1 October 2020

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town - October


OCTOBER                                SPRING!

Month
Mean Rainfall mm
Rel.  Humidity %
Daily Sun­shine Hrs
Temp. Max Celsius
Temp. Min Celsius
October
32,7
74
8,9
21,2
10,6

POSITION
Early spring! All or nearly all deciduous plants are out in leaf, the soft new foliage is a delight. We normally still experience rain and some cool weather is still around. Days are definitely less cloudy and longer. The drying south-east wind has not started seriously but be careful of hot dry days. 
WATERING
Daily watering of outdoor bonsai may be required unless it rains.
FERTILISING
This is the time of year when advantage must be taken of good strong growth and from now on feeding should be regular and conscientiously carried out. Trees put on girth and wiring must be carefully watched lest scars develop.
DISEASE CONTROL
Pests are starting to enjoy life and may be decimating bonsai. Judicious control needs to be exercised. Some pests are not easy to see or identify. If a tree is not looking "right" ask for help. 
PRUNING
Nipping and feeding is what is done now, it may seem a contradiction to feed and then to nip most of the new growth off but that is the way to build up a fine structure of small branchlets and achieve detail design.
POTTING
Many evergreens may be potted now. Watch for swollen buds. The correct time is usually when buds are swollen but before the leaves unfurl. An exception may be figs it is far too early to pot them. 
REMARKS
In our area the weather may be unfriendly with cold wind and rain but it is spring and when the weather is nice take the opportunity of collecting moss and stones for use with bonsai. It is also a good time to collect potential bonsai from the wild as long as the appropriate permission has been sought, have respect for the ecology.

This is a very good time to plant seeds and to take cuttings

24 September 2020

Heritage day trading hours


We’re open on the Heritage Day public holiday from 11am to 1pm for all your Springtime Bonsai shopping. 

1 September 2020

Bonsai things to do in Cape Town - September

SEPTEMBER  

Month
Mean Rainfall mm
Rel.  Humidity %
Daily Sun­shine Hrs
Temp. Max Celcius
Temp. Min Celcius
Sept
41,7
77
7,7
19,2
8,7

POSITION
Still cold, rainy and windy but the signs of spring are emerging and buds are swelling. Some trees are well into new leaf.
WATERING
Water if it does not rain for a few days. Wind causes evaporation even on really cold days.
FERTILISING
As deciduous trees come into leaf they will benefit from light feeds. Evergreens that show signs of growth may also be fed lightly. Growth stimulants may be used but remember that they are not substitutes for fertiliser. After the heavy rains of winter nutrients have been leached out of the small quantity of soil in bonsai pots. Bonsai are dependant on feeding.
DISEASE CONTROL
Pests, especially sucking mites and some fungi are active, take steps to control if necessary before they debilitate a bonsai.
PRUNING
Allow the soft branchlets on deciduous trees to extend to about seven leaves and then prune back to 2 leaves. This is a vital exercise to build up a fine network of small branchlets (ramification).
POTTING
It is best to wait until next month for potting evergreens but some deciduous trees which are not yet in leaf may be judiciously potted.
REMARKS
An exciting time of the year for bonsai enthusiasts as new growth appears. It’s a good time to spring clean and tidy up. Do not be discouraged by the odd storm which causes a mess, look upon the clean-up as a relaxing and therapeutic exercise. Remove spent blossoms on winter flowering bonsai such as azaleas. The production of seed takes a lot out of a small bonsai.

27 August 2020

Passing of Lionel Theron





We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved 85 year old dad, grandad and husband to Gail of 58 years. There will be a huge void left in our lives. Lionel was a wise, kind, generous, very special man that was loved by all who came into contact with him. He had a great life and will be sorely missed. Rest in peace Lionel John Theron

1 August 2020

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town - August

AUGUST

Month
Mean Rainfall mm
Rel.  Humidity %
Daily Sun­shine Hrs
Temp. Max Celcius
Temp. Min Celcius
August
73,7
79
6,7
17,8
7,4

POSITION
Still wet, cold, windy and dark but beneath the gloom sap is rising and potting is hectic. Finish potting deciduous trees this month and add acacias to the list.
WATERING
Little watering required but be wary of consecutive dry days. Check drainage holes in pots and if trees are not draining properly lift them up and place coarse gravel under them.
FERTILISING
It is still very early to apply feeds but growth stimulants may be used. Once growth commences fertilisers may be used.
DISEASE CONTROL
Pests are waking up and whilst humans are still reluctant to go outdoors pests may be damaging little trees. Take the necessary precautions.
PRUNING
Pruning may now be carried out freely, stimulating growth by pruning on both deciduous and evergreens are useful.
POTTING
Deciduous trees may still be potted but take care with evergreens it is still too cold for them. Only pot when the onset of growth is obvious.
REMARKS
August days are longer but temperatures are still lower than in June. This area is still in winter, so take care not to do things best left to spring.

