summer 2016/17


SA Bonsai Newsletter

Volume 25      Issue 4      Summer 2016/17



President’s Report 

Andrew Ward

The 2016 bonsai year has followed in our tradition of being a full program with much variety. This year we only had one visiting demonstrator – Brenda Parker, who visited in March 2016. We have taken into consideration member suggestions for activities and presentations.

In 2017 we will again continue on our busy program – this time including visits by national demonstrators as part of The AABC Visiting Demonstrator Program, and for the next few years we will be able to have two AABC support visits (the AABC subsidises travel costs associated with brining an interstate demonstrator). We will also be looking more widely to other demonstrators who are not as yet on the AABC Visiting Demonstrator Program, but are presenting at an exceptionally high level in their area. One planned visit is from a bonsai enthusiast who is particularly knowledgeable in selecting suitable Yamadori material – this will be a practical experience for our members which will incorporate an olive dig on the weekend followed by a Tuesday evening demonstration.

It’s been quite some time since we have incorporated some other general gardening speakers – I hope that we are able to host at least two speakers this year. If you have any ideas, or have heard of anyone who was particularly interesting, please let me know ( or speak with any of our committee members to pass on your ideas.

We might even have an international demonstrator … that makes a busy year ahead doesn’t it?

Our Annual Show on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 October was our most successful yet.
Visitor numbers were up, the standard of trees on display was excellent and our members took to the three point display competition enthusiastically. Novice trees were of a very high standard while trees throughout the show were of an exceptional standard. Members and visitors alike were smiling, the demonstrations and children’s activity ‘Build A Bonsai’ were both heaving with participants and the sales tables, heavy with bonsai and other bonsai related items at the start of the weekend, were very much emptier by the end of the weekend. The coffee cart was the centre of much activity with coffee sorted by Mark and Sue and eats by Mark and Jenny. Of course the displays and presentations by Ikebana International were again wonderful.
Well done everyone for pulling together this annual event which stands as a highlight of our calendar but is also increasingly becoming the excellent value highlight for all in the general community who have a fleeting interest in bonsai, horticulture and/or artistic display.

The December Christmas meeting was a lot of fun, with over 50 members putting their entry together for the ‘Alternative Bonsai Judging’ Competition, with winner receiving a full sized Haigh’s Chocolate Frog … A wonderful range of foods was supplied by our members, with plenty of time for fellowship over tea, coffee, soft drinks or the very popular bottled red and white wine. Thank you everyone for putting in the effort – our success is dependent upon your motivation and enthusiasm and it is always a joy to be reminded that the club flourishes with the support of our members and the constant work and commitment of your committee.

Remember that the March meeting is also our Annual General Meeting. I will be renominating as President for the two years 2017 – 2018. We have the position of Treasurer being vacated by Bob Smith who has been our Treasurer for the best part of three decades. Malcolm Jenkins has been working alongside Bob throughout 2016 so as to be better prepared for the position. All general committee positions are vacated annually and nominations are sought from financial members who are committed to serving the best interests of our members, including the promotion of the art and science of bonsai in the many forms that this takes in the 21st century and upholding values of integrity and honesty associated with maintaining the good name of The SA Bonsai Society. Download the nomination form

Following an exceptionally mild spring, the wettest I am aware of for a good 30 years, we are likely to be hit by a hot summer with the regular extremes of heat. Have yourself and your bonsai ready for this … water, water, water and shade from the sun’s scorching rays. Protect your pots on very hot days – some people are surprised when they find out just how hot our pots can become without cover – it is little wonder that some plants decide that it is all too difficult to survive.

On behalf of our committee, good wishes for a safe and happy Christmas and New Year. I look forward to our adventures in 2017.

Two special  events have already been organised for 2017:
Avril Stanley will be our guest in March doing a workshops on the weekend of 5 and 6 of March and will be the keynote speaker at out meeting on Tuesday the 7th. March
Sophie Thompson will be the keynote speaker in April where her talk will be centred around, Autumn, preparing your garden for winter.

