The Danish Bonsai Society – and the local group mainly – did an exhibition over the past weekend. I visited and found some very nice displays. Autumn time is a great time to display especially Shohin that can express the seasons through different species. Also some good deciduous trees was shown. Trees ranged from shohin to large bonsai. But we seldom see the really huge trees around in Denmark.
I know many do remove the autumn leaves before they drop. I do not. For the obvious reason that the tree needs all the back flow of nutrients it can get before going into dormancy. It is a natural process, where the decaying leafs turns off their photosynthesis as days gets shorter and colder. Nutrients flow back and are stored for the following spring in stem, trunk and roots. There the stored nutrients will change their balance of frost protection for variations in temperatures during the cold period, and when spring arrives they will be activated and be the first gasoline for a fresh start of a new seasons growth.
Removing leafs before time, is therefore a little too hasty in the wish of getting trees nice and tidy for the winter, taking away the last feed for wintertime.
I clean of the withered leaves from the pot surfaces and benches when they are dropped, too avoid pests and fungus. But not before. Only trees that do not drop there leaves when they are entirely brown and dead, are cut off, for the same reasons. Beech for example keeps most of their leaves on during winter, but that is not necessary when overwintered as bonsai in a protected place, away from snow and cold sallow winds.
Always make an autumn clean up, to secure the health of the trees, but in time – not before time.
It´s summer time, and the Danish summer behaves as it sometimes does. It rains. It rains. And it rains.
Not much sun lately, but temperatures are alright. It might not be good for humans who wants to enjoy holidays by relaxing in the garden with the sun shining, enjoying the bonsai, eating diner outside – but is surely good weather for the plants. Days shifting between a little sun and then rain to nurse the foliage. Trees are clearly growing good, and benefits from this kind of weather. And there is a special mood in a garden after a night with summer rain that one can enjoy. Waiting for sun though. 😉
Heavy rain showers are announced, so I set up the daily display without using scroll or tables. Just protect these from the weather later. Sun is still shining, so it is about enjoying before we will be inside the house mostly the next days.
The Cotoneaster is among my all time favourites for shohin-bonsai. especially for Mame-bonsai (from 9,5 cm and down), because it is slightly draught tolerant, and can develop a fine root system for the extremely small pots used.
Cotoneaster × suecicus ‘Coral Beauty’ is one of the varieties among the Cotoneaster specimens that are particularly good for Shohin bonsai. It is a summer flowering specimen, and therefore it sets its flower buds during spring. If you want flowers, you should not prune after the dormant period in winter, when leaves have dropped.
Other (but fewer) varieties are evergreens, as it is the case with the Cotoneaster microphylla. As other types of Cotoneaster it has white flowers followed by red or orange fruits in autumn. C. microphylla is a spring flowering specimen, and therefore it is necessary to stop pruning before fall, when the flower buds for spring are produced. If pruned in autumn/fall, you risk pruning away the small flower buds that are prepared for spring.
Cotoneasters are very tolerant regarding soil types and watering. They also willingly produce a massive amount of new growth when pruned hard. As long as they are fed well and taken care of, this the tree every shohin grower should have in their collection, if the specimen is available in your location. They are found in nature from western China towards Northern Europe.
In midd-summer it is advisable to keep the pot and tree semi shaded during the hot part of the day, were the sun will heat up the soil and roots. In winter keep the tree from freezing in several days, and place it protected from winds (best choice is a greenhouse) because the leaves still will be evaporating trough the leaves, especially if exposed for the sun. Leaves and branches will dry out when the soil is frozen and cant take up water for evaporation.