Author Topic: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.  (Read 3382 times)

abNormalZA

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Hi all, first post here. So these are my first bonsais. The small one in the stone is my Acacia Erubescens and the bigger one in the round pot is my Acacia Burkei or Black Monkey Thorn.

I just wired them today and I don't know how to feel about my work. It's getting the job done but I don't know if it will stay that way in the months to come. Plus I think it's a bit messy. This includes my pruning work.

So any advice or constructive criticism that you may have will be welcomed. How can I wire better? Where can I wire more or less? Where can I prune more or should have pruned less? Anything goes.

Thanks in advance.
 

bwaynef

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Re: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2016, 02:52 PM »
One of the best resources I've seen for learning wiring online is:
http://www.craftsy.com/class/bonsai-wiring-essentials/4616

Colin Lewis is reputable and the course is free. 

Where are you located?  Can you update your profile with your location & USDA hardiness zone (if you're in the US at least)?
 

abNormalZA

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Re: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2016, 03:29 AM »
Hey bwaynef, thanks for replying :)

My profile was already updated to I'm not sure why you can't see my location. I'm from Johannesburg, South Africa.

I'll definitely take a look at that website you suggested so thank you!
 

DorianJF

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Re: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2016, 06:53 AM »
Hi AbNormalZa

Welcome to the forum and glad you are posting.

Where in JHB are you based?  The reason for the question is because I am also in JHB but I know that there is a huge difference between the temps between certain JHB areas which will affect your pruning time etc.

Do not prune anything any further now as we are heading into Autumn / winter. 

I am not too sure on your bonsai knowledge so please take this advice as constructive.

Just looking at the images that you posted, I hope that I can give some assistance.  Wiring is an art that you have to learn and that site is a very good one.  What I can see from the wire that you have used, it is too thin and because of that, you have had to use many pieces together to get the strength needed to be able to bend the branches.  My suggestion is to invest in a few different thickness's of wire.  That way one can use the thickest wire closest to the trunk and thinner wire as you move toward the tips of the branches.

What style are you going for with regards to the 2 trees. As you may know, the most common form for Acacia (now Vachellia and Senegalia species) is the Pierneef style which replicates the umbrella form so commonly seen in the African veld

I have included images of this below.

Once you have decided on the style that you want to take, let us know and I know that we will be able to assist you with the next step on styling the tree and the best way to wire it etc.

Pruning - As I mentioned earlier do not prune any further.  Many types of Vachellia and Senegalia species (Old Acacia species) suffer from die-back.  What that means is that you could prune it and the branch starts to die backwards from the cut up to the next healthy node on the branch or up to the trunk.  So in other words you could loose a branch exactly where you do not want to.

The best time to prune Vachellia and Senegalia is when the new buds start to swell and break on the branches as we head into spring. 

I took a picture off a site called Lennard's bonsai beginnings where Lennard discusses his Black monkey thorn.  I met with Lennard once when I bought some of his trees off him and we discussed this method and how well it actually works.  By doing a heavy cut back, you awaken buds lower down the branch.  That way the new buds grow lower down the branch and you increase your ramification on all your branches.
http://lennardsbonsaibeginnings.blogspot.co.za/2012/06/acacia-burkeiblack-monkey-thorn.html?view=timeslide

 Pic 3 - The purple lines indicate where the cuts will be made on a black monkey thorn as the buds are starting to break.

So I hope that helps.  Lets hear your thoughts on the tree and lets take it from there.


« Last Edit: March 08, 2016, 07:01 AM by DorianJF »
 
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abNormalZA

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Re: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2016, 11:44 AM »
Hey Dorian, thanks for replying and thanks for the welcome!

I must say your post was what I was looking for. Lots of helpful information!
I am based in Bassonia, JHB South but not as south as Walkerville or De Deur. The surrounding areas are Mulbarton, Alberton and Meyersdal. I live on top of a mountain overlooking a large valley. It's difficult to say what the lowest temps in winter get to as you know how iffy the winters here in SA are but last year I think we got to around 10 degrees Celsius in my house.

The wire that I used was bought from Builder's Warehouse, it was the only copper wire they had. It came as small wire wrapped into 4mm wire. They didn't have one solid 4mm wire.

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. I think I'll be revisiting the wiring pretty soon as I'm not happy with the current work.

It's good that you let me know not to prune right now because I was about to defoliate both of my Acacias completely after this! But let me get this straight: I must prune ONLY as we head into spring and when I do it's safe to do some pretty heavy pruning?

Again thanks for the helpful reply, you've basically saved my trees!
 

DorianJF

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Re: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2016, 12:32 PM »
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.

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.
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

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Re: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2016, 06:57 AM »
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

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Re: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2016, 08:54 AM »

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.


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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

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Re: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2016, 12:54 PM »
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

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Re: Acacia Erubescens (Blouhaak) Wiring And Trimming Advice.
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2016, 11:29 AM »
So far so good AbnormalZa. I love Acacia's and I don't have any. Keep it up.