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xxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxx Lane
XXXXXXXXXX
Hampshire
RG27 XXXX

Telephone: 0118 XXX XXXX
Peter Trenear's Tree Nursery in XXXXXXX, Hampshire.

TO BEGIN

During the early training period, Bonsai are better grown in either the open ground or in conventional flower pots.
Once we have formed the basic shape, we need to thicken the trunk and branches and ensure that the pruning scars are healed as quickly as possible. For this we need healthy and sturdy growth. We feed regularly with a balanced fertilizer and water as and when required.

PLANTING IN POTS

Plastic pots are quite suitable for early training. Though not as aesthetically pleasing as clay, they have been carefully designed to ensure good drainage and good growth.

Clay pots have the great advantage of a porous texture that allows the roots to breathe even when the soil is packed tight. This is important because to grow a good tree, we need firm planting and a soil based compost. These were the foundation of pot growing in the days before plastic pots and loamless compost.

Bonsai pots will of course be needed for the more advanced specimens, these need to be chosen with great care, matching the pot to the tree, or perhaps the dish to the trees. For one of the delights of Bonsai is group planting. Another reason to grow on the trees in training pots, they then have excellent root systems to make for easy establishment.

PLANTING IN OPEN GROUND

The following trees dislike chalky soil.
ACERS, AZALEAS, RHODODENDRONS, PINES, TSUGA, THUYA, LIQUIDAMBAR
If planting these add plenty of peat to the soil.
Some peat or leaf mould should be added to all trees intended for Bonsai as this will increase the amount of soil attached to the roots when they are dug up again.

COMPOST

I find a mixture of John Innes No.2 plus loamless ericaceous compost plus sharp sand or grit, in equal parts. Is suitable for all trees other than the above lime haters.
Leave out the John Innes and use more ericaceous. If you know your own soil is neutral or acidic, use it instead of the John Innes.

FEEDING

Liquid feeding is best. A well balanced type such as Phostrogen is ideal. However any similar variety used at half strength, should prove successful in maintaining good but not excessive growth.

WATERING

From Spring to Autumn, the advice is simple. Water whenever the surface appears dry.
In Winter, in addition to surface drying test the weight of the pot against that of a similarly filled pot. If it weighs much heavier it is probably waterlogged, the most frequent cause of trees dying in Winter.

PRUNING

Study the illustrations of completed Bonsai. There are now many excellent books available either from your Library or Bookshop.
But nature is the best designer and by observing the manner of growth of trees in windswept and mountainous areas the type of growth you need is made evident.
Look well. Look long, and think again before making that cut. Once cut you can't stick it back on.

WIRING

Shaping by winding aluminium wire round the trunk or branches, is the easiest method of transforming a tree into a Bonsai, or for that matter, altering the shape of any tree indoors or out.
If you have difficulty getting aluminium or copper wire, string and stakes make a good substitute, with less chance of causing damage if forgetting to check the growth. Sometimes WE FORGET TO REMOVE THE WIRE AND THIS CAUSES LASTING MARKS ON THE BRANCH OR TRUNK. Capitals were an error whilst typing, but perhaps a good idea to leave them. Stones tied to branch ends give a very effective curve to branches. So save that stone with a hole in it. String and wood are of course the cheapest method and give good scope for ingenuity.

GENERAL ADVICE

Bonsai means "A tree in a pot", but we know that the Bonsai we want is not just "A tree in a pot".
There is a tradition that goes with the word. Certain parts of the tree have been given more care than the others.
  • The trunk should be thick at the base and taper gradually to the top, as does that of a full grown tree.
  • Bark should seem old and scarred.
  • The leaves and flowers should be small.
  • The shape of the tree should be balanced but not necessarily symmetrical. A curving stem adds interest and helps to reduce the height/width ratio.
  • A completed Bonsai should carry a feeling of survival. One imagines it withstanding the buffetings of many years as it clings to life, changing direction when necessary. Tough but supple.
  • It has survived and now it shows peace and calmness, beneath a well knit canopy of foliage on a framewwork of hard won branches.
  • An encouraging object of contemplation.