October - Sydney City Bonsai Club
NEXT CLUB MEETINGS
Green Square Community Hall
3 Joynton Avenue
Welcome to the October Newsletter
7pm Tuesday 8 October 2013
Junipers (but not Pines), Privet &
Managing Maples & fruit trees during rapid growth in October
7pm Tuesday 12 November 2013
Root prune and repot root over
Member Styling Hotspot
Workshop on Junipers (but not Pines), Privet & Elms
0432 461 025
PO Box 486
Summerhill NSW 2130
Patron Dorothy Koreshoff
Sue leads Member Styling Hot Spot for September meeting
In this issue:
Pests & Diseases and Chemicals from Sue – pages 2, 3 & 4
Club Display – Flowering Bonsai - see page 4
Lee provides notes on Robert Stevens Bonsai Styling Philosophy
from Illawarra Bonsai Society Stanwell Tops Workshop - see page 5
Vice President Sue
Notes from Robert Steven Bonsai Master talk on single/multi styling - see page 6
Events Calendar page 6
Public Officer David
Newsletter Editor Roslyn
Root Over Rock - November meeting
Committee Lee & Tony
Full Membership $40.00
SCBC wishes to thank Sydney City
Council for their continued
support for our club by providing
the hall at a reduced rate.
The root over rock style will be discussed at the November meeting. Members are asked to bring
root over rock bonsai to root prune and repot (suitable species for the season) or the makings to
Required: very young tree with potential, a rock much bigger than the tree that the tree can grow
into in a few years time, muck, twine, and a training pot deep enough to cover the rock to the tree's
Starter and basic bonsai, most in bonsai pots,
good for beginners, low prices.
Available at October meeting.
PESTS & DISEASES AND CHEMICAL USE
GETTING THE DIAGNOSIS RIGHT
Beginners sometimes get confused telling the difference between
pests and diseases on their bonsai trees, and many a death has
been caused to a favourite tree by lack of knowledge. When
thinking of using chemicals on your bonsai trees there are some
things you must keep in mind.
These larvae cannot survive in Koreshoff Bonsai soil as the use of
crushed gravel in the soil prevents the grubs from growing. This
soil is ideal for feeder root growth and offers automatic protection
from severe ‘curl grub’ (beetle larvae) damage.
The most common plant diseases are fungi or viruses and get from plant
to plant by wind, water, moving soil around, unsterilized pruning
equipment or insect vectors. They appear on plants as spots,
discolourations, powdery coatings, bumps, blisters and dead patches.
Dothistroma Pine Needle Blight is a fungal problem that has
invaded pines in the Tumut region in Australia
Garden fungicides and pesticides produced for the home
gardener may never have been generally tested on various
species of trees for adverse reactions.
The reason – who even looks at a full sized tree to search for
insects and pests, let alone sprays a full sized tree? Some of these
chemicals can cause severe damage and even kill your trees, so
you must become a home expert of diagnosing general tree
problems and treating with the correct chemicals if necessary.
Most chemicals are designed for use on flowers, fruiting trees,
lawns, vegetables, commonly grown shrubs, edible crops i.e.:
wheat, rye etc., anywhere a plant is grown for commercial
A pest is a living creature. They have a number of ways of
damaging bonsai. Some pests will eat leaves, roots and bore into
the trunk, while others will suck sap from leaves. Beetles, moths,
ants, caterpillars, grubs and mites are all pests. A scale insect is
also a pest. Red spider and two spotted mite are pests. Red spider
is not a member of the spider family, rather the mite family.
Ficus (Fig) with Rust disease – Rust is a fungal disease
that appears as yellow, orange, red, or brown raised
bumps or blisters on the undersides of leaves.
Some of these diseases are soil borne and when this is the case are
harder to detect. If a soil borne fungus is attacking the roots of your tree,
the tree will start to look generally ill and may have floppy (un-hydrated_
leaves, or leaves that change colour out of season. With some very
diseased trees it is better to get rid of the tree; this also goes for trees
growing in your garden.
