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Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.

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DorianJF:
Only a pleasure. 

I know exactly where Bassonia is and it is colder then Northern JHB in winter by a few degrees.  But in saying that you have hardy trees that will survive winter.


--- Quote from: abNormalZA on March 08, 2016, 11:44 AM ---The style that I want to go for is a bit of an exaggeration of what they look like in the savanna which is to say tall and thin trunk with the branches right at the top almost at a 90 degree angle outwards into a very flat, lush canopy. I've never even heard of the Pierneef style! I've only read of Asian styles.

--- End quote ---
My suggestion is to do a google search on black monkey thorn bonsai or acacia bonsai etc and see something that really appeals to you and use that as reference of what you want to work towards.  I would personally remove all the wiring on the tree and wait for late winter (August) to think about wiring it again, pruning, repotting etc.

Right now you want your tree to rest and save all its energy that it has built up over summer to get through the winter months.  DO NOT defoliate your trees now.  Should your trees not have lost their leaves by mid June beginning of July, then you can defoliate as both species need to loose their leaves during winter. 

I know one of the hardest things to do especially if you are new to bonsai is actually leave your tree alone.  The desire is there to make it look perfect all the time.  I would take the next few months and join up with a bonsai club and get involved with more people who share the passion.  I belong to a club in Midrand should you be interested.  Feel free to let me know.  Otherwise there are numerous ones around JHB that are very good.  Get to see what everyone does. You will not be sorry to join up with a club.  Also being part of a club allows you to get better bonsai supplies like potting mixes, wires, tools pots etc. Read up about  wiring, pruning, repotting etc because come Spring, then that is really when your hobby comes alive.


abNormalZA:
So this raises a few questions from me: how much stress does wiring put on a tree? And is there a best season for wiring a tree and if so why?

I met a great guy who is currently building a bonsai nursery not far from where I live and he mentioned that he is part of a bonsai club so I will inquire further on where it is and how to join etc.

ceolaf:

1) A big challenge for you might be finding the right wire.

Copper wire is preferred (certainly for conifers, though not necessarily for deciduous) because of its holding power. By annealing it, it gets fairly soft. That is, until it is flexed and bent, at which point it gets stiffer again. And that's the stiffness of thick copper.

If you cannot get thicker copper wire -- not this braided or twisted stuff -- you might want to reconsider what you use. (It is possible to (poorly) anneal it yourself, which you will have not look into.) On the other hand, there ARE alternatives. For example, aluminum -- which usually preferred for deciduous trees. Again, a thick wire. Strands 1-5mm thick -- strong enough to hold the bends, but not really stronger than that. You can look at virtually any bonsai supply vendor online to at at least see what I'm talking about.

Ask the bonsai guy about what wire he uses and where he gets it.


2) The purpose of wiring to is hold bends. That is, you want to reshape a limb or branch (or even a trunk). So, you twist the wire around it, and then bend the wire into the shape you want. The wire holds the shape, while the tree grows. The limb/branch/trunk will take on the shape, so that after a while you can off the wire.

So, any wire that is not strong enough to hold the shape is just not doing you any good. And you only wire in order to get the shape you want. If you are putting on wire, it should be to reshape the tree. So, part of wiring is learning the right strength for the limb/branch/trunk you are trying to bend. (Yes, this means the same tree may have many different gauges of wire on it, using the right strength for each part of the tree.)


3) Note that you don't HAVE to wire. Its is one of the most common ways to reshape elements of a tree, but you do not HAVE to use it. You could, instead, just do it through careful and guided pruning. Different techniques. Wiring is a great technique, and I am NOT suggesting your don't use it. But you need wire that is flexible enough of you to apply well, while being strong enough to hold the bending and shaping you introduce. Some of that comes from your technique, but some is the physical properties of the wire.

Yes, I am saying that you need to get suitable wire. Without suitable wire, don't bother with wiring.


4) Yes, there are better and worse times to wire a tree, depending on the species. But that's not a huge deal. It is more important to pay attention for when to REMOVE the wire, so that it doesn't leave scars. That is, just when it starts to dig in (because the tree is expanding) remove it.


5) The biggest challenge -- in my view -- when wiring and bending is learning how much you can bend before the limb/branch/trunk just snap. Don't bend that far! Of course, if you are just learning, you will mess that up a whole bunch of times -- for each species you end up working with. That's ok. It's a learning process.


6) Neat or messy wiring technique is FAR FAR FAR less important than avoiding damaging the tree with your wiring. Breaking branches by accident is bad, obviously. Leaving wiring on too long and thereby scaring the tree is bad. But as wire is meant to be temporary, prettiness is not as important as long term damage.

Of course, good even wiring is actually the strongest way to do it that doesn't hurt the tree. So, prettiness and practicality are not entirely separate. Proper spacing and the ideal angle for your wire ARE about practicality. But you will get better at that with practice -- if you look at the resources others have pointed you to.


***************************

Summary:

1) Find suitable wire.

2) Think about why you are wiring a particular tree or parts of a tree.

3) Put on the right strength of wire for that part of the tree (the resources others have pointed you to will give you rules of thumb for picking the right strength).

4) Bend carefully, so as not to damage the tree.

5) Keep an eye out for when to remove the wire.

6) Know that you are still learning, and so you will make mistakes.

DorianJF:
Well said Ceolaf

Could not have said it better my self.

Remember AbNormalZa that everything that we put down is really only the basics.  There are so many different techniques that one can use.  Ultimately the best this is to get stuck in and try.  Like Ceolaf said, you WILL make mistakes.  I do not know a single person who does bonsai that has not killed numerous trees.  But they all continued with their love for bonsai and got better at it.

You have 2 good trees to start with.  Both are very hardy and strong species that are perfect to learn from. 

To answer your question on how much stress does wiring put on a tree, it is very difficult to say.  Some species can take an amazing amount of wiring stress by bending the branches and twisting them in some most amazing ways whilst others do not like wiring at all and the branches die as soon as they are wired and bent. 

Both your species can take a considerable amount of wiring and bending but again the only way you will know is by starting slowly and gradually building up and seeing how the tree handles it.

Should you want to get some wire, have a look at the following places.

Jonathan Cain on Cell: 083 698 9069
email : jonathan@bonsaisa.co.za
Jonathan is the owner of a bonsai nursery and member of our club and has stock on all types of wire, tools etc. He is based in Midrand.

Otherwise if you want to order online try Terry Erasmus on https://www.bonsaitree.co.za/ 
Terry writes a fantastic blog and if you sign up to his newsletter you get a R100 discount off your first order of R250 or more.

I buy all my soil mix from Terry and he is always more then willing to help out with advice etc.

So keep this thread going.  Definitely want to be able to follow your bonsai journey.

SpongeMann:
So far so good AbnormalZa. I love Acacia's and I don't have any. Keep it up.

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