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Club Meeting May 2012

by Johan Lotz

Jan-Jurie kicked off the meeting with a slide show presentation on how to treat for Scale and Australian bug. He warned about using systemic pesticides on figs, indicating to rather use Rose Care which also doubles as a fungicide and to use Oleum or Garden Gun on other types of trees.

Trevor was the judge for the evening and picked a root over rock olive that Rudi brought along. Although it was a good tree Trevor did point out some negatives which include the lack of roots in the front and the fact that the bottom side branches still needed to thicken more.

Next it was Malcolm and his son Colin that showed us the very creative and large variety of artificial rock shapes that they make to be used for rock plantings. Some of the moulds they used were based on rocks that they borrowed from Rudi. They are constantly trying out new methods and shapes and continue to grapple with issues like reducing the weight of the rocks and designing better and deeper moulds that allow for better moisture retention. The colour of the rocks varied as well and the process used to create the colours means that it should never change over time.

They were then followed by Rudi and Dorothy that showed us how to make root over rock plantings using young olives and rocks that Rudi brought along. Dorothy did most of the work (ably assisted by Jan-Jurie) with Rudi providing running commentary. Olives was the chosen specie as one can only do root over rock plantings with them this time of the year. The stock should ideally not be older than 3 years. One must have several trees and several rocks so that once you've cleaned of the soil from the roots of the trees you can mix and match between the different trees and rocks to find the best combination. Rudi said that one can't plan too much into advance e.g. which root will grow where (the tree will do what it wants to do), although Dorothy liked the idea of planning as much as possible more . The tree should ideally have roots longer than the rock you want to use. When cutting the roots one should target to leave a few main roots on the plant which you wrap around the rock – but leave more than you think you need! One can use mutton cloth to wrap roots around the rock (benefit is that it disintegrates) or alternatively can use green tubing (benefit is it stretches). Wire/cable ties not ideal as it does not stretch.

For most plants the roots should be buried completely under the ground together with the rock in order for the roots to fatten up well. Figs are the one exception to this. Normally should leave roots and rock in the ground for at least 3 years. Rudi suggested that with elms one can also slice open the bottom of the bags at some point and then put it in open ground for roots to grow down further.

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Random Bonsai Tip

Where the primary branch is thinner than the secondary one, prune back the secondary hard, keep it trimmed back and allow the primary branch to grow unhindered until it has thickened.