Diseased full sized trees can be very dangerous, especially in high
winds. A lot of leaf mildews can be resisted by the tree with a couple of
sprays of lime sulphur during the winter months when the tree has no
leaves. This kills the fungus spore. This is especially recommended for
Japanese Maples. These trees really suffer in the humid Sydney climate.
Aphids can be a common
pest for those who grow
bonsai. They cause damage
to the trees by feeding
sucking the sap with their
needle-like mouthparts and
occasionally introduce viruses
to the host plant in the
Bonsai Care: http://www.mellobonsai.com/care/Bonsai-aphids.aspx
One of the worst enemies of the bonsai enthusiast is the larvae of
beetles. Some beetle larvae are wood borers but they are a
different group to the root feeding beetle larvae. When root feeding
grubs hatch they survive and grow by eating the feeder roots of
your bonsai and this frequently causes the death of the tree.
Powdery Mildew on Trident Maple
Article continues on p3
PESTS & DISEASES AND CHEMICAL USE by Sue continued
IF YOU HAVE TO USE CHEMICALS ....**REMEMBER**
Avoid spray drift. Put vulnerable plants like Liquidambars out of the
way if you are doing a general spraying of your trees. Liquidambars
seem to be sensitive to all chemicals, yet my pest book shows them
as being sensitive to only one substance.
Read all safety and chemical
warnings before use
Liquidambar orientalis bonsai
Never mix chemicals. If you use something one day wait at least 2
weeks before using a different chemical.
Not sure if a plant is sensitive? If you are not sure how a plant will
react to a chemical, spray only one or two leaves and watch for a
week or so for any ill effects.
sourced from Wikimedia
Plants must be hydrated. Make sure the leaves are hydrated and
the soil is moist before applying chemicals
Avoid hot weather and rain. Do not use chemicals on hot days or
before or during rain.
Do not use on Liquidambar (Sweet Gum); this chemical is toxic to bees so
do not use when bees are active.
Lawn Grub Killer®
Contact insecticide for moth
and butterfly larvae of leaf
Systematic control of insect
pests. It is not registered for but
will control mites and red
Miticide for red spider and two
spotted mite; kills eggs as well
as active stages
Contact and penetrant action
for aphids and mites and fruit
Contact and stomach poison
with a systematic action for
aphids, thrips and lace bugs.
Fungicide including use as a
soil drench for soil borne
fungus; not suitable for all fungi
Contact poison for most pests
but spray must be applied to the
Broad spectrum fungicide
including downy mildew.
Pesticide closely related to
Insecticide with contact and
stomach poison action.
Fungicide for black spot, rust
and downy mildew.
Covers in a thin film of oil and
smothers pests such as scale
Contact poison with knockdown
action suitable for organic
Fungal disease control. Not for
use on leaves as it will burn; for
dormant trees only.
Do not use on Liquidambar (Sweet Gum). Do not use on plants that are
heat stressed; do not use on plants when soil is dry; do not use if raining
or about to rain
Do not use on Gardenias, Hibiscus or Liquidambar. Warning on Roses:
Although can actually be used on Roses but may cause damage if the
weather is very hot or the plant is dry
Do not use on Peaches, Plums, Apricots, Meyer Lemons, Seville Oranges,
Cumquats, Figs, Fuchsias, Hibiscus. It can be used on Roses or
Do not use on Liquidambar; spray is toxic to birds.
Do not use on Banksia, Grevillea or ornamental stone fruit. Do not use on
The chemical is registered for use on a wide range of plants including
Ficus (Figs), Fuchsia, Gardenia, Liquidambar or Rose. Whilst some are
wary of using it on the above plants, others have sprayed most of them
with it with no ill effects. It is toxic to bees.
This fungicide is toxic to fish
As this is closely related to ‘dimethoate’ I would add the same warnings to
Do not use on Liquidambar.
May cause irritation to nose, throat and skin – this is true of all chemicals
Avoid use in hot weather and do not use on plants that are dehydrated. Do
not use within 4 weeks of a sulphur spray.
Do not use on Liquidambar or in hot weather or when plant is dehydrated.
