Become A Member
- Only SA Bonsai Society financial members are permitted participate at workshops or digs.
- Workshops cover potting, pruning, shaping of trees and general problems. Members are encouraged to bring trees for advice.
- A free library is available for use by members.
- Supper is available.
- A trading table stocks pots, tools, wire and other bonsai items for sale.
Family $50 (living under the same roof)
Country Members $20
Structure of Workshops
Attending a workshop as a participant or as an observer is a particularly useful process in developing our bonsai abilities.
The SA Bonsai Society offers three distinctly different workshop programs:
- Monthly workshops
- Informal workshops hosted at club members’ homes
- Formal structured workshops with interstate/overseas tutors.
The monthly workshops, held on the third Tuesday of each month, are a wonderful opportunity for social dialogue and the sharing of ideas on bonsai design.
The aim of these workshops is principally to share a number of design ideas, and then for members to work on their trees with guidance from more experienced members. The workshops are a member benefit, and although visitors are welcome as observers, it is an opportunity for members to work and obtain guidance on their tree design.
Workshops start at 7.30pm and we aim to be out of the hall by 10.00pm. So as to run our workshops as effectively as possible you are asked to
- Wear your name badge (name badges will be kept in their boxes at the entry to the hall, and should be returned when you leave).
- Obtain a number when you set up … this way everyone is assisted in order.
- One tree per member … it is not always possible to advise on more than one tree. It is more beneficial for members to receive advice on one tree only, work on that tree at the meeting … and consequently consolidate learning rather than becoming confused through working on too many trees. Remember that bonsai is a process, it is about thought and consideration, it is not an experience that can be rushed through.
- You should have a turntable and bring all wire and tools with you. Wire is available for purchase at workshops, but other bonsai requirements are generally only available at the monthly meetings.
- Members need to practice wiring their own trees, cut their own branches … more experienced members are at the workshops to guide others; not to do the wiring and styling for others. We all learn more effectively through hands on and practical experience.
- Please clean up as you go … definitely before you go. All ‘rubbish’ needs to be placed in the wheelie bins (that will be brought in from outside and into the hall). Please sweep up the area around you.
- If you are available for end of the evening clean up – your help is very much appreciated. Remember that many hands make light work and it ensures that the same few volunteers do not have too late a night.
We aim to start winding things up from about 9.30pm on workshop evenings so that our evening is finished at a reasonable hour.
Workshops with a visiting demonstrator
Participants arrive and set up at benches provided. It’s good manners to arrive punctually to set up your workshop space and to meet your instructor. Spaces will be available 30 minutes prior to your workshop session so you can prepare your work area.
The Bonsai Instructor moves around to each participant individually and talks to them about the design of their tree and sets a task for the participant to achieve (eg, branch design and removal). She/he then moves on to the next participant and repeats the process. Once the Instructor has seen all the participants, he/she will come back to you to see how you’re progressing and then direct you to the next stage of the tree. This process continues until all the trees have been created. Please remember that each session only lasts 3 hours so the work is fairly intensive.
Please advise if you require the assistance of an experienced club member.
There will also be observers present watching the creation of the trees, however these people should not interrupt the Bonsai Master or you whilst working on the tree.
Present your instructor with a tree that is worthy of his/her time and effort (and your money). Work on appropriate material.
Maximise the value of working with an experienced bonsai instructor. There’s not very much to be learnt from immature plant material where you might end up with one first branch and a new leader. On the other hand, it is recognised that great bonsai material is not always available when you want it, however you will get a better outcome when you give your instructor an interesting tree to work on, so try to make the effort.
Prepare material beforehand
Clean the tree up as much as you can:
- get rid of weeds
- scrape away the soil so the nebari is visible
- cut out dead branches on the interior (be positive they are dead first. If you are unsure, leave them)
Consider the experience of your instructor
If your instructor has a reputation for and experience in creating a pretty azalea bonsai, it’s probably not appropriate to bring along a gigantic collected tree to be carved with a chain saw. However, it may not always be the case.
Come prepared, bring all the tools and materials you need to carry out the work planned
If you are working on a huge stump and you need a chain saw, bring your own. If you need a drill for thread grafting, bring your own. If you need raffia for dramatic branch bending, bring your own. It is not appropriate to borrow tools and materials from other workshop participants.
Uniquely identify your tools
Paint the handles of your tools with a rust resistant paint, or engrave your name on them. It makes identification a lot easier.
Prepare your pot
If you intend to repot, bring the pot prepared with mesh already wired over the drainage holes and a wire to stabilise your tree already in place. If you are intending to do a forest setting have a number of tie wires already in place.
- a turntable
- chocks to help with assessing various angles for the tree
- new potting mix
- muck if doing a saikei
- selection of appropriate size wire
- an apron, if you’re the messy type
- soil surface finishes such as moss or gravel
- a water sprayer to wet the soil for the moss and to spray roots to stop them drying out and to mist the foliage
- disposable gloves if you are working with muck, repotting or if you are allergic to junipers
- a notebook and pen to record the instructor’s advice
- a camera – a photographic record of your tree’s development is invaluable. Such photos can also be helpful in adding interest to future articles you write for our newsletter
A gentle afterthought
Your Instructor can’t be with you all the time – there are other people in the workshop seeking his/her time. Be patient and try to avoid seeking “design decisions” from the audience – no matter how experienced or talented they may be. You are paying to share your instructor’s experience, so don’t introduce a third party into the collaboration. Try to avoid asking the instructor questions when he/she is attending to other workshop participants.
And finally, etiquette for bonsai workshop observers
Please be mindful that it is the participant who has paid for the instructor’s time. As an observer you should not interrupt communication between the instructor and the participant. Instructors have their own personal style, and some are more willing than others to involve observers in discussion, and will run their workshops as a teaching opportunity for everyone. Others may only communicate with the participant, so you need to be paying attention to benefit from the instruction. However, this is something that you can only become aware of at the time. Please also remember that everyone is trying to learn, so keep the chatter with fellow observers to a minimum.
Observance of these guidelines helps to ensure that everyone gets maximum benefit from their workshop experience.