This Swamp Paperbark / Melaleuca Rhaphiophylla won the BCI best bonsai award at the recent AABC Perth 2011 convention at Fremantle Esplanade Hotel. I immediately offered the tree to the Bonsai Society of WA for auction to help defray the cost of the convention. Before the convention I was told we may end up losing money. So this is my little gesture to help them. We managed to raise $1,900 which went into the convention fund. I last heard we may end up making a small profit.
This tree was dug from a development sit in Canning Vale in 2001. It was one of a number of trees I got from this dig organised by BSWA. The major part of the trunk movements were already there. My efforts involved the growing and training of the branches and the apex. So this tree is basically shaped by nature. I took it from nature and return it to society for the benefits of the community. That's the way I look at my gesture.
The Swap paperbark grow very fast and is greedy. So have to feed it frequently. I used Osmocote Plus for Natives supplemented with a liquid feed of seasol + miraclegro. Constant trimming is necessary to keep them in shape. As the wood is soft due to the fast growth, watch out for wood borer. Also sprinkle systematic insecticide on the soil to prevent the leave from mite attack which caused it to curl up. Remove water shoots immediately. Left uncheck they can grow rapidly and deprive nutrients from nearby branches leading to dieback. In the hot summer month of Perth, soak them in a shallow tray of water.
From my experiences, the Melaleuca Rhaphiophylla is one of the more tolerant of the paperbarks. I have successfully dug quite a number of them. They do tolerate bare rooting during spring.