There are many varieties of Maple, the two that I own are;
ACER CAMPESTRE (field
These are very rewarding, although not easy to maintain. They like a bright warm position but not direct
sun or strong winds as these wither the rather fragile foliage.
Once you have found the right position for your own
Bonsai you will be rewarded with a tree which changes on an almost weekly basis! From early spring to autumn the leaves change
Last year I purchased a bag of Acadama from my local garden centre and repotted my Maples into it. The results are good.
Both trees did well and when repotting this spring I found that the roots had actually filled the pots and looked really healthy.
Acadama has the advantage that because it is clay based it easy to tell when it is drying out as it becomes lighter in colour,
it also does not harden when dry and absorbs water like a sponge. I have tried one of my Elms in it this year as a trial.
See three Maples on the Gallery page
All Birch, and there are many varieties, are tough and easy to maintain. Providing they are watered and fed regularly
Birch will thrive anywhere. I own a Silver Birch which actually started life growing on the roof of the Rolls-Royce and Bentley
Motors factory where I used to work! It was being removed by the Maintenance Department and I asked if I could have it.
It was ten inches tall but the roots were only three inches long.This is what the Japanese call "Yamadori", a true Bonsai
which is a tree which has grown stunted because of the lack of space or nutrients in it's environment.
The only thing
to be careful of with the Birch is when you prune it a wound sealant must be used on the cuts because the tree will bleed.
See a Birch on the gallery page
GINGKO BILOBA (MAIDENHAIR FERN)
I was given a Gingko to look after by a friend who has emigrated to Australia. This is actually a conifer but it
loses its leaves in winter.
Gingko are very slow gowing and do not wire or prune well so this is definately not a Bonsai for the novice. My best
advice is to trim the leaves back to one pair per shoot in the Spring and Autumn and protect the roots from frost, they
I have included a photo on the Gallery page so that Michelle can see how her Bonsai is looking.
Hornbeam are very tough and easy to maintain ( they are similar to Beech ) The basic rules apply. Repot in early spring
and prune the roots and branches. Branch pruning is important as young shoots extend quickly and leaves tend to grow towards
the tip making the foliage seem sparse.Spring colour is not dramatic but in Autumn Hornbeams make up for this with a stunning
red display. Feed every two weeks in summer and do not overwater. I have had no problems with pests on my Hornbeam.
LIGUSTRUM (Chinese Privet)
I have had mixed fortunes with this species. At my previous home (only two miles away) my Ligustrum thrived outdoors
for several years but at my current house I have had to bring it indoors.
This species likes a warm but not hot aspect,
plenty of water and feeding once a fortnight in summer. It grows in spurts in early spring and late summer and once initial
styling is done only requires occaisional leaf trimming to keep it looking good.
As an outdoor Bonsai my Ligustrum grew
quite quickly but since it has come indoors it has slowed down considerably. Indoors I keep it on a warm windowsill where
it is in sunlight until early afternoon.
MALUS (crab apple)
I bought my Malus as a "beginner" bonsai from a local garden centre. It was nothing more than a twig about four inches
tall. Three years on it is six inches tall and developing well. The main branch structure is complete and the leaves are reduced
and in proportion. Many varieties produce blossom after four to five years so I hope mine will blossom next year.
The Malus is very thirsty so daily watering and mist spraying is essential. Re-pot and branch prune every spring and
position in good light but not direct summer sun. The main burst of growth is in early spring so I allow mine free rein and
then prune lightly in May.
ENGLISH OAK ( QUERCUS ROBUR )
A recent addition to my collection which is proving very interesting. Oaks can easily be grown from acorns collected
in early autumn. These should be stored in a small container of damp sand in a refridgerator until March when they should
be planted out in the garden.
By midsummer the young oak saplings should appear. Leave them in the ground for at least two years to allow the trunks
to thicken before root pruning and potting them.
As oak bonsai develop they need plenty of sunlight and air circulation, do not keep them in a damp area or close to a
warm wall as mildew will develop. I find that I need to spray with fungicide every month to keep this at bay. This considered
my trees are doing quite well .
Patience is needed with Oaks, do not expect to have a decent Bonsai for at least five years.In 2006 I purchased a ten
year old oak from Harry Tomlinsons specialist nursery for £50.00. This proved to be a good investment as the Bonsai is
spectacular. I have just repotted it into a basic soil mix.
PINUS PARVIFLORA( JAPANESE WHITE PINE)
This species, sometimes called the five needled Pine, is readily available
from Bonsai specialists or good garden centres. They are easy to maintain and will grow in any position. Feed once a month,
root and branch prune in early spring and reduce the new growth, called candles, at the same time.
the White Pine you should notice a white mould ( micorizza ) growing in the soil as shown in the picture below. This is beneficial
to the tree and should be mixed in with the new soil. No other special care is needed to maintain a superb Bonsai.
My own White Pine loses a lot of needles in late autumn but looks all the better for this. This species is possibly the
most rewarding because it looks good at any time of the year.
SERISSA FOETIDA ( TREE OF A THOUSAND STARS )
Although the Serissa is an indoor Bonsai I include it here because it
is often given as a gift and with the correct care and a suitable position can be very rewarding.
Serissa likes a
well lit windowsill not in direct afternoon sunlight. The temperature must remain constant with no sudden changes or the tree
will begin to shed it's leaves.
Re-pot it once every two years as a general rule but if after inspecting the roots you
think that the tree is not potbound just try replacing some of the soil instead.
Always keep the Serissa moist and
mist spray it daily, except when it is in flower. Feed every two weeks throughout the growing season.
My own Serissa's
seem to go into a state of shock after re-potting and drop a considerable number of leaves. If this happens don't panic. Keep
the tree moist and it will begin to recover after a few weeks.
If all goes well the Serissa will reward you with
a good show of the tiny white flowers which give the tree it's common name.
ULMUS PARVIFLORA ( CHINESE ELM )
An excellent first Bonsai, the Chinese Elm will happily grow indoors or out.
It's small leaves and rugged bark soon give the appearance of an aged tree.
It prefers a slightly shaded position
but can stand wind and heavy rainfall. A wound sealant is not normally required when pruning. My Chinese Elms do however seem
to be prone to Scale Insect attack so I check them regularly and brush them off with a toothbrush dipped in insecticide. I
prefer to do this instead of constantly spraying the whole tree.
This species has roots suitable for growing over rocks.
When repotting wrap the roots around your chosen rock and cover them with cling film. Next year you should find that the roots
have bonded to the rock. Now the tree can be planted exposing the rock for a very dramatic effect.
See a Sakei style elm on the Gallery page