maandag 16 maart 2015

bonsai Rowan and Malus repotted

The little Rowan tree (about 25 to 30cm in height) or Sorbus Aucuparia and the Malus (about 30cm) both were rootbound after good 2 years in their pots. A big carpet of roots could be pruned away after combing out the soil underneath.

The Rowan tree was in a smaller traditional rectangle pot, and is now repotted into the old Malus pot, which is about 1/3 bigger in volume. The tree needs more thickening of the trunk, which can be achieved with more room for the roots, regular feeding, and letting the shoots grow long enough before cutting back. In 2 to 3 seasons I should be able to get good results.

The Malus was in the round blueglazed pot, and was repotted in a big plastic training pot. The goal here is to achieve lots of strong new growth first. I treat it like a pre-prebonsai for 2 or 3 years. Lots of flower buds opening up too !

dinsdag 10 maart 2015

Silver birch bonsai top cut out

Today 10.03.2015 I got my silver birch (betaula pendula) out of winterstorage. This young prebonsai is grown from seed since 2008. It only spent 2 full growing seasons in the ground in our backyard. In pot since 3 (of 4?) years.

I cut out the entire top section because it was going nowhere. Too much space without branching, several branches coming from 1 'wheel'. All gone now. A lower branch I bent into the new top. Obviously the top will need to fill out now, I give it 2 years and I'll have plenty of shoots to pick from for building it up. I put some new guy-wires on other branches. So off to a new and better future, it allready feels much better now. The roots are starting to look decent too. It will have to wait another year for repotting, it won't hurt the tree too much.

first picture is from 2 years ago

maandag 9 maart 2015

Making a cement bonsai pot (crescent)


I have an ugly-duckling birch that needed a pot. I had to do all sorts of tricks to make this tree somewhat 'ok' for a future as bonsai, and still it will always be a strange tree even with years of work still to come. So, with the knowledge I have no pots suited for the tree, and the cost of a big ceramic crescent pot is very high (can be about 200 EUR), I decided to make own. In cement.

This was my first ever attempt ever so you will not find an elaborate 'how it's made' here. I went to the local DIY, bought some bird cage wire mesh, 2 small bags of quickdrying cement, and a pair of plastic gloves. The 'creating' happened in 2 hours, then a 1 hour pause, then half an hour finishing. The bottom still needs finishing, the pot was still to delicate to turn in upside down and I got no appropriate stand at hand. The flat bottom is, well just that, too flat still.

I must say this was fun. I'm hungry for more. It was not a perfect job but I've seen worse first attempts at this so I should be proud. I will find out more about using stands or supports to be able to finish the bottom in one go.

zondag 8 maart 2015

3 more trees out of winter storage

Today 08.03.2015, three more trees left the winter storage:

Crataegus Monogyna, the common whiteflowering hawthorn which is native here in Belgium;
Sorbus Aucuparia, the rowan or mountain-ash tree, also a native species here;
Larix Kaempferi, or japanese larch.

The Crataegus got a little check-up before spring sets in. I cut back branchlets, and gave a couple of guy-wires an extra twist. Over the last 2 years it is becoming more and more promising. I still need 2 or 3 years where pruning back and ramification will have to find a balance, before the final ramification can begin and the bonsai can come out.

The Larix hadn't been pruned before or during winter so this job I did today. I cut back all twigs, and some branchlets were pruned away completely to get the canopy open enough. The 'character branch', had a part that disturbed the overall image too much, so first I shortened it and then I peeled of the bark half way. This works better now, its an eyecatchter but not too much, and the disturbing element is gone alltogether. Not a top tree, but a simple elegant and perhaps feminine tree.

The Sorbus is what I call my little gem. Not a big impressive thing, but grown from seed since 1997, of which only 2 to 3 years in the ground. The last 3 years it developed quite nicely. I am happy with this simple yet charming tree. I love all the characteristics of rowan trees. Hardly any wiring done to build up this tree.

zaterdag 7 maart 2015

Malus/Apple tree out of winter storage

Another one left the winter storage today, my apple tree 'stumpie'. I thought it was Malus Halliana but I doubt it now, will be checked.

Still a premature project. One of only a few prebonsai I bought (in late summer 2012), and its the most "expensive" (and I'm a fan of cheap) one too, even with the knowledge it was on 50% discount. So, I was glad to downsize my newly purchased apple tree and be left with a small sized tree with respectable trunk thickness, this was my goal. The story of this tree I allready posted (use searchbox: malus).

The edges of the carved dead wood have receded here and there due to indrought, nothing to worry about. I cut off a very big branch on top I better had removed in the first place. I am now left with 'stumpie', dead wood to finish off in the future (very hard wood that does not deteriote rapidly), and building up for years to come. Therefore I included some virtuals.

The buds are opening up right now, let the spring come.

European Hornbeam out of winter storage 07.03.2015

Today I opened up my improvised winter storage, which is just some pallets covered with reinforced plastic. I took out several trees amongst which this one.

Europen Hornbeam
Carpinus Betulus
Height: about 55cm

So, the approach graft roots from 2 years earlier have semi-grafted, but not at all up to my taste. Needs lots of work still, or perhaps new grafts with seedlings in stead of 2 to 3yo plants. The edges of the carving done last year have receded here and there because of indrought, nothing bad, still good. The dead wood top I broke off in bits, just roughly. Finishing of all the dead wood is not going to happen until it has weatherd still more. The top I will have to make sure to protect it a little better, it tends to burst and crack too rapidly and I need a good base to be able to finish it off later.
I included a virtual, made with a very basic and free imaging programme. The angle of inclination is set from the programme, It is the closest I could get to what could be an option.

A fun project, and ready for spring. All this from a 'hedge-a-dori' in 2012. The hedge was about 20 years old.

first choice for front

2nd choice for front, turned 1hour counter clockwise

vrijdag 6 maart 2015

Publication in 'Bonsai', magazine of the Flemish Bonsai Association

As previously mentioned, I am happy to announce publication of the first part of my article "Mycorrhizae, een natuurlijke boost voor uw bomen" (dutch) in 'Bonsai', the magazine of the Flemish Bonsai Association. A read about the existence, use, and horticultural aspects of myccorhizae fungi in general and in relation to bonsai.

Article in 3 parts:
1st part published in edition 1, march 2015 (ISBN 1382-8169)
2nd part to be published in edition 2, 2015
3rd part to be published in edition 3, 2015

The updates on the 'bonsai' magazine of the VBV you can find at

I have added a page 'publications' on my blog as well. This is only to keep things organised properly on my blog.