Article 57 – ‘The wait is over’

This article is an update on a twin trunk Sorbus aucuparia rescued from an area of wasteland being prepared for development in early spring of 2015. The folklore and scientific information on the species can be found on this site Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan or Mountain ash) October 11, 2017′ but for those whom require a brief update please continue reading.

When the plant was collected its height was in excess of 2 metres and thus had to be reduced, as the fronded-like leaves are quite large it was decided that, the plant would be suitable for the ‘Omono Dai‘ class (the first category for large bonsai trees 100 centimetres or 40 inches. 70% of the root ball was removed and the foliage was reduced to maintain a balance between the nutrients to the leaves and roots respectively. The plant was placed in a wooden box in a standard soil mix with slow release fertiliser pellets and moved a semi shade area to recover.

In the spring of 2016 it was needed to reduce both trunk’s height due to the large amount of buds that had formed, (red broken circles) hence the cuts were made from the back of the tree at an angle to hide them, these were covered with petroleum jelly (vaseline) a) to allow for moisture run off and b) to prevent possible infection from pathogens. (The visible rubber coated block of wood was placed there to keep both trunks separated, this was later replaced with a specially designed expansion clamp the article for this subject is also found here; Expansion clamp design and construction – May 15, 2019)

S. aucuparia mid summer 2016

In spring 2017 the tree was replanted in a large modified plastic container and pruned to encourage foliage growth with the hope that leaf size reduction would occur as shown below.

S. aucuparia mid summer 2017

As the yellow arrows show there has been a slight reduction in leaf size however, the plant did not produce any flowers nor did it in 2018, 2019 and 2020, probably due to the constant hard pruning it has received, which has set it back somewhat.

S. aucuparia mid summer 2021

In May of this year there were cold spells with bouts of snow, hence growth has been retarded, this is the same plant in June of 2021 – leaf size has been significantly reduced and it has finally flowered top left.

S. aucuparia in bloom June 2021

As stated the growth rate has been retarded nevertheless, it is possible that flowers on this plant will be produced on the right of the two trunks, but we will have to wait until 2022 as it is too late for this season. It is now 2nd week of August and the fruit have turned orange, but we still have to be patient because they may turn red which is a useful factor in deciding on what colour of ceramic pot will do the tree justice.

S. aucuparia August 2021

Choosing the pot – In studying this twin trunk (Sokan) we see that the design is arguably reminiscent of a dancing couple (male on the left – female on the right) in graceful movement. The bark is grey, foliage is light green flowers are white and berries at this juncture are orange, this suggests that the whole combination has a light tone to the overall composition; therefore, in keeping with this theme the intended pot should reflect these factors.

According to the bonsai guide lines the tree is the picture and the pot is the frame, strong dark colours would be overpowering disrupting the overall composition of tree and pot as would an unglazed pot. Hence the decision was to go for glazed neutral white. As to the pot shape we looked at round bowls and ovals but, these taking into consideration the height of the tree would not look correct therefore, the last option was a rectangular pot.

In addition, pot depth was/is another important factor to consider, bonsai pots are classed as masculine, feminine and neutral; this twin trunk is considered to be neutral. A large deep pot although ideal for ‘root-run’ would be overbearing for this S. aucuparia, the decision was/is to opt for a shallow depth rectangular pot that would be in harmony with the tree creating a balanced composition.

Dimensions 40x28x7,5 cm

Obviously the tree has to undergo more training, pruning and wiring which, takes time. A living organism such as this plant has many changes in its yearly cycle of growth, changes that cannot be disrupted we can only go with the flow as said before patience is a virtue. Nonetheless, we believe it has bonsai potential, but time will tell. Until next time BW, Nik.

Article 56 – ‘Bug apocalypse!’

Introduction – ‘Bug apocalypse’ is a prelude to a 4 part series ‘Unseen enemies’, which looks at the increasing problem of invading pests and disease devastating agriculture, horticulture, natural woodlands and forests across the globe. These will be posted at a later date because, this article concerning the decline of our insect population looks at a problem that is now making headlines around the world.

The decline – Over the last few decades there has been an increasing decline in the insect population. Disappearing are many helpful predators including, Ladybugs Coccinellidae, Green Lacewings Chrysopidae, Honey Bees genus Apis, Praying Mantis family Mantidae, Spiders family Arachnida, Ground Beetles family Carabidae, Soldier Beetles family Cantharidae, Assassin Bugs family Reduviidae and Robber Flies. Asilidae

These insects are part of the food chain they eradicate unwanted pests including aphids, scale, mealy bugs and saw fly and in turn are the main resources for many birds, small mammals, fish, reptiles and other creatures. Moreover, they are an important key for human food production because, many crops depend on insects for pollination leading to fruit and seed production. Insects play a very important role in decomposing organic matter allowing nutrients to return to the soil and support the on coming crop season. Therefore, in terms of insect ecological importance, a sharp decline in their abundance is of great concern.

The arguments – Here are the points view from others whom are mindful of this issue. Will de Freitas asks if we are facing insect Armageddon he states that, “A recent study found that German nature reserves have seen a 75% reduction in flying insects over the last 27 years. The researchers involved made stark warnings that this indicated a wider collapse of the general insect population that would bring about an ecological catastrophe if left unchecked.”(article – October 25, 2017 – The Conversation)

Damian Carrington Environment editor for The Guardian in his article (10th February 2019) argues that “The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems.” “More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles; the total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available.”

In the February 2020 journal Biological Conservation no, 242 (a leading international body of scientists in the discipline of conservation science) Editor in chief Vincent Devictor of the Institut des Sciences de L’Evolution de Montpellier, France stated that. “We are causing insect extinctions by driving habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, use of polluting and harmful substances, the spread of invasive species, global climate change, direct over exploitation and co-extinction of species dependent on other species.”

Devictor goes on to say that “With insect extinctions, we lose much more than species. We lose abundance and biomass of insects, diversity across space and time with consequent homogenization, large parts of the tree of life, unique ecological functions and traits and fundamental parts of extensive networks of biotic interactions. Such losses lead to the decline of key ecosystem services on which humanity depends.”

According to http://www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk “The UK’s remaining rich grasslands now cover a minute fraction of the area they once covered, even relatively recently in the early 20th Century. There were once natural wildflower meadows in every parish – today only 2% of the meadows that existed in the 1930’s remain. Nearly 7.5 million acres of wildflower meadow have been lost so far and they are still being destroyed.”

The blame game – These are but a few of the arguments from scientists and conservationists from the many we have researched and from these points of view it appears we have a major situation on our hands. There are many theories as to the decline in insect populations they include, habitat destruction by intensive farming and urbanisation, pesticide use, introduced species, climate change, eutrophication from fertilisers, pollution and artificial lighting; the latter used in huge polyethylene tunnels for intensive crop production.

Yet, despite the scientific evidence provided, globally our performance in instigating effective insect conservation is below par, we need to realise this fact and act accordingly. This would involve more inclusive education, better decisions with land managers and government officials in maintaining unique habitats, across the globe. To have more expansive sustainable agriculture and forestry, improved regulation and prevention of environmental risks and greater recognition of protected landscapes.

But the frailty and idiosyncrasy of human nature is what it is, the world’s heads of state congregate at summits and conferences to find ways to solve problems, each pointing the finger blaming the other for their misgivings when they themselves are equally responsible for the same actions. It is fickleness, bureaucratic hypocrisy by the asinine in an attempt to maintain ‘stability’, (economic, environmental and social or profits, planet, and people) a mind set proposed for the wealthy not the masses.

As the world’s population increases more land for housing, food production, highway construction and industrial complexes are required to support the increasing demand resulting in irreversible changes to the environment. Insects are a major component of the tapestry of life and failure to protect them will have dire consequences. It is now time for heads of state and their minions to refrain from ‘putting their heads in the sand’ and listen to the scientists to prevent a ‘Bug apocalypse.’ Until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 55 – ‘The new book’

This is not a publicity or marketing ploy to promote our ‘new book’ (Taiga Bonzai Simplifying The Art – Revised Edition) it is to inform the many whom have asked where is the book and on what platform is it available? Our sincere apologies for the time taken to respond, but publication was delayed due to complications we had to address due to the following.

The original book (Taiga Bonzai Simplifying The Art) was sent for publication in 2018, but it’s progress to date remains unclear although we have tried on numerous occasions to contact the publishers without success. In addition, a contract between the publishers and ourselves was entered into which is legal and binding, hence we were prohibited from publishing elsewhere.

To solve the problem the book was re-written during 2020 with more chapters, content and images being added, making it into a ‘Revised Edition’ which is different from the original work. In addition, the original art work for the book’s front and back cover could not be used as this would breach the terms of the contract, it had to re-done which took time to complete.

As this new book will be published as an ‘E-Book’ choosing the right platform was not an easy task as there are many available with all having rules and regulations of one kind or another, hence a lot of research was needed. We decided to go with Google Play and the new book will be available beginning of this month ‘August 2021′. We do not envisage any technical problems, but if there are – our contact details can be found in the ‘About’ section at the top of the article.

According to Google indexing a book usually occurs within 48 hours on Google Play and for Google Books it can take up to 2 weeks. After indexing is complete, people are able to search for the book by either it’s title, author or the book’s ISBN or simply search for the book on Google Play Books. Alternatively, here is the ‘Google Play Books’ link for the book: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=GGKEY:FEGZU8E1P6Q

The original book took 4 years to research and write with an additional 18 months for the re-write, art work and platform research, taking into consideration these factors we believe that (€15,00) is a fair price for a comprehensive 200 page book on bonsai horticulture. Moreover, as we are ‘non-profit making‘ all proceeds go to education and research.

The next post article 56‘Bug apocalypse’ will be available August 8th, because at this juncture it is a ‘hot topic’ among the scientific fraternity – until next time, BW, Nik.

(New book front and back covers below)