SUISEKI AND PENJING
The weather is conducive to collecting rocks as SUISEKI or for creating PENJING. It is also very healthy both physically and mentally to get outdoors and to enjoy a special closeness with nature.

23 July 2020

My Fifty Years Growing Bonsai by Gail Theron - My First Bonsai 1970

My Fifty Years growing Bonsai by Gail Theron

My first Bonsai 1970

2020 is a year to remember, on the one hand the sadness, tragedy and distress of Covid19 and on the other hand the celebration of 50 years of being so very fortunate and able to pursue my passion for Bonsai. This would not have been possible without the love and support of my family. I also need to mention my fellow bonsai growers like the late Rudi Adams, Bernard Coetzee and Bob Richards. We were a small group of Bonsai fanatics with no internet, no tools, pots or wire. Our bible was The Sunset Book of Bonsai. 1970 was also the founding year of the Cape Bonsai Kai. In 1980 we were honoured to welcome our first visiting Master, John Naka. He also visited in 1982 and 1984 and had a profound impact on the development of Bonsai in SA. Since then we have had many talented Bonsai Masters sharing their knowledge and skills with us, keeping us updated and fully informed, Bonsai has been evolving since its inception and the glib phrase “old thinking and new thought processes” doesn’t hold much water with me.
Young growers are so fortunate to now have all the info they need at their fingertips on the internet. This is apparent in the many beautiful Bonsai being created  trees being created across the country.

My bonsai journey began with me being given a bonsai pot by a potter friend, I am ashamed to admit that four trees died as a result of my attempts to Bonsai them, however after four lessons with Bernard Coetzee and I was hooked.

My first tree was a Myrtus Communis.



As with most beginners, my first ambition was to get the tree into a small Bonsai pot, it was inconceivable to think of planting it in the ground or an extra-large pot. That was when my passion overtook me and in the rush to try out all those zillions of plants, my Myrtle remained in almost the same size pot for 50 years. Of course the trunk hasn’t fattened but it does look gnarly, branches are in proportion to the trunk and have never been wired, I used the clip and grow method. So, if I now decided I wanted a heavier trunk, what would my options be? I could double up on pot size and then watch that no branches cause thickening where I don’t need it but I am just not able to carry it out now. The next best solution is a sacrifice branch but in a spot where it would not destroy the balance of the tree or leave a prominent scar. A sentimental tree so I will let it be and continue to enjoy it!

This little group is a new creation, four or five years since collection, it's overpotted and I plan for it to stay a smallish group. I am fertilising quite heavily to achieve good branch development, when stronger wiring will be done.



The next tree is a more ambitious project. Collected five years ago, it was put into this large pot and left to grow, it had no greenery but now has many branches to choose from. 

This multi trunk Myrtle was dug up a few years ago, it was overpotted and left to grow and develop branches, now it’s time to work on it. Designed, pruned, wired and fertilised with a couple of Go Green funnels it should develop quite quickly.

 


There are so many great qualities presented by Myrtles.

It has small evergreen scented leaves, it flowers and berries profusely. The bark is very interesting, it can withstand heavy pruning and breaks back prolifically on hard wood. With all these wonderful qualities I am really surprised that more growers don’t cultivate them.

1 July 2020

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town - July


JULY
Month
Mean Rainfall mm
Rel.  Humidity %
Daily Sun­shine Hrs
Temp. Max Celcius
Temp. Min Celcius
July
96,9
81
6,2
17,4
7,1

POSITION
The shortest day has passed and days are getting longer but only marginally. The same remarks apply as for June.
WATERING
The water table is high and frequent rains and dull days often mean wet condi­tions but, take care! A few dry days and bonsai could suffer. The winds are strong and frequent, shelter delicate trees and pots! Ensure that pots drain correctly. 
FERTILISING
No point in fertilising this month - temperatures are too low.
DISEASE CONTROL
Snails and slugs are busy, use appropriate bait. Fungus spores may be active during wet humid conditions. It is never cold enough in our area to kill spores of fungus effectively.  Spray with fungicides if necessary.
PRUNING
Winter prune and design prune deciduous trees.
POTTING
This is a really busy potting month for most deciduous trees such as Celtis, Ulmus, Acer, Taxodium, Betula, Carpinus, Wisteria and Malus. Visit a nursery for soil and pot supplies. It is always preferable to take a tree for which a pot is to be chosen to the pot supplier for direct selection.
REMARKS
A month when enthusiasm is sometimes at a low ebb but soon sap will be rising. Enjoy exchanging views with like minded people and reading books and maybe even surfing the web on Bonsai and related topics.