This information is true for all chemicals
Do not use on Apricots or within 2 weeks of an oil spray (pest oil or white
Article continues on p4
CLUB DISPLAY -FLOWERING TREES
CONCLUSION to Pests & Diseases and Chemical
Use by SUE from page 2
The best way to avoid pests and disease is to keep your trees healthy
with correct watering regimes and adequate fertilising. Never fertilise a
sick or dormant tree, and if using liquid fertiliser, just as with chemical
sprays, make sure the tree is hydrated and the soil is moist. Never
fertilise on extremely hot days.
A tree that is sick will not have the sap flowing at a fast rate and insects
that attack trees being opportunists will sense the tree is sick and weak
and they will have a better chance of attacking it.
Stunning Azalea in flower
Unfortunately living in the inner city I suffer from all the pests that attack
neighbouring trees. Close living neighbours of mine have a palm tree that
is always under ‘red-spider’ attack and as a consequence this pest is a
real problem in my back yard, as is a neighbouring Lilly Pilly tree, full
sized, that is permanently damaged from a tiny insect called psyllid
(Trioza egeniae). Year after year the psyllids suck sap from the new
leaves causing ugly oval lumps on the upper surface and corresponding
depressions on the lower surface.
A soil borne virus more often than not kills the tree that it is attacking.
However the tree puts up a valiant effort at fighting the invader and can
fight for up to 40 years till eventually succumbing. During this fight as
individual roots lose the battle, you will see branches dying each year
until the whole tree is dead.
presented by Lee
With bonsai we can control to a certain extent the soil environment that
our trees live in. However there are some shrubs that are used in bonsai
that are known for having root problems after a certain age. When
collected from the wild or sometimes just repotted these plants give up
the ghost and die. In some cases azaleas will grow new shoots which will
all of a sudden go limp and die off. Each time new shoots grow they go
limp and die. I have found this with several old azaleas I have dug up,
and they have had great success with many others. It seems that
azaleas over 20 years old have this root disease problem and when I
collect old azaleas I don’t bother with ones that show severe die back
from an unknown source.
Les’s Crab Apple
ROBERT STEVEN AT ILLAWARRA’S, STANWELL TOPS BONSAI MEET
Notes taken by LEE, Stanwell Tops, Sept 2013
Robert Steven is an Indonesian
Bonsai Master. He started
doing and collecting Bonsai in
1979. He now has a permanent
exhibit Centre with over 500
Bonsai made up of a wide
variety of species. He has won
more than 200 national and
international Bonsai completion
ANGLE, COMPOSITION and STRUCTURE
Good bonsai should make the viewer imagine where it would grow
in nature. It should be as close to nature as possible while still
being an art form. Bonsai can talk for itself, people can see a big
tree in the bonsai and think of what conditions it grew in and what
forces caused it to grow the way it did. Every tree in nature grows
its special way because of its environment and what natural forces
do to it.
Maples: some people let a tree grow as it will so it develops a thick head
of foliage. The right way to develop a tree is to make a good structure.
When you develop a good structure you have a beautiful tree when it is
winter bare. Only a good structure can make a bonsai superb. When you
have a good structure you don't need leaves. Many people hedge prune
their tree and don't develop its structure. The leaves cover the tree, hide
the structure but the leaves are only on the outside.
If you have a deciduous bonsai the best way to do this is to defoliate.
Remove leaves and work on structure. Be prepared to spend a couple
more years but you will get a better bonsai with this approach.
Many people make this same mistake, they make it apical dominant. You
cannot design trees other than conifers as apical dominant trees. In
general most deciduous trees are open on top. No single line forms the
tops. It is an open shape at the upper part because they need more
Trees need a water source, sunlight and space. Basic
Roots grow to find water. Foliage grows to find sunlight. People
pick up a rule and use it as a rule. Only a tree growing in open
space with water and sun will have a standard root formation
spreading out from the trunk. But this is not right. Not all trees can
grow in this manner so think outside the box.
Take pines - in America, Europe, China & Japan, the trees will
grow in different shapes. The same tree will have different growth
patterns due to environmental pressures.
Pines are apical dominant so the tree grows linear and the apex
will always be strong. However, get a climatic mishap such as
snow, wind, fallen rock, the apex is damaged and one branch will
take over the dominance. Chinese pines in the mountains grow
toward the sun so you always get branches stretching to the light
which will dictate tree’s growth habit.
