Wiring

Nebari Bonsai

Some notes on wiring I prepared for a recent presentation.

Left to right: too small, too heavy, just right:

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With aluminum wire (use on deciduous trees and azaleas), use a wire that is 1/3-1/2 the diameter of the target branch.

Left to right: too tightly-coiled, too-loosely coiled, just right:

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When wiring a branch, 60-degree angle is the generally accepted, correct wiring spacing. Too tight, and the holding power is reduced, wire is wasted, and scarring is increased. Too loose, and the holding power is reduced, and branches tend to break with the diminished support provided by the wire. Just right, and the bend should hold. Added considerations to proper wiring include planing the wiring route so wire will be on the outside of bends, opposite side of buds, and always routed to pass consistently under or above secondary branches…more on that shortly.

Two techniques, and how to use them together:

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What not to do

Nebari Bonsai

Usually, we get to see and read about properly applied techniques. Recently I had an opportunity to work on a tree that exhibited some mistakes that can be made when employing commonly-used techniques. More importantly, here is the result after a few years to see why it’s important to avoid these mistakes.

1. Too-tightly wired. Wire should be applied in wider coils, around 60 degrees from parallel to the branch, and just a bit looser than this. Why?
-It allows sap to flow more easily
-It prevents girdling (see how the bark swelled up around the wires)
-It allows the wire to stay on the tree longer before it digs in
-It has stronger holding power than tightly-coiled wires

While it is a matter of personal preference, copper wire is stiffer than aluminum, so a thinner wire can be used and have the same holding power as thicker aluminum, and…

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Guy Wire Primer

Nebari Bonsai

Guy wires

Using guy wires added a new dimension to styling trees.  It’s one thing to read about it, but give it a try if the design calls for it.  When?  Why?

  1. Bend larger branches that would require wire larger than practical to use
  2. Move short, stocky branches
  3. Hold a broken (intentional or unintentional) branch in position
  4. Inconspicuously move a branch when preparing a tree for show
  5. Reposition a portion of the tree that won’t set before the wire becomes embedded
  6. Gradual bending over a course of weeks is a safer course of action

This Japanese Black Pine has been in training for the last 5 years.  The article chronicling it’s development is HERE.  These photos are from Fall ’09, Fall ’10, and Last winter, after wiring, a new front was chosen to address some of the problems that aren’t really visible from front-on shots, and to make use…

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Guy wires

Nebari Bonsai

Another look
Aquarium tubing:

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Fold it over:

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Cut one side of the kinks to make an escape for the two wire ends:

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Loop the wire (never use aluminum, it stretches):

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Secure the tubing over the target branch (represented by a chopstick here) and thread each end of the wire through the ends of the tube, and out through the escape hole:

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And finally, move the branch, and twist the wires with pliers to take up the slack.

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Preparing a pot

Nebari Bonsai

Preparing a pot to plant a bonsai requires a few steps.
1. Plastic canvas is cut, large enough to overlap each drainage hole.
2. Using a piece of wire (2-2.5 mm aluminum is good), make a “staple” that will secure the plastic canvas over the drain hole, punching the open ends through the plastic far-enough apart so they touch each side of the drain hole. This keeps them from sliding around:

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Place the screen in the bottom of the pot, and press the ends through the bottom of the pot:

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Flip the pot over, and spread the ends of the wire, so the wire has no slack, and the screen is immobilized:

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Add tie-in wires. All bonsai should be tied in to the pot:

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A pigtail adds the 5th tie-in:

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I start with the back left wire (1), and pull it forward to the front left wire (2), and twist…

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Thick with Thick-Knees

Hermanus Bird Club

A vacant plot in Eastcliff must have something going for it, at least as far as the world of Spotted Thick-Knees is concerned.  This morning, whilst out walking, I spotted no less than 12 of these birds sunning themselves in an area no bigger than 40m x 40m.  There may have been more – I only saw the ones that were standing and I did not get too close for fear of disturbing them.  I read that out of breeding season they form roosts of up to 70 birds, but this my first experience of this habit.               R Hazell.

Sp Thick_knee

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