Welcome to the Saruyama Blog, intermittent and generally off topic. Occasionally you might see some trees...and weird ones at that.

Sunday 10 August 2014

Early autumn, fungal issues and what to watch out for

So I am finally starting to get settled into the new website and find my way around. There have been a few issues but it seems to be heading in the right direction. The shop will be opened for business shortly, within the next few days. I have shown a few people some items and they have said it looks good. I doubt anything will sell because it might be a bit "how much for that dirty old pot!" and such like, but it is time to start making space at Saruyama towers so I can fill it up with more stuff. In fact I just purchased a rather nice maple and I now have to start looking into the planning permission and health and safety regs for building double-decker benches. It was however, too good an opportunity to miss out. As part of my Japanese training which now seems oh so long ago, I was introduced to the idea of seasonality in bonsai display, bonsai cultivation and cuisine. Unless you are a farmer or a keen gardener as a child then nowadays we kind of grow up thinking that tomatoes grow all year round, cucumbers are an acceptable addition to Christmas dinner and the only season you are worried about is the start of the football
.Saruyama bonsai spidey sense Developing as a bonsai practitioner, I started to attune my spidey senses to weather, climate and any little seasonal changes. Growing up in the UK you kind of know naturally when it is going to rain just by the feeling you get in your bones as you stare up at the sky or peer from the window of a morning, but there is more to climate than just rain, just as there is more to climate change than global warming (love that argument that climate change doesn't exist because our winters are still cold). Cast your mind back and remember the winter and early spring we had in Europe...(apologies to the rest of the world)...it seems as if the seasons are shifting up the calendar. It would appear as though we are on the verge of autumn. A few things have made me think this recently...the incredibly red berries on my hawthorns, the slight chill to the air of an evening and the morning and as I was driving to a clients on Friday morning, I looked up to see saruyama bonsai autumnal geese
  Obviously this isn't the photograph that I took as I drove up the M1, but I saw some geese on their way some where and it was just another nail in the coffin of summer. Another sign which made me ever so slightly wish I was back in Japan (although it is still incredibly hot there 34 degrees) was the misty moon the other night which along with the migrating geese, is a very typical autumnal image used in bonsai display

. saruyama bonsai misty moon
Again, not my picture, but it is kind of what I saw. the harvest moon is a bit early, we are a month away yet, but it was definitely feeling autumnal the other night. Such images are often used in Japanese bonsai display in October/November when the trees are starting to turn colour. autumn blog pics 4

 I got this image from the Capital Bonsai blog, read it for more autumnal excellence and a full explanation of this scroll

autumn blog pics 3
This image comes from the 2012 International stone symposium at which Mr. Morimae did a seminar on mainly suiseki display. He actually painted the scroll himself, a classic oboro zuki (hazy moon)

autumn blog pics 11

Like this rainy image...

autumn blog pics 9
And there you go, yet another bonsai display with a misty moon, not taken at the Chiefs, I got this from google. Nice pine, shame about the suiseki though..

sauyama bonsai display
Apologies for the poor photoshoppery but why does everyone feel the need to put three items in a display? These Japanese don't know anything, or maybe I just prefer to be lonely. Anyway, what does all this mean for our trees? This late summer, early autumn period is very important for lots of reasons. Trees start to think about the upcoming winter, next year and make preparations. We will see a final growth spurt which may manifest itself as another flush of extensions on Junipers, bud setting on pines or thickening in deciduous trees. It is important to fertilise appropriately, so keep up with fertiliser, especially a high P-K fertiliser (organic naturally). In addition to this, seaweed extract is advisable for all those micro nutrients and growth hormones that will strengthen cell walls and assist the tree do all sorts of stuff that trees need to do. I will be selling an incredible brand of this shortly. It has revolutionised my garden (well made it much greener) but that is by the by. Other things that you need to think about are wires digging into to branches as they thicken, especially deciduous and Scots Pine. Many people transplant pines in the Autumn, I rarely do this but I have seen it done successfully.

white pine If your White Pines are starting to look like this...with the orange needle casing starting to fall off then now is the best time to start pruning back. Cut back the strongest buds when you have other secondary shoots behind them. In certain cases on very strong trees you can remove the entire bud, kind of like candle cutting on black pines and it will stimulate new buds further back in. I would not advise this until you have experience of what can and can't be cut or you will end up with a lot of blind shoots next year. I will go into more detail in another post sometime this week weather permitting so wait for that. One of my biggest concerns this year has been the proliferation of fungal problems on trees, in particular junipers. I was having a conversation with the owner of a reputable bonsai nursery about the increase in fungal infections. Tips dying off, branches dying and in some cases entire trees just collapsing in the blink of an eye. Look for browning growth tips, yellowing foliage, anything out of the ordinary and then look closely at the dead foliage. Can you see black spots? chances are it is some kind of fungus and do some more research. Books are good...but the internet can be useful. What can be done to prevent this? Good hygienic practices and preventative spraying of fungicides is always a good idea. Good hygiene is basically cleaning any dead branches as soon as they die, allowing good airflow around the tree and also sterilizing tools as you work on different trees to stop cross contamination. Understanding how and when fungal spores form and distribute will help you to stop infections spreading. Sadly one way they are spread is by the wind and so that is hard to prevent, but rain and water on the foliage can be controlled.


 Preventative spraying should be done on a regular basis at various times of the year. Now and spring in particular. It is important to have a few different chemicals in your armoury and vary them up on a cyclical basis. Spraying chemicals is a very dangerous process and this should be covered in more detail somewhere else but it isn't yet..so the short version.
  • Use a mask, use a good sprayer, use gloves and goggles and a waterproof rain coat.
  • Don't drink the stuff, breathe it in or spray it on anything other than your trees.
  • Avoid any other living things, especially fish. Spray early morning or in the evening to avoid bees and prolong the life of photosensitive chemicals.
  • Don't do it on a windy day or a completely still day.
  • Use measuring instruments and calculate the correct concentration. Double and triple check.
  • Mix thoroughly. Some chemicals, especially daconil, are much heavier than water and have relatively poor solubility. They will sink to the bottom of your sprayer and the last quarter of a tank will come out like rancid milk. (You learn that from experience don't you mike)
A lot of people will say you should be organic and think of the environment and I agree entirely on an agricultural level....but not on my trees. No way. Minimise environmental and human damage as much as possible, but there is yet to be as effective an alternative. I would recommend these items and chemicals to be used with great care. Clicking on the links will take you to amazon uk or .com, if you buy anything I will earn like 0.02% so it will be some kind of payback for the two hours it has taken for me to give you this free information ;) All items are recommended/used at Saruyama. The sprayer might be too big for most people, but go for a good brand rather than a cheap and cheerful one.
For UK visitors...
For US visitors...
I will say again. Please do be careful if and when you use any of the above chemicals. They are highly toxic and should be handled and used with great care. Think of the environment.
That said, I don't want to sound as though I am the harbinger of doom and gloom, I hope we have a month of summer left, especially as we are spanking the Indians in the cricket but I have one eye on the weather forecast and one eye on the sky every morning.


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  3. very beautiful and so lovely work :) i like your good idea ,Thanks for the inspiration!