Time For Reflection

Following the success of the 2016 SA Bonsai Show, several members have offered observations

Reflection 1: Sue Hines
This year was the first time that I had attended the annual show and it proved a great weekend even though it was exhausting. We started early on Friday to assist in setting up the hall. In fact the process went very smoothly thanks to all the people who have spent many years in planning and setting up in the past – it all ran like clockwork. By Friday afternoon the hall was dressed with great trees and many items for sale.

 Saturday the hall was full of people, with many of them spending hours just wandering around and taking in all things Bonsai.
From my coffee machine post I could see kids sitting down with Janet as they planted their first Bonsai tree. I could also watch Matt and Luke as they demonstrated bonsai basics to an attentive audience and each time they finished I wished that I could sneak one of their trees home with me.
On Sunday, even though it was pouring with rain, people decided that it was a great place to spend some time so the crowds continued to visit. But soon it was 5pm and it took only an hour for the hall to be cleared.
Overall I was impressed with what we as a club are providing for our members and the general public and I look forward to participating in future shows.

Reflection 2: Bob Smith 
The advent of the EFTPOS machine to support the general public to make payments, greatly enhanced the sales and security aspects of the show. The trading table had never been busier with such a large range of stock for people to choose from. This broad selection coupled with the involvement of volunteer members to help man the trading table meant that it all came together extremely well albeit quite hectic as we lined up to use the EFTPOS machine.
Well done and many thanks to the trading table volunteers.

Reflection 3: Boyce Carnie
Every year the annual show is more fantastic than the year before. Can’t wait to see what will be next year!

Reflection 4: Annie Reid
In the past I have attended several Bonsai Shows  (the 2011 show was the impetus for me to join the club) but this was the first time I’d participated as a club member and been actively involved. It provided quite a different perspective  as I now grasp what is required to set up the venue, how one goes about offering items for sale, and most importantly what is involved in exhibiting a tree.
This was the very first time I had presented a tree for judging – partly because I don’t consider much that I have is worthy and also because I thought I was learning a great deal without having to bother. I’m not so sure any more!

I now understand that even as a Novice,  I need to make decisions now if I want to exhibit a tree next year. I realise I can’t pop something in the right pot a week before the show – and what is the right pot anyway? Neither can I clip a Juniper in spring and expect it to look its best by October – well perhaps the experts can but mine looked awful.
I thought I’d done a wonderful job preparing my tree by applying the generous supply of moss that Joe had given me but I think he was rather horrified when he saw the result. At one point during the weekend, Janet sprinkled tiny black stones over my moss to illustrate how to integrate the moss more naturally. Ah! So thats how it’s done – next year I might at least have mastered the art of moss!
In the interests of having another go in 2017 I’m already eyeing off a couple of possible contenders and to that end am madly feeding them, dutifully wiring them and attempting to practice steps that will  lead to some thing that might be considered ramification (when are those visiting tutor workshops?). I might even lash out and buy a few new pots.

In between my tentative regime I’m also seeking assistance from the internet:
This first post talks about flowering trees coming into bloom at the right time for the Japanese Kokufu Exhibition > way out of my league but I’m sure you will find it interesting.

Bonsai Basho provides an excellent guide to selecting pots for bonsai.

Cape Bonsai Kai offers a useful summary of points to consider when preparing a tree for exhibition.

Creating a raft-style bonsairaft

Annie Reid

A lively demonstration on how to create a raft-style bonsai was presented at our November meeting by Janet Sabey and her able team of assistants, Howard Hamon, Andrew Ward and and Luke Parsons.

Janet was keen to use one of the ‘club’ Junipers for the task as these plants are readily available to us and have the sinuous trunk that makes for an interesting flow to the base or raft that supports the upright branches that will become the new trunks.raft3

As they worked, the team explained how the raft-style occurs in nature when a tree is over turned by the elements such is strong wind or landslide. Over time the original trunk may root further into the ground and the branches will gradually grow upright forming a series of new trunks.

