March 20, 2010

Kitabi meetings

Ugh, I have not been very good at updating during the winter, have I. I always get a bit bonsai depressed during the dark months, with almost all trees in storage, and nothing to do with them. But, when the sun starts to shine for more and more hours, I also feel a stronger and stronger urge to start working on my trees. Which, this year, will still have to wait for some time. The spring is late, we are about two weeks after normal spring. Everything is buried under snow, the greenhouse is unreachable, and I think we will have to wait until Midsummer for all the snow to melt. Look at this picture, taken about some weeks ago:


The bonsai club Kitabi has already held two meetings. The first contained the ordinary annual year meeting stuff, you know the going though the accounts for last year, deciding members for the board and all that. After that we worked on a quite big Chinese elm. The second meeting was held today, and Teemu Oja showed two Zelkovas and what spring work they were in need of, and a "Jaqueline Hillier" elm. I and Kaj Simberg had also a couple of trees with us, I a Japanese maple 'Kiyohime' and a satsuki azalea, and Kaj a mountain pine. We had several new members on both meetings, and that was great! I hope we will see all of you at next meeting too! The next meeting will be held on April 17. For more information closer to the meeting, see Kitabi's home page.

November 17, 2009

Kitabis meeting 14.11.2009

The bonsai club Kitabi held it's November meeting at Teemu Oja's place. Teemu has recently moved, and it was great fun to see his new digs. On the program were junipers and Zelkovas. A couple of branches of a huge Chinese juniper Shinpaku were wired, and some pruning was made on a smaller Chinese juniper. Then we discussed how to start training a Zelkova into a broom styled tree (hokidachi), and looked at and discussed three different Zelkovas and how they had got the form they had. Coffee and good food was the dot over the i of an very interesting and inspiring afternoon. Thank you Teemu for a great meeting!

October 25, 2009

Maple leaves in autumn

A couple of pictures of maple leaves in autumn colours. Unfortunately the leaves are a bit frostbitten, but the colours do still show off pretty well.


A. palmatum 'Seigen'


A. palmatum 'Kiyohime'


An other Kiyohime


Unknown A. palmatum




After having discussed this tree with some Swedish bonsaists I think it is a A. palmatum ¨'Katsura'.

October 14, 2009

First frost

Result of needle plucking sessions: in spite of my good intentions I managed to pluck only eight out of my ten pines. I finished the eighth on Saturday, but there has been more than a zillion things to do, of which half is still undone, and I doubt I'll be able to finish the last two. The first really cold days are here, there are several minus degrees in the night and it barely rises to +1-2° in the daytime. Perhaps a bit unusually cold for the season, and there might be a month of warmer days after this cold spell, but still, two of the pines might be left until spring. That is what I usually have done, plucked the needles in the spring, but there is always so many other tasks on the agenda in the spring that having the trees finished in autumn would have been a relief. An additional bonus of plucking the needles in the autumn is that because you get a so much clearer picture of the trunk and branches of the tree, you have more to ponder over during the dark winter months, a good time for making plans for future wiring and perhaps other measures too.

October 06, 2009

Needle plucking time

Last week was quite a busy one, I made a short trip to Stockholm and on Saturday we held the first Kitabi meeting for the autumn. Stockholm is a nice city to visit, and even if there is nothing in bonsai way to watch in the city itself, there is a lot of things for the one interested in Japan to do. I had a quite busy scedule, but I managed to have lunch at two nice Japanese restaurants, one in Gamla Stan/Old Town, Restaurang Shogun (Tyska brinken 36, 111 27 Stockholm ), and the other at Restaurang Samuraj in Östermalm (Kommendörsgatan 40, 114 58 Stockholm). I also visited the food shop Japanska Torget (Tegnérsgatan 6, Stockholm), where I found some food stuff not available in Helsinki. I wanted to buy chawan mushi cups, but they were unfortunately out of stock, but a beautiful set of small plates found their way home to Finland. Östasiatiska museet had an exhibition with old kimonos (and also ghastly "modern" kimonos), which was very interesting.

