My next visit was to the Gold Coast Tweeds Bonsai Club in the Gold Coast of Australia where the next BCI and Australian Associated Bonsai Clubs will have their joint convention next August. We began with a workshop for ten members. A wide variety of species were brought from a collected African olive, Seiju elm, Trident maple, well trained Japanese black and red pines and, of course Dwarf Japanese garden junipers.
Since there were many observers, I like to set up a table in the front of the room where I worked. Each student, one by one, brought their workshop bonsai and we discussed the source, previous training, health, design and what the student wanted to do. Then I presented my suggestions for improvement and usually made a few basic cuts to start the training process. Then each student went back to their individual tables and worked on their bonsai. After all ten trees were discussed I went around and helped each student. Finally, just before the end of the session everyone took their seats and the plants were brought up front again for comments and to show everyone the students’ fine work.
I like this method of conducting workshops because the observers, as well as each student can see all the plants brought in and listened and participated in the initial evaluation. Even though the plant discussed did not belong to a student, they usually learn something from the others.
I had an excellent selection of demonstration trees, perhaps one of the best ever in my career. There was an excellent Japanese black pine which had been trained for perhaps twenty years which interested me and I felt could improve and provide information and techniques which students could use on their own bonsai in the future. When I saw the tree in the morning, before the workshop began, I immