Welcome to my blog. I started this blog to share with the public the joy of my creations. I hope more people will join me on this journey. Bonsai is a very peaceful and rewarding passtime, hobby, craft or art. Make your choice. You can contact me at newzealandteatreebonsai@gmail.com.
Enjoy and Cheers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SnippetFact Award

On 8/11/12, I got an email from SnippetFact.com signed by John that they have decided to award this blog a SnippetFact Award. I have not heard of this award, so I decided to Goggle search to ensure that it is a valid award of good standing. I have now come to the conclusion that this award is good. So I am happy to announce to my readers. You can see the award here.
facts about bonsai

Monday, November 5, 2012

Yet another update on air layer Japanese Maple

I was intrigued as to why two air layers done exactly the same way at the same time and at about the same place on the tree, did not root at the same time. So today I have a closer look at the two air layers. Guess what ? Surprise surprise. There is indeed one root on the other air layer. Somehow I missed it. The length of the roots are about the same on both air layers. So looks like they rooted at about the same time. Here is the photo:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Got result on my Japanese Maple air layering

On Sept 26th 2012, I air layered this Japanese Maple. Today, 38 days later, I spotted roots. Now is to wait for the roots to fill up. CJ

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Update on Irish Strawberry

I  blogged on this Irish Strawberry here. My friend must have taken very good care of it for it to win the Achievement Award and People Choice Award at the Sydney Bonsai Society Show in August. She was thrilled. I am happy that this tree which I developed over 10 years is now care for by a expert pair of hands. A few days ago I asked her for an update of the tree as I wanted to blog on it. I received the photo yesterday. When she carried the tree over to Sydney last year, a few branches broke. So she did some adjustment to the design, I noticed she has also changed the pot. I like it. CJ

Friday, September 28, 2012

Air Layering Japanese Maple

The first time I air layer a Japanese Maple was about 6 - 7 years ago. I vaguely remember that it took less than 2 months to strike roots. Other than that air layer, I have not done anything to this maple which I bought from an ordinary nursery in 1999. I am kind of disappointed with myself. Two days ago, the beautiful foliages of the Japanese Maple at this time of the year inspired me to have a close look at it.  Finally paying some attention to my neglected Maple. My idea is to make use of the trunk and develop all the branches. There are also potentials to get a cascade and a shohin maple bonsai from the top part through air layering. Below are pictures of the air layering process. CJ

The neglected Japanese Maple

Potential for cascade and shohin.

First, I cut off a width of bark about the diameter of the trunk at the point of cut. I then completely scrapped off the shinny layer of cambium. For vigorous and difficult to root specie, this is critical. Any remaining trace of cambium will complicate the rooting process.

Then I mixed my rooting powder into a thick paste:

Applied rooting paste to the upper cut:

Finally wrapped spagnum moss, soaked in seaweed extract solution, around the cut. I tied the lower part tightly to minimise water sippage. The top is tied loosely to allow water from rain and watering to wet the spagnum moss. It is critical that the spagnum moss is moist all the time. Now is to wait for result.

Meanwhile I got results from air layers I took in April and May. A large bottle brush. More than 10 cm dia.



JBP. The cut is different. The upper cut is in Vs and inverted Vs. The Vs bark are raised and supported with tiny pebbles.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

First Styling on an Air Layered Japanese Maple

I air layered this Japanese Maple about 6 -7 years ago. Since then I have not done anything to it. I am kind of disappointed with myself. Part of the reason could be the not so nice appearance of Maple during our hot summer - burnt leave. This is the result of our extremely dry weather. The only way to overcome this is to put it into a greenhouse with artificially high humidity. However, in Spring the Japanese Maple looks fantastic. Yesterday I was inspired to spend sometime working on my neglected Japanese Maple. This is the tree before work.

The tree after work. It is obvious that twin trunk is the way forward. This is the first styling and it will probably takes many more re-styling as well as many more years to grow this tree into a decent bonsai.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Leptospermum Polygalifolium

This Letpspermum Polygalifolium also known as Leptospermum Flavescens, was one of two trees I work on yesterday afternoon. I have been growing it from an ordinary nursery stock for over 12 years. However I only pay close attention to it over the last 3 years. It is coming along nicely and should be show ready in 3 - 5 years time. The top part is completed and only needs maintenance. It is the first two branches which I am trying to grow thicker. Hence I am giving them the freedom to grow wild. This is the fastest way to thicken up. This variety of tea tree has white flowers and bloom in early Spring. I also found it to be the most hardy of all the types of tea tree in my garden. So if u r game enough to grow  "the ultimate forbidden bonsai", then this is one specie which will increase your chance of success. I remembered many years ago one of my neighbour told me the story of the Leptospermum Flavescens Pacific Beauty growing in his garden. He said that it was planted when he moved into the house about 25 years ago. He came from England with his family. On a stormy day, the tree was blown 25 metres away from its' location. He picked it up and replanted it. It survived and grown into a nice tree. I took a large air-layer from this tree. It is growing very well. This will be a subject for another day. CJ.

