Bonsai Tip of the Day
If possible try to display your trees where they can be seen from a house window or garden seating area. A distant view of a tree often triggers new design ideas. When repotting a tree, if the roots have grown into a dense mat too tight to untangle, simply use a fine-toothed hacksaw to cut away the outer inch or so all the way around. The sunlight is relatively weak in northern Europe so don't starve your trees of what little there is by growing them in the shade! Just shelter them from the wind and water them well. It can be tempting to collect a wide variety of tree species, but you will produce better bonsai more quickly if you focus on the most easily-worked species. Spend some time finding inspiration for your tree designs from outside the world of Bonsai. For example, have a go at pretending your tree is a person and give them a personality or mood. Give yourself a fresh view of your trees by looking at them in 2D on a computer screen. Flaws are more obvious to see on a screen, giving you a chance to improve them before they're exhibited. Take all Bonsai advice with a pinch of salt until you see proof that it works long-term. When applying raffia, make sure all knots are outside the raffia. Knots under tight raffia, with wire applied later, can cause branch or trunk damage. If a tree is worth working on, it is also worth documenting. This allows year-to-year observation and comparison. It also allows the bonsai artist to see how the applied techniques are working, or not. Notebooks and digital images are best. Using a diamond drill put a small hole at the end of a crack in a pot. This will stop the crack from continuing to grow. Put some epoxy into the crack from the inside of the pot. Small staples can be epoxied across the crack, again on the inside of the pot. When using power tools for carving, or especially when using rotary brushes to finish wood, wear full goggles. Rotary brushes are notorious for individual brush bristles breaking off at speed. This can result in the bristle becoming a miniature arrow, which you certainly do not want embedded in your eye! The best place to start wiring is always at the bottom of tree, with the lower branches first. This allows more room for higher branches to be wired. The more trees you have the less time you have to put into any given tree. You should put time into ONLY the trees which have promise of being good bonsai. Give the rest away or add to the burn pile! To create deadwood with a mini blowtorch, make sure you cover all adjacent foliage with a damp rag, for protection. Some newer torches have a long hot flame tip which is barely visible, so by covering foliage you do not have to wonder where the flame tip is. If lime sulphur is used on wired deadwood it will oxidize copper wire. If wire is attached to deadwood that is to be whitened, the wire should first be removed and then the lime sulphur applied after. If the lime sulphur is applied over the deadwood and copper wire, the oxide from the wire will remain on the deadwood. This can be removed by using a find wire brush, then re-applying lime sulphur, then re-wiring. If applying lime sulphur to deadwood the branch is usually very dry. Apply a warm water spray to this deadwood to moisten it and open the wood fibres a bit before applying lime sulphur. In this way the lime sulphur will be absorbed into the deadwood quickly, versus running off down the tree! Make the angle of the drill shallow when thread-grafting so the threaded roots are near the surface, or else the roots which are threaded through the hole will be too deep.