Japanese Black Pine Pinus thunbergii

Pinus thunbergii before needle thinning

Removing needles can be as important as pruning branches, in order to stimulate back-budding and develop branch structure. As with most evergreen conifers the normal approach is to cut back to something green but if there isn’t anything growing lower down a branch, what do you do? A fellow club member asked me to look at his Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) at a recent show as he was concerned about this.

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English Elm

English Elm

8-10 inches English Elm with big hole in trunk. The material has been grown for many years, building up good branch movement and ramification. However it’s not without its faults. The thing about ‘faults’ in bonsai material is that they can be made advantages if you can find a way of using the fault as a feature or rather as a way to tell a story about the tree.

The Elm used has some bad negative taper and empty space just above soil level. One possible way to improve this would have been to air layer above the negative taper part. Grafting on new branches low down would also be a way of eventually correcting the negative taper.

However if your fortunate to have better examples of the species in your collection then an argument could be made for trying something different…

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Our club night this year had a very festive feel to the evening and we had many well dressed Christmas bonsai trees, a good supply of food and party games including a festive quiz. Thank you to everyone who came along and especially to Graham, Reg and Paul and Moira for organising the quiz and games and Sally for sorting out the yummy nibbles.

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Dave has been a Swindon Club member for around 4 years and was new to the hobby of bonsai at that time. It was his grandson who wanted to learn originally but after 6 months left but Dave continued in the hobby.

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1st place, DA Picea

1st place, DA Picea

A change from the usual at the club this year; we held a December meeting and invited members to decorate their bonsai trees with Christmas decorations. The response was amazing, we had to bring out additional tables to fit the record number of entries on! Our members fully got into the swing of Christmas.

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Kit started bonsai as a hobby in 2012 and this was the same year he joined Swindon Bonsai Club. His first ever bonsai was a Cherry tree and his favorite tree is the Japanese Apricot the Prunus mume, while his least favourite tree species is Ash.

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Paul working on Juniper

Paul working on a Juniper

Paul is the Chairman of Swindon Bonsai Club and has been doing bonsai since the early 1990s so has over 26 years experience with keeping, growing and maintaining bonsai trees. His first ever bonsai tree was a Siberian Elm which was given to him originally and he still has it now and it was in the Swindon Winter Image Show this year. Furthermore, to celebrate his bonsai achievements in 2016 he was enrolled on the Federation of British Bonsai (FoBBs) ‘Roll of Honour’ which for Paul was totally unexpected and took his breath away.

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Derek started the hobby of bonsai in 2006 so has 11 years of practical experience with trees and plants as bonsai. He also does cacti and succulents as a hobby too and he finds that the two hobbies compliment one another. He is also the Chairman of the Wiltshire Branch of the British Cactus and Succulent Society.

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Pinus thunbergii (Japanese Black Pine)

Everyone finds their firm favourite for bonsai and Ross is no exception and is dedicated to growing and developing an expansive collection of Japanese Black Pines (Pinus thunbergii) as bonsai. He started out in the hobby in around 2003 so has been developing his bonsai knowledge for 14 years.

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