The difficulty in creating a raft is managing the root system which when overturned will remain partially vertical. Janet explained that this protruding section can be bent over and gradually trimmed back. I also noticed during the final planting of the raft, that a depression was made in the soil to accomodate the roots and keep them as low as possible. raft1

While the Juniper was still in its original pot, the trunk was secured with stocking fibre to a wire mesh frame. This is essential as the wire grid enables wire to be threaded through it to secure the branches into an upright position. The team stressed the importance of keeping the wiring of the new uprights reasonably loose to allow the new trunks to grow without being damaged by the wire.

It is also at this point that any strong branches growing on what will become the bottom of the trunk are removed. The bottom of the trunk is also scored to stimulate root generation.

 To create a more natural and dramatic scene, Janet placed Mallee roots under several section of the trunk to create the illusion that the original tree had fallen onto rocks.

The new raft is finally planted in a large pot and left to grow freely for two years. During the growing season Luke’s preferred feeding regime for Junipers is a mixture of slow release fertiliser and Dynamic Lifter, augmented by soluble Power Feed – when he remembers to apply it, he hastened to add.

Further useful information on the raft-style can be found at Bonsai Malta and the Bonsai Learning Centre

Creative Bonsai Display – Singing in the Rain!

Andrew Ward

‘Make them Laugh’, hit song of the 1952 musical ‘Singing in the Rain’ sticks in my head as one of my favourite childhood songs that has followed me the rest of my life.

Put this with the song ‘You Gotta Have a Gimmick’ from the 1962 musical ‘Gypsy’, then you’ve really got the essence of what is fun, fun, fun!

Recent developments in international bonsai are trending with alternative ways of showing excellent bonsai, rather than presenting the sometimes imposing ‘museum piece presentations’ that have traditionally accompanied the display of bonsai. The result is that a new wave of artistic thought is being encouraged, bringing with it an entirely new audience – people who had previously been put off by bonsai displays that have been bench followed by bench of bonsai accompanied by ‘DO NOT TOUCH’ signs.

In 2017 we will be presenting further information on alternative displays, the internet is a good place to start and is full of ideas that would not regularly make it into mainstream printed publications.

Our 2017 Annual Show (weekend of Friday 13 – Sunday 15 October) will have a special section separate from other bonsai displayed with an encouragement award donated by Janet Sabey of $100 to the bonsai judged as ‘Most Innovative Container’.

This follows on from the Special Display Category – ‘Best Three Point Display’, which Janet sponsored at the 2016 show, and will also be a feature of the 2017 Annual SA Bonsai Society Show.
Let only your own imagination limit your creativity!

Moving Big Mamma

Janet Sabey

About 45 years ago I found a clump of Pt. Jackson figs which had been tied together as an experiment, on the rubbish heap of a nursery Belair National Park.  The price was right (free) so I took it home and potted it up.

Over the years the clump has grown well and been repotted quite a few times.  I used to be able to lift it, but it has grown bigger and stronger and I have gone in the opposite direction, smaller and weaker.  About 20 years ago it went into a free form cement pot which came from Bali, pretty rough, but lots of character.  This pot when empty weighed 17 kgs.  

Big Mamma has produced lots of progeny since living with me.  In 2014, Lindsay Bebb spent a day pruning her rather heavily, filling the green wheelie bin with cuttings.  Some of these cuttings I rescued and the bases were up to 8 cms in diameter.  All the cuttings grew.

Whilst being transported to the Hotel Grand Chancellor for our 2015 convention the pot broke.  The tree was placed in the foyer of the hotel but it was obvious that the pot had to be replaced.  When it came home again, it was placed on the bench and wrapped in gladwrap awaiting its next stage.

Finding a new pot proved difficult!  We were talking a big pot!   Andrew located one in Melbourne when he went to the Bendigo weekend.  The vendor delivered the pot up to Bendigo, Andrew brought it back to Adelaide and he then brought it to my house 3 months ago.  The pot is a two-man lift – empty!

At the end of November the call went out for volunteers to repot Big Mamma.