You try to suggest a certain idea when you are designing. You
need the idea and the technical aspect to do the design. You must
master the tree’s physical characteristics and the proportional
aspects. You must put these all together to successfully create
Robert says he hasn't developed this concept, the concept is
there. Robert just employs it.
This picture is from a Sept. 2011 workshop undertaken by Robert
Steven in Namibia. Having just returned from my African Safari in
Namibia, this bonsai expresses the typical branch structure of
trees in this part of the world.
People are learning from the books, the Japanese do few deciduous
trees, mainly conifers. So branch structure is mainly for conifers. This is
not a structure for tropical or deciduous trees. In these trees here is no
single line dominant.
Robert Steven takes photos of different trees and studies their structures.
Deciduous structure: take out the central apical shoot and develop side
shoots. This is the correct structural pattern for deciduous and tropical
Trend: people like to make dense foliage areas in conifers. In
bonsai we want to make a major tree in a miniature size in a pot.
All the physical elements should be proportionally ideal. The more
you cover a tree in dense foliage the less it looks natural. Getting
that perfect foliage alone does not make the tree look natural.
Trees don’t have neat foliage pads, only faraway trees have a
clean cut silhouette. When you are closer you see foliage pad
separation. The only thing that makes your tree look natural is
negative areas. The more you do this the more natural your tree
Namibia Sept 2013
MORE ON STYLING BY ROBERT STEVEN
Personally I found Robert Steven's attitude to styling, verbalised the way I try
to look at my trees. While a lot of the available non-conifer stock has been
grown for a single trunk it is still possible to find subject matter than can be
developed as multi trunk. His vision also allows us to be more proactive in
styling decisions if the tree does not fall into the accepted guidelines. But he
stressed that the two guiding principles must always be aesthetics and
STYLNG LINES –Single/multi lines
From a talk by Robert Steven, Indonesian Bonsai Master –
notes by Lee at the Illawarra Bonsai Society, Stanwell Tops
Weekend Workshops, September 2013.
Single line styling is conifer styling. Deciduous and evergreen
tree growth patterns are multi line. It is a more natural line for
non-conifer species and bonsai stylists should give more
credence to this styling option instead of overwhelmingly going
for the single trunk.
All rules are based on Aesthetic and horticultural aspects. There is always a
reason behind the rule.
Take your time to find the tree’s potential.
The more Robert Steven read and studied the more confused he
became. Looking at bonsai every one he liked the experts said
wasn't good, the ones they liked he didn't. He studied the rules
but went his way towards more species friendly, naturalistic
styling. Initially he was ridiculed but gradually the negative
opinions started changing as the naturalistic feel of Steven's
trees started to gain adherents.
Robert Steven is voluble in his enthusiasm that styling is bringing
out the tree's potential and not sticking blindly to rules. Well
applied, this outlook is not only sympathetic to the plant but also
takes into account its horticultural needs and aesthetic values.
Group arrangements are nice. When you do a grouping there are several
things you should avoid. Distance between each tree should not be the
same. The trees look separate and the composition is boring. The trees
should not be in a straight line, you need to vary them to create perspective.
You can vary the angle of the trees. Don’t position the trees in the middle of
the pot. Try to leave more space in the front as this will give more depth with
a wider foreground. Do a concave arrangement, not convex. You want a
curvilinear perspective. It gives an illusion of a wider scene.
Note: Next month’s newsletter will feature notes from practical
demonstrations by Robert Steven at Stanwell Tops including the restyling of
a Pyracantha and working on an Elm clump using artificial branches.
Sydney Bonsai Spectacular
Merrylands RSL, Military Road, Merrylands
Canberra Bonsai Society, Annual Show
Daramalan College, Dickson, ACT
School of Bonsai, Annual Show
Ray Nesci Nursery, Dural
Newcastle Bonsai Society, Annual
Gold Coast Tweed Bonsai Club Annual
Geelong Bonsai Club Annual Show
Charlestown Bowling Club
Robina Community Centre
Masonic Hall, Belmont
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