The tree before work:

The tree after trimming and branch adjustments. I am thinking of moving the front more towards the right. I also used some old discarded branches for positioning purposes.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Preparing a Callistemon for show

The BSWA annual show is in Oct 20th n 21st 2012. This Callistemon is growing very well and blooming. So I decided to prepare it for our annual show. When a bonsai is blooming, it is telling the carer that it wants to be shown to the public. That is my interpretation. This Little John was air-layered from a larger tree in 2006. Some efforts are necessary to bring a bonsai up to show standard. Besides patiently growing and training a bonsai into a beautiful tree fit for exhibition, there are certain refinements which needed to be attended to before a bonsai goes on show. The tree needs to be tidied up. Dead leave and branches removed. Old wires removed. Adjustment to the soil level. Placement of moss. Cleaning and oiling of the pot. So the next time u visit a bonsai exhibition, do remember that for every tree on show, the owner has spent lots of time and effort into preparing it. CJ.
Tree before final preparation:

Tree after removal of old wire, soil adjustment and placement of moss.

Tree after adjustment to branches. Hopefully the flowers will last long enough for the show.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Kunzea Capitata Bonsai

Kunzea is a specie endemic to Australia. Of the 36 varieties of Kunzea only one, Kunzea Ericoides, occurs ourside Australia, in New Zealand. I have not seen nor heard of anyone having a bonsai of this specie outside my garden. I have a few, this is the best. It was trained from an ordinary nursery stock since 2001. It blooms in winter/spring with masses of fluffy pink flowers. However, due to the constant prunning to keep it in shape, it is difficult to get it to bloom as a bonsai. The only way is to allow the branches to grow if one wants to see the flowers. I am letting the lower branch to grow, not for the flowers but to help it thicken up. The moment it is of the right size, I will cut it back. The style is copied from a Japanese master piece which won the top Kokufu prize many years back. It depicts an elderly person struggling on with life. CJ.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My smallest NZ Tea Tree Bonsai Is Blooming

Well, my smallest NZ Tea Tree bonsai is still alive and blooming. 2 inches tall in a self made pot. Created in 2007. I hope to keep it alive for as long as possible. Not an easy task ! CJ.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Developing Two Trees In One

I have about 17 varieties of Tea Trees in my garden. So a fair bit of cross pollinations take place. This tea tree grow by itself about 4 - 5 years ago. The foliages and flowers are different from any tea trees I have in my garden. So I presume it must have been a result of cross pollinations. Who are the parents, I am not sure. I have yet to see something similar in any of the nurseries I visited. Anyway today I worked on it. My idea was to develop two bonsai out from this one tree in the next few years. One styled broadly in the shape of a deciduous tree and the other taller and more in the outline of a conifer. My plan is to grow the tree until the trunk is 3 - 4  times the current size. Then I will then airlayer the upper "conifer" part. Today I cleaned up the unnecessay branches and twigs and roughly wired the two trees into position. CJ.

The tree before work:

The tree after work:

The "deciduous" part:

The "conifer" part:

My visions in 10 years time:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Bonsai Tools - Part 2

As my bonsai collection grows and my bonsai skill and artistry deepen, I naturally progress into carving. There are manual and power carving tools. The thing I like about manual carving is they don't stir up the dusts and dirts which power carving generated. Of course they are also much slower. So if u have a big carving job, it helps to invest in a power carver. Here are some of my carving tools:

My manaul carvers. From left to right. 3 Swiss concave wood carvers, 1 Chinese concave wood carvers, 1 Japanese wood carver, set of small carvers. Japanese carver.

These are my power carving tools. These tools are very powerful and dangerous at the same time. So be careful and take the necessary precautions. Wear safety gears. Be alert. Don't overstretch. Don't rush. Keep work area tidy and clear of unncessary items. Prevent accidental start. Ensure bits are tightened. Don't force.  Switch off the equipment when you are not using it.

From left to right. A USA made Lancelot carver on a Makita angle grinder. This is extremely good in removing huge chunks of wood. I used this to help Bill Valvanis removed a huge chunk of wood from a large Juniper he was working on, while he was in Perth last year. The teeth is very much like those of a chain saw. So sharpening it, is similar to sharpening a chain saw. Next is an Arbortech Mini carver with a tungsen carbid cutting wheel. Good for the smaller jobs. Next is a Makita Die Grinder. The bits I bought from Kaisen on the Internet are the best. Sharp and really stainless. The ones I bought from another dealer in Europ are sharp but somehow the bits get tainted like the bits I bought from Taiwan. The Taiwanese bits are half the price and do the job as well as the more expensive ones. So if u are in Taiwan, pick up some of these Taiwanese carving bits.Next is a Dremer for the smaller jobs. The bits are from Europe, Japan and Australia. The original Dremer bits are not so good.

Sharpening of Scissor.