Japanese maple 'Seigen' (growing new branches, and thus looking a bit undone) at Kitabis meeting

On Saturday held the Finnish bonsai association Kitabi the first meeting for this autumn. Unfortunately Teemu Oja, who had planed the program for the meeting, got a cold, and we had at Friday to come up with something new. The sunny afternoon was spend going through some members' trees. Warming coffee and superb apple pie was enjoyed before we parted for home. Thank you Asta for your hospitality!

Larch forest in autumn colours at Kitabi's meeting

And to the theme for this posting. Needle plucking season is here. Or so I think, but I have ponded a bit over when it actually should be done, and perhaps it's something that could be started even earlier, in late August - beginning of September? That way would the dormant buds benefit more from the plucking, perhaps. The main idea behind needle plucking is to balance the energy in the tree, by allowing more needles to be left on the weaker branches, and removing more needles on the stronger branches. But needle plucking should also strengthen buds that start to swell in the autumn. It's a time consuming task, since you have to be careful not to rip away both needles in the pair (I have only Scots pines and one mugo, with five needle pines you have to cut), which could damage the potential bud beginning to grow between the needles.


I have nine Scots pines and one mugo. I started needle plucking last week, and I have three trees finished. My goal is to be finished this week. The mugo is pretty strong, with only one branch slightly weaker than the rest, and one slightly stronger than the rest. I left 3 needle bundles on the strong, four on most and five on the weakest. On the Scots I have left four bundles on the strongest branches, and the weakest branches have been untouched. The differences between the strong and the week branches on the Scots are much more pronounced, and I think needle plucking is really making a big difference for them. On the mugo is needle plucking more a haircut, allowing light to reach the inner parts of the tree, and making wiring the tree easier.


And last, but not least, a picture of an old Scots pine I bought some years ago (needles unplucked, and you can clearly see the colour difference between this year's needles and last year's darker needles). It had been planted in a quite dense soil, but had survived being in a pot for about twenty years. Some of the branches were very long and lanky, lacking side branches. Still, cutting them off is not an option, not yet at least. After three summers in my care I'm happy to see how new buds are forming on very old wood on these branches. A couple of years more, and I think this tree will look very good. It will after a couple of years go into a slightly smaller pot, and needle reduction will be on the agenda from next year.

September 27, 2009

The azalea

Here are some pictures of the azalea that is supposed to be planted in the blueish pot next spring. I received the tree in 2005, one of about ten trees I bought from a former club member, who no longer had winter storage for his trees. It didn't, as you can see from the first picture, have many branches at that point. It had lost several important branches, and there are still ugly scars after those.

Autumn 2005

In 2006 I repotted the tree in kanuma, but didn't cut it back at all, I just tried to nurse it back to health. In 2007 it flowered with beautiful pink flowers and was after that cut back.

Summer 2007

The azalea was again repotted in 2008, in kanuma again. The pot from 2008 is utterly unsuitable, a terrible colour that would have fought against the colour of the flower in the most ugliest way, if the azalea had been allowed to flower. The pot in itself is not bad, it's a very good work by German bonsai pot artist Peter Krebs, the colour is lovely, and very well suited for an other tree. But at the time it was the only one in the right size I had available, so I decided to use it. It was cut back heavily in spring 2009, but has grown wild for the summer. It will be cut back again in 2010, and repotted. I hope to be able to cut the roots more in order to enable me to repot the tree deeper in the pot. I think flowers can be allowed in 2011. Right now it need everything to build new branches, not to produce flower buds.

Autumn 2009

September 23, 2009

Two new pots

Up for show today are two new pots I received last week. Both pots are made by Andy Pearson in the UK, also known as the Stone Monkey, and one of my absolute favourite pot makers. I have some of his beautifully crafted pot, both with trees in them, and some still waiting for the right tree. The glaze on some of them is so beautiful you would just like to touch it and never put a tree in the pot, but when you do it, the pot rises to new heights and you realize it is the only right thing to do, to plant a tree in it.

