Central Virginia Bonsai Society
Lynchburg, Virginia
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Items below from the November 11, 2021, CVBS Newsletter
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FIRST FREEZE> With the possible exception of turnips and collard greens, the 2021 growing season is over in Lynchburg. This is a bit disappointing yet welcome. The prospect of less frequent watering, no fertilizer mixing and application, and relaxing the surveillance for damaging insects is pleasant. The color changes on deciduous trees are always wonderful. Shedding of old leaves and needles gives an opportunity to view the development of the structure of each tree with fewer visual obstructions. What can be observed gives the opportunity to improve the underlying structure by many techniques such as wiring, pruning, and removal. Some find the needed work unveiled at this time to be unpleasant. I enjoy improving my trees. The application of mechanical techniques can be done over most of the next few months and gives great opportunity to make additional artistic input (hopefully in a positive way) to each bonsai.
A chore created by the arrival of freezing weather is putting the trees in proper places for the winter. In my garden it involves turning the benches to form vertical ďpartitionsĒ running in an east to west line. This provides shade on a good bit of ground on the north side of the partitions due to the low angle the sun traces in the southern sky for most of winter. The north side of the partition is where most of the trees will winter. The shaded area makes the ground colder and protects the pots from receiving unwanted warming by direct sun on their roots. The colder, darker environment for the pots helps keep the bonsai in dormancy during the depth of winter and is especially helpful in delaying the emergence of new growth in spring. Premature emergence greatly increases the vulnerability of many species to damage by late spring frosts, a constant spring threat in our area.
My trees as still on the benches but will go on the ground over the next few days so that the benches can be turned vertical when I have help. I like to leave them on the benches for a couple of hard freezes to encourage moving to dormancy and also to make sure that the various furry creatures which eat bonsai will have had time to nest elsewhere. With the arrival of much cooler weather and shorter days, watering has been adjusted to every other day in most cases. In a few weeks, the watering frequency will be further reduced and adjusted to avoid having pots be overly wet on freezing nights.
Maintenance is made easier if the trees are grouped together by type so that water, spraying, special protection, etc. can be applied to the specific target rather than being applied in a general fashion. For example, those pines susceptible to needle cast fungus are put together because their watering, temperature, and spraying needs are similar. Other pines are grouped separately. Early emerging deciduous are separated from the later blooming ones. Tender rooted cuttings are held in their own sections. The most tender things are placed in the sunny window of my studio where they remain cold but do not freeze.
In most respects, the past growing season has been a good one for my bonsai. Rooting cuttings has been mostly successful. Some of the difficult to root varieties had low yield (as usual) but Iím pleased with the overall results. The Adams Arakawa tridents rooted very well this year. I will leave them in the rooting pots for one more year to assure that there are excellent roots for the first transplanting to individual pots. Among the varieties rooted are lots of several azalea varieties, cotoneaster, chojubai quince, female persimmons, dwarf stewartia, Zuisho, and others. Zuisho air layers were partially successful but not as good as I had wished. I think that I have, perhaps, been a bit greedy. I am coming to think that layering smaller diameter limbs is more likely to be successful than trying to layer larger ones. I did manage to take four and have hopes for one more which has roots but not enough to safely remove from the mother plant this year.
A large group of princess persimmon seedlings were individually potted in late winter of í21. The growth has been spectacular compared to previous years. I attribute much of the success to early control of a leaf curling aphid which has attacked the new growth in most previous years. I used Bayer 3 in 1 systemic. A big surprise was finding new male blooms appearing on three or four of these in early October. They were clearly happy with conditions. I have never seen persimmons bloom except during the normal spring blooming time. Pollen flew out of the blooms when jiggled and there were ants inside the blooms gathering food of some sort. There were no female blooms. Hopefully there will be plenty of those next spring.
The persimmons I have in bonsai pots have been extremely productive this year. They are covered with colorful fruit. The color and shape varies from plant to plant but I love them all. When the leaves drop, the brightly colored fruit are the brightest thing in the garden.
A large deodara cedrus in the yard is creating clouds of yellow pollen which is covering everything in the yard. I donít know of many other plants which have male blooms at this time of year. Very strange.
I have begun doing some of the winter chores already. The primary task has been to remove last yearís needles from the two-flush pines. If shoot pruning is done around July 1 on a two-flush pine, there be a second growth of shorter needles. It is very satisfying to see the bushy look traded for a more refined look with short needles resulting from proper use of shoot pruning and later needle removal. Wire removal can be done now. In fact, wire should be removed whenever it starts to cut into the tree. Late summer growth often causes rapid swelling of the limbs which can lead to wire marking. Wire can be applied now as well as be removed. This is a great season for applying wire to young plants to start establishing the basic trunk and limb structure.

ADAMSí BONSAI HAPPENINGS> I was pleased to be invited to give a talk on pines at the Upstate New York Bonsai Society last month. Constance seized the opportunity to plan a side trip to tour Buffalo as part of our travel. The presentation to the Upstate NY group was newly developed. I had not given this talk before. I tried to make the case that pines are the aristocrats of bonsai yet using them for bonsai is well within the reach of any interested hobbyist. A central focus was to keep the program length short enough that taking a nap in the middle would not be as appealing as the full three-hour presentation I have used many times. I tried to whet appetites and then offered my book for those who wanted to get full immersion in the two types of pines. Book sales were good and many who already had the book asked me to sign it for them. It was great to see many old friends who I hadnít seen for at least two years. Some of these were at the National Show but that was too busy to be much more than superficially social. I especially appreciated Bill Vís kind comments about the new program. By his own admission he is a tough critic. Billís bionic makeover is still in progress. He has a few more surgical appointments before he will be restored to his youth. I was very happy to see how good he looked, especially compared to the last time I saw him at the National. His mobility is much improved. Progress is being made, and in the right direction.
Seeds from Japan are still impossible to get. Iím very concerned about how to deal with this. Not having seeds makes it hard to grow seedlings.
I have had more visitors to the nursery than usual for the last several weeks. I almost always enjoy the visitors but have been especially pleased to see the number of younger enthusiasts who have started bonsai and have many years ahead of them to develop their skills. Some of us are getting older but there seem to be a number of youngsters who are learning and will be around to fill our bonsai shoes in the future.