On Saturday morning six strong and very capable club members arrived to start work.  Janice Kain had provided several large cement blocks for the base.  I had acquired a large heavy duty turntable at the Hobart Convention.  I had also bought 8 bags of potting mix as a base for the eventual mix which contained plenty of other goodies.  There was also a bucket of mixed Neutrog fertilisers, including Sea Mungus, blood & bone, Bounce Back and  Rapid Raiser, which went into the pot with the potting mix.  Andrew was in charge of mixing the final potting mix which was very open.

My existing benches were dismantled and moved to make a place for the big display.  Weeds were dug up, bonsai moved out of the way onto the lawn.  Two of us scratched away the old soil and trimmed the roots, then the tree was placed in the pot which was half full of mix and fertilisers.  Lots of repositioning – we were not going to get another chance at this – at last the final placement and then the rest of the soil mix and fertilisers went into the pot with much poking with chopsticks to get the soil to settle down.

It looks stupendous!

I am the happiest and luckiest person in our lovely Club.  Big Mamma has been showered with lots of love and attention, water,  Seasol and Superthrive, and is absolutely thriving.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Andrew Ward, Philip Ekers, Alan Jabs, Malcolm Jenkins, Malcolm Roberts and Bob Smith.  You were all wonderful!

I faithfully promise, that I will NEVER ask for it to be moved again, so if you want to see it, you have to make the journey to my house – everybody welcome!

My neighbour, from whom we had to borrow an extra green bin, enquired about the visitors I had that Saturday morning.  When I showed him what had been done he said “Is it possible to hire these people to fix up my backyard?”  I assured him money could not buy friends like these.


For another story about rescuing unwanted trees and making them beautiful bonsai, enjoy one of Graham Potter’s videos in which he rescues an English Yew.


Fig-ured Out

Alan Jabs

Just back from Canada, I took the chance to get out in the warm sunshine and ‘play’ Bonsai but then I received a text message asking if I would be able to help re-pot the big fig at Janet’s.  A check of the calendar and yes, I’m in.

Whilst Janet writes about the re-pot above, I will add that the day was a good one with brilliant sunshine and a little bit of hard graft as well which is something we all need –  time out in the garden.

The benches at Janet’s place have had little attention over the past few years and the fig needed a new home so we dived in – weeds were removed, filling two plus large wheelie bins in the process and a sturdy base installed to hold the large pot, soil and the fig. After the installation, benches were reinstated along with the trees, pea straw ground mat and all was well watered. 
And the best part of the day was the opportunity to observe this process while also assisting and thus building my knowledge. This, together with the company of others as keen as I am, just made the day.

Winnipeg Bonsai President

I mentioned Canada in the opening line where I attended a meeting of the Winnipeg Bonsai Society.
Like the SA Bonsai Society, they have regular evening meetings on a monthly basis. They run through the normal committee agenda and then open the meeting to the members some of whom bring in trees for discussion. A question and answer presentation was on the night I attended where the President Paul Collard and Joe Grande (Editor of BCI Bonsai & Stone Appreciation magazine) answered questions on a range of issues raised by the membership. Then five members had the opportunity to feature their trees and present what they were currently doing or if there was an issue, seeking advice from all present. Many of those present were novices proving that Bonsai continues to be attractive to all. The evening wrapped up with the drawing of the raffle and then retiring to the adjoining coffee shop/bar for more off the cuff conversation and to watch the Ice Hockey game on the large TV.
Interest in what we do down under was a big ticket question as was how we run our annual show as they are experiencing some difficulty with promoting in a poor location. Promising to follow up with more detailed advice for them, we concluded the evening and I got my ride home.

Attending the meeting and now having firm friends across the other side of the world would never have happened if it were not for my membership of the SA Bonsai Society and this alone is worth every cent of the annual membership fee. The chance to learn and be a part of a wider community through friendship and a common interest has built that skill and knowledge and is something to cherish.

Elm Leaf Beetle

Andrew Ward

My first experience with elm leaf beetle was a number of years ago on visits to Melbourne. It was during the extended drought of the early ‘noughties’ … a time when Australian gardeners and our horticulture was under attack by the lack of water; a time when the strength of many mature plants was compromised by a range of pests and diseases.