The first pot is an oval greyish glazed pot, the size is about 21 cm x 19,5 cm. The pot is 4,5 cm deep and the height from feet to rim is 6 cm.



The second one is for my azalea that will need a new pot in the spring. The tree is right now going trough a quite heavy redesign, it had some ugly scars where the former owner had lost/cut some branches, but the root base is good and it has beautiful pinkish flowers. I ordered this blue pot with the azalea in mind, and I think it will suit the tree perfectly. There is a little pink under the blue, you can see it in the second picture. The pot is round, the diameter 17,5 cm, it's 4,5 cm deep and the height from feet to rim is 5,5 cm.





As you can see, all Andy's pots have plenty of holes for anchoring the tree, and good drainage. Andy is also a very nice fellow to deal with, answering his emails fast, and you have the pots in the mail almost as fast as you type paypal on you computer (I think my pots have always been mailed the next day from payment). Thank you Andy for your good service and lovely pots!

September 20, 2009

Dwarf hostas

A couple of years ago I bought a dwarf hosta. It sat untouched for two years on my bench, until I this year divided it into two plants, and planted them into this small pots. The soil is sifted plant soil, nothing fancy, but it has worked very well in the small pots. The green oval pot is a Japanese pot, size 9 cm x 6 cm x 3 cm, and the blue rectangular of unknown orign. I bought it in the 80's in Germany, and if it ever had a marking with the maker or country, it's long time ago gone. The size of the blue one is 10 cm x 7 cm x 3 cm.

The hosta flowered with beautiful lilac flowers. These pictures are taken in August, and today there are still flowers on them!



September 19, 2009

A new start :)

After a longish pause I have decided to restart my bonsaiblog. I hope this will help me to document my work in a more consistent way and as a side effect I hope the blog will give inspiration to fellow Finnish bonsai enthusiasts. We are not that many up here in the north, and bonsai is not yet an advanced hobby for many. I'll put up some links in the sidebar to Finnish blogs I find worth a look at, and other places of interest for the Finnish enthusiast. The shops are the ones I have good experience of, those that have delivered their orders promptly, and with whom it has never been a problem to deal. I hope you too find their sites worth a visit. And I encourage you to take a look at the Finnish bonsai association Kitabis pages (so far only in Finnish). The members of Kitabi are gathering six to seven times a year in the Helsinki area, to talk over specific themes, and to work on different trees.

You might wonder about the language I have chosen for the blog. A Finnish bonsai blog written in English? The reason is simple, I think a lot more of my friends are able to read if I write in English. I have bonsai buddies who speak Finnish, Swedish, English and German. I find blogs written in several languages a bit hard to read, and, speaking out of experience, it takes a lot of time to write good blog texts in several languages. I myself is Swedish speaking, so Finnish wouldn't be my native tongue anyway.

When you read about my trees, take into consideration that I live in the south of Finland, zone 5 in Europe, and when looking at just Finland zone 1b. Here is a good climate zone map on Morten Albek's Shohin site. The climate in other parts of the country might require different time schedules (and those will vary from year to year too) and different measurements for for example winter shelters for the trees.

Then who am I? My name is Maud and I'm a mother of four teenagers and owner of two dogs. I take a deep interest in Japanese cooking, but Italian cooking is also close to my heart. A lot of my free time is dedicated to my dogs and work for their breed club, where I function as secretary. I'm lucky enough to live in a house with plenty of winter storage space suitable for trees in the cellar and a with Finnish city standards taken quite big garden. I have been interested in bonsai since the mid 80's when I came into contact with bonsai while living in Munich, Germany. I have been an active enthusiast since the beginning of this century, and I have visited several big bonsai shows in order to see and learn more than what is possible in this country. Right now I have between forty and fifty trees, most of them native Finnish trees, but also a lot of Japanese maples and other more sensitive trees.

Well, I hope you find interest in my site and will return again! Until then, bye!

January 28, 2007

Vinter - winter