)
UK Events Diary for December 2023-onwards
Things really slow down during the Winter but I have included a few of the late Winter/early Spring events here as well. Just to whet your appetite!
Ayrshire Bonsai Club Winter Image Show
Alloway Village Hall, 36a Alloway,
Ayrshire. KA7 4PY.
Adm: Free. Times:1330-1700.hrs
Contact: Jeff Banning 07799.477895
20Jan24 Sat (Confirmed)
Middlesex Bonsai Society Winter Show
South Harrow Methodist Church,
Walton Avenue, South Harrow,
Middlesex. HA2 8QU.
Adm: Free. Times:1000-1300.hrs.
Ctc: Mark Moreland 07850.771201
04Feb24 Sun (Confirmed)
Twickenham Bonsai Club Show
Percy Road, Whitton,
Twickenham, Middlesex. TW2 6JW.
Adm: tba. Times:1000-1600.hrs
Contact: Tony Ulatowski 07956.362743
11Feb24 Sun (Confirmed)
Swindon Bonsai Society Winter Image Show
Grange Leisure Centre, Grange Drive,
Stratton St Margaret, Swindon, Wiltshire. SN3 4JY.
Adm: £5. Times: 1000-1600.hrs.
Contact: Paul Bowerbank 07982.401103
17&18Feb24 Sat & Sun (Confirmed)
Limburghal cv, jaarbeurslaan 6, B-3600 Genk, Belgium
25Feb24 Sun (Confirmed)
Doncaster Bonsai Experience
& The Spring Bonsai Exhibition
Markham Grange Nursery,
Longlands Lane, Brodsworth,
Doncaster, South Yorkshire. DN5 7XB.
Adm: Free. Times: 0900-1500.hrs
Contact: John Skill 07818.110978
Please forward the Newsletter to fellow enthusiasts and club members. They can also subscribe for themselves via the Form on the Bonsai4me.com homepage.
Enjoy the Autumn!