Elm leaf beetle

One of these problem pests was the elm leaf beetle. It was never a matter of if the elm leaf beetle would ever arrive in South Australia, it was more a matter of when would it arrive. I observed bad infestations of the beetles in the, now removed old English Elm trees on Greenhill Road. I also found them abundantly in the English Elm trees of the South Parklands. What had once been grand trees were being dreadfully decimated by the desiccation of these insects. If a solution were not found quickly it was clear that the English Elm trees would become part of our historical memories.

When visiting the Adelaide Hills for The Adelaide Hills Bonsai Friends recent Christmas Meeting, I noticed the damage that the elm leaf beetle had caused to mature English Elm trees on one of our member’s property. Not only were the leaves desiccated and skeletonised, there were elm leaf beetles, elm leaf pupae, and elm leaf eggs underneath the leaves. The infestation was so extensive that the elm leaf beetles had moved onto the botanically related Zelcova bonsai in training. Some members discussed how the elm leaf beetle even attacks Chinese Elm bonsai.

Beetles and evidence of leaf desiccation

It is imperative that we break the cycle of this insect. It will not happen quickly and I doubt if we will ever rid our trees of these completely. You can try using sticky traps attached around the trunks of your trees, to catch and then destroy the larvae as they move from over-wintering in the soil beneath the trees (they have fallen there with the autumn leaf drop).

As the insect has wings and can move from plant to plant easily, it is highly unlikely that the process of using sticky traps will be successful.

Beetle eggs and pupae

Many councils and property owners have resorted to using systemic drenching or injecting. This treatment must be completed by a licensed arborist.

With bonsai, being much smaller than regular mature trees, our potential to have some control is maximised. Advice from The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries is to apply chemical and non-chemical controls. Chemical controls include the use of Carbaryl, non-chemical controls include banding with sticky traps (glue facing outwards). Biological strategies are still being researched but include the use of a parasitic wasp, a fly, and a bacterium spray.

Refer to the following for further information refer to the fact sheet from the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries

Sticky traps
Elm leaf beetle damage

Interestingly, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries suggests that strong and healthy plants that are not put under initial stress are more likely to be resistant to attacks from elm leaf beetle. The brings us to ensuring that we apply sound horticultural practices with growing our bonsai – the old tale of bonsai being ‘mistreated and neglected trees’ is a misconception … we must grow our bonsai strong!

Olive Leaf Lace Bug

Andrew Ward


Malcolm Campbell recently referred to damage caused to olive plants from olive leaf lace bugs. I had thought that my olive bonsai had some scale damage, but after reading Malcolm’s tips in our local paper I knew the perpetrator of my problem.

Reflecting back to some former damage to my olive bonsai, I now believe that it was olive leaf lace bug that has been a problem for some time. Many of my olives are treated with Initiator Tablets (active ingredient is Imidicloprid which is the same ingredient that is in Confidor). I had run out of Initiator Tablets and had been too lazy to follow up and my tree is now suffering the consequences. I now have a heap more work to complete to try and fix the problem.  My olives are purely ornamental – for bonsai and not for the production olive fruit which would require alternative treatments and withholding periods. You are best advised to seek alternative methods for this (WA Department of Agriculture has advice)

Adult olive leaf lace bug

It seems that the olive leaf lace bug, Froggattia olivinia, is a native insect from eastern Australia. According to the Western Australia Department of Agriculture, it is a sap-sucking bug (Hemiptera) and can reduce production. Left unchecked, the insect can kill young trees.

Olive lace bug adults are mottled dark brown and cream, with black-tipped antennae.

Leaf damaged by lace bug
Eggs are inserted into leaf tissue on the underside of leaves often near the main vein

In its life cycle the bug grows through several nymph stages (instars). These are oval-shaped and wingless at first, with wing buds progressively developing from the third instar onwards.

Early instars vary from light creamy or greenish-yellow to pinkish-orange. They have no spines and may be mistaken for scale crawlers. Later they turn  green to greyish-black and are spiny in appearance.