The scissor has two blades. The inside contact surfaces of the blades are flat and the other side at an angle. I used to sharpen on a wet stone but find this a little cumbersome. I found the diamond coated file sold at kitchenwhare shop to be easier to use. I go thru the angle side 20 - 30 times follow by 3 - 5 times on the flat side. A close contact between the two cutting edges is essential to have a good cut. 3 - 5 strokes in one direction should be sufficient to remove the burrs, without wearing off too much of the contact surface. Try to maintain the original angle of the cutting edge. The secret to sharpening is to get the cutting edge sharp with minimal lost of material. In this way the scissor is not only sharp but last for a long time.

Sharpening of branch cutter.

The branch cutter has two blades. One will overlap the other. I sharpen by going over the outside surface of the blade what overlap the other, 20 - 30 times with a diamond coated flat file. I then go thru the inside contact surface 3 - 5 times to remove the burrs. For the other blade I will go thru the non-contact surface 20 -30 times and 3 - 5 times on the contact surface. Maintain the original cutting angle.

Sharpening of concave and knob cutter.

These are more difficult to sharpen. I used a small piece of fine sand paper to go over the blade in the same sequence as that of branch cutter. The secret here is to maintain even pressure while going over the surface of the blade. Follow the original contours and angle of the cutting edge.

I tried to clean and maintain my tools immediately after use. If need be I will oil the joins and moving parts. In this way not only will my tools last for a long time but the job will be easier and the feeling good.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Bonsai Tools - Part 1.

Over the last few days when it was cold and raining I stayed indoor to clean and sharpen my bonsai tools.
When I first started bonsai in 1978, I had a general gardening scissor, a snap cutter, a small saw and a plier. These were my bonsai tools. Total cost not more than $10. Today you can still get these tools for under $10. Recently I picked up a snap cutter for $1. The quality is not that good but it works. A plier is about $2. A general gardening scissor and a small saw for a few $ each. So basic bonsai tools are not expensive. I believe many ordinary people in Asia are still doing their bonsai with these basic tools. Where there is passion, good bonsai can be produced with simple basic tools. The passion is primary and the tools secondary.
These were my first bonsai tools:

Two years later, I bought a set of Japanese carbon steel tools for Sing$50, from a Japanese master by the name of Suzuki who set up shop in Singapore. Last I heard he was into landscaping which is a more lucrative business in Singapore, with so many hotels and expensive homes. I have been using this set of tools until 2004 when I went on a bonsai tour in Japan and so took the opportunity to pick up some good stainless steel Japanese bonsai tools. The $50 set consisted of a small branch cutter, a small concave cutter, a regular shear, a long handle shear, a trimming scissor, a wire cutter, a plier, a spring assisted trimming shear and a broom brush.  I have misplaced or lost the concave cutter, the regular shear and the trimming scissor. All the other tools are still in good working conditions. That $50 must have been the best $50 I ever spent in my life. Good values and fun over 20 years ! Of course proper care and maintenance are essentials to keep your tools in good condition so that they can last. So if you can afford it, get a decent set of bonsai tools. They not only improve the productivity and quality of your bonsai works but also spur you on. It feels good to be working with professional tools.
What remains of my first set of bonsai tools:

Today I have more tools than I needed. I have three sets of stainless steel tools, including a set of still unuse Masakumi.
Here are part of my current set of bonsai tools:

Should u want to equip yourself with a set of bonsai tools my suggestion is to get
1. A concave cutter - this should handle the branches and all the unwanted bulges on the tree.
2. A pruning shear - to handle the twigs and leave.
3. A trimming shear - for finner foliage works.
4. A plier - for bending wires.
5. A wire cutter.
6. A saw for the larger cuts.
7. A brush for tidying up.
8. A twizzer for weeding.

Of course as your passion grows and your bonsai works get more specialised and complicated then you may have to look into getting tools like:

Branch bender:

Trunk splitter:

Root cutter:

My recommendation is to buy good quality tools. Where it is made and the price is no indication of quality and reliability. The best is to rely on recommendations from friends who have used these tools before. I bought the following tools blindly and paid for my mistakes. The first was a small Japanese cutter. After a year the spring snapped. The second is a Chinese made stainless steel knob cutter. After 6 months, the cutting edges misaligned. The third is most disappointing. It is an expensive pair of Japanese stainless steel scissor which was supposedly to be made of a new and better material. The cutting edges wore off faster than normal and it rusted. The last is a small "Made in Japan" cutter, bought from an American dealer on the Internet. Less that 6 months, the cutting edges misaligned. I really wonder whether it is Made in Japan as carved onto the tool.

In Part 2 I will cover my carving tools and maintenance and sharpening of tools. CJ

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A visit to Takasago-an.

The highpoint of last year's 11th Aspac Exhibition and Convention in Takamatsu was a visit to Takasago-an on the last day, to conclude a massively successful event. I am sure most of the about 1,000 participants from all over the world, like me, went home happy and satisfied. Takasago-an is the World renowned bonsai garden cum residence of the late and well-like Daizo-Iwasaki. Besides the numbers of award winning bonsai and master pieces, there are about 500 top class bonsai. I found a new meaning to addiction to bonsai. Here are some photos to share the beauty of this massive and impressive collections. CJ.