Although most olive lace bug activity occurs on the underside of the leaf, the most common indications of an infestation of olive lace bug are on the upper leaf surface where leaves become stippled with greenish to rusty yellow dots. The yellowing is associated with blackness and dirty smears of excrement on the underside of leaves.


Severe infestations can cause leaves to dry out and drop, thereby reducing the vigour of the trees.

Seasonal activity

In eastern Australia the olive lace bug normally lays overwintering eggs into leaves during May to June, and it is only during spring (September to October) that these eggs hatch.

At least two but sometimes three generations can be completed before the final generation adults lay overwintering eggs to complete the annual cycle.

In Western Australia while some eggs may hatch during the winter months, most eggs overwinter and hatch in spring. Some adults may also survive the winter. Look in spring and throughout summer for signs of nymph and adult insect activity, especially the effects on leaf colouring from insect feeding, as described above.

Management and control options

Olive lace bugs are relatively immobile insects. If infestation is detected early, judicious pruning and destruction of infested canopy may control it.

Insecticides are registered for control of olive lace bug as Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) minor use permits. Details of these are available on the websites of both APVMA and InfoPest. Note that the potassium soap (Natrasoap) spray has questionable efficiency against the more mature stages of the bug.

Insecticides are not very effective against the eggs and work best against active populations, normally in October and November. Therefore for heavy populations two applications about two weeks apart should be made. Follow and observe the directions and requirements on the permits. Fenthion should not be sprayed more than three times per season.

Thorough coverage, especially directed to the undersurface of leaves, is essential for good control. The withholding periods must be observed, especially if sprayed on fruit bearing trees (probably not a consideration with bonsai specimens) to be harvested that season. Water-stressed trees appear to be more susceptible to .

Successful control of olive lace bug will be evident in the following spring when the new flush of growth commences. This foliage will not have the yellow mottling associated with insect feeding if control was achieved the previous season but older discoloured leaves will be present.

Potential natural predators, for example, lacewing larvae and spiders, are to be encouraged but are unlikely to control heavy infestations.

Green Harvest makes the following reference regarding control of the olive leaf lace bug.

Biological Controls

Lace bugs are reported to have an egg parasite but this is unlikely to be present in many conventional olive groves, particularly if the ground is bare. Egg parasites are usually nectar feeders as adults and are more likely to be established in groves with flowering groundcovers. The Green Lacewing (available from Bugs For Bugs) is an insect predator native to Australia; it has been used successfully by olive growers to control the Olive Lace Bug.

Physical and Cultural Controls

It is believed that the healthier the orchard, the lower the incidence of lace bugs and other insects. Old or neglected trees that are drought or nutrient stressed are more prone to attack. To reduce the problems over time make sure that the trees are kept in good health.

Lace bugs are not difficult to kill but it is difficult to get good spray coverage throughout a dense canopy.

Maintain good airflow and the all-important access for insect predators such as birds. Pruning will help rejuvenate badly damaged trees by encouraging new shoot development.

Least Toxic Chemical Controls

The olive lace bug is difficult to control as it feeds and breeds underneath the leaf, it also multiplies fast. No chemicals appear to be currently registered specifically for this pest, although pyrethrum and insecticidal soap sprays are used overseas on other lace bug species. If a contact spray such as pyrethrum is used, it should be sprayed in the late afternoon to minimise damage to bees and beneficial insects.

It is important to apply insecticide soon after lace bug activity is first noticed, as populations can build up rapidly if left unchecked. Usually 2 sprays are needed, as the first spray will not kill the eggs, spray again in 10 – 14 days. Once the initial infestation is under control, regular monitoring is required every fortnight throughout the growing season. New infestations or ‘hot spots’ can occur regularly throughout the growing season, usually along the edge of the olive grove and close to the previous infestation.

Use of insecticides needs to be considered as a short-term response as nearly all types of insecticide will suppress the populations of beneficial insects and lead to increased pest problems.

The lesson I have learnt is not to take short cuts … to keep plants ‘vaccinated’ by having healthy potting medium that encourages strong growth (not soft and sappy growth), incorporate organic fertilisers into our fertiliser regimes so as to feed our potting mediums, and to provide plenty of air flow. We need to act vigilantly at the first sign of any damage – better still is to do all we can so that the damage doesn’t occur in the first instance.

The art of summer watering

Andrew Ward
I leave for work in the cooler part of the day knowing it is going to be a ‘hot one’ … I’m worried about keeping my bonsai protected during the heat, what can I do to look after my bonsai while I am away for the day?

Trees have optimum growing temperatures according to species which vary from around 20°C to 30°C (70-85°F). Hotter temperatures can start to injure or even kill living tree systems. An upper temperature limit of around 45°C exists above which thermal death can occur in a tree. The exact upper limit is dependent on factors such as the duration of hot temperatures, the highest temperature reached, tissue age, water content of the tree tissue and the ability of the tree to adjust to the temperature change. (Sourced from bonsai4me)

Summer heat is something that we just adapt to in South Australia. It is expected that we will have an extended period of hot and balmy weather, days on end when the temperatures are in the high 30s and low to mid 40s.

There are a number of preventative measures you can take to help protect your bonsai against the high temperatures and heat of the next couple of months.

Place your bonsai in a shaded position out of direct sunlight. Use shade cloth to provide shade from the extreme UV, the radiant and reflected heat on your bonsai.

Ensure there is ‘insulation’ between your bonsai and any staging, stands, surfaces on which your bonsai are placed. I have small wooden ‘pallets’ that provide air circulation around the bonsai and keep the bonsai off the tiles on which they are placed. Another strategy could be to use pieces of polystyrene sheeting between your bonsai and their stands not necessarily attractive, but effective all the same!

Consider providing extra shade for your bonsai pots from the sun by clustering your bonsai together onto larger pallets and adding a ‘skirt’ of hessian around the pots so as to keep the direct heat of the sun off the pots. The hessian will also absorb water and act a bit like a Coolgardie Safe when it is wet.

Reduce transpiration by increasing humidity around your plants. This may involve placing your bonsai on trays of wet sand/zeolite/gravel. Mini bonsai may benefit from having their pots ‘buried’ in damp sand in a tray, which is kept in a shady position during excessive periods of heat. Mist your plants before you head off to work in the morning, and again when you get home and throughout the evening. Not only will your plants cool down with the misting, so too can you!

Include water in your garden. Taxodium and Peppercorns in particular benefit from being kept in large water bowls with flowing water. Solar powered pumps are available, as too are various water pumps that are now very affordable and available from Hardware Stores. Have bowls with water plants in them, and of course stocked with fish so as to prevent mosquito issues in your garden. Another strategy is to grow tall grasses and bamboos and have these placed between your bonsai – they are effectively providing walls of moisture, and can provide additional dappled shade to your bonsai. Bamboos like to be kept damp, especially in the first few months of being repotted. You would be advised to keep your bamboos restricted to pot culture as the back-breaking work involved in digging renegade bamboo out of the garden is just not worth contemplating.

Have you considered a member of your family or a neighbour might be able to mist your plants a couple of times through the day? It is worth asking and returning the thank you to them with a special present. There is a lot less heartache involved.  Automatic watering systems are no longer ‘out of the plan’ for South Australian horticulturalists. Consider putting in a watering system, you must ensure that the power source is backed up with batteries … change the batteries regularly to ensure that the watering is not ‘hit and miss’. Also ensure that all plants are being sprayed evenly and that none of your bonsai are missing out on their essential watering.

Use kelp or seaweed based tonics to help increase the cell strength of your bonsai leaves. Use of tonics such as Seasol and Superthrive are useful … it is important to avoid using high/medium Nitrogen fertilisers during prolonged heat spells. Strong and healthy plants are more likely to survive heat waves than weakened plants, so ensure that you have a feeding program for your bonsai.

Also provide shade to the trunks and branches of your bonsai … should they become sunburnt and damaged, the strength of your tree will be compromised and the chances of disease are greatly increased.

Reprinted from SA Bonsai Newsletter Feb 2012

Bonsai Globe Trotters

For those among us who love to travel and in the process link up with other bonsai enthusiasts, check this 2017/18 calendar of global bonsai events



Garden Clubs of Australia Magazine and 2017 Convention

Andrew Ward

The SA Bonsai Society became a member of The Garden Clubs of Australia in 2015 – it brings us into the company of many other good gardening clubs throughout Australia. We subscribe to their quarterly magazine which is available from our library, alternatively you are able to subscribe yourself through The SA Bonsai Society and have it delivered to you at a cost of $20 per year, or $50 for 3 years. You are able to subscribe directly through completing the form and posting this direct to Garden Clubs of Australia. Although there is not a space to identify as a SA Bonsai Society Member, please add this information so that Garden Clubs of Australia are aware that our members are supporting them.

The Garden Clubs of Australia have their National Convention coming up in November 2017. Check this link for details – ULLADULLA. The Convention is an entirely different format from The AABC Annual Conventions as it looks to be a much slower paced event over more days, and is therefore value for money. Many convention activities give participants access to gardens or to speakers that they would not able to reach independently. Further details of the convention are also found at The Garden Clubs of Australia 

 2017 Festival of Flowers

22 – 23 April 2017

Planning is already underway for the 2017 Festival of Flowers at St Pauls School Gym (corner of Grand Junction and Blacks Roads at Gilles Plains).

A combined show with many difficult to come by plants being available through the members of a range of horticultural clubs and societies, it is worth putting this date into your diary.

Once again, The SA Bonsai Society will be part of the event, joining with members of societies for orchids, African violets, ferns, carnivorous plants, cacti and succulents, cottage gardens, fuchsias, bromeliads, begonias and geraniums.

We will need members to volunteer throughout the weekend, including set-up in Friday 21 April in the afternoon (times to be advised) and bump-out from 4.00pm onwards on Sunday afternoon.

Although this event is used predominantly as a means for The SA Bonsai Society to market our annual show, it is also an opportunity for members (who are able to display and volunteer over the weekend) to sell predominantly low priced bonsai starter plants and other items). As an encouragement for members to participate and sell at this event, your fee will only be 10%.

Please speak to Andrew, Philip, Bob, Annie or Malcolm Roberts for further information and to put your name down to help.

Contact Philip at

2017 Royal Adelaide Show

Andrew Ward

Good news … the 2017 Royal Adelaide Show, September 1 -10, will feature three stagings of bonsai, using the principles set in previous Royal Adelaide Shows. We can expect to have an interstate bonsai judge again for 2017.

Awards are again to be supported by $100 Champion Prizes, and a Grand Champion Prize of $100 and specially commissioned trophy with the John A Michell Memorial Award. There are of course cash and certificates awarded for first and second prizes in each class, and ribbons for first, second and third.

There is a fee associated with registering your entries. This fee is at a discount for online entries, with exhibitors registering over $50 of entries receiving an honorary membership for your entry to the showgrounds throughout the event.

If you have any questions regarding competition, please speak with me or contact me on 0417 849 420 or

Entries will ‘go live’ at in late February.

In the meantime , the following ‘DRAFT Schedule’ will help you plan your entries.

Our first meeting for 2017 will be on the 7th. of Feb.
At the Goodwood Community Centre 
Rosa St
Membership fees remain the same as of 2016;
Family $50
Individual $40
Student $20
The fees for 2017 are due at the March meeting.
The AGM will be held at the general meeting on the  of March
When the following positions are due for re-election

Club Phone: 0403 883 269
Postal Address:  PO Box 159, Goodwood, SA, 5034

Patron: Dorothy Koreshoff

Office Bearers:
President: Andrew Ward
Vice President: Matthew Sharp
Secretary: Philip Ekers
Treasurer: Bob Smith 
Treasurer-elect: Malcolm Jenkins
Assistant Treasurer: Heather Matthews
Editorial team: Annie Reid, Andrew Ward

Marie Petersen     
Howard Hamon   
Sue Hines
Janice Kain 
Brian Osborn
Luke Parsons     
Heidi Richter     
Janet Sabey
Rod Villers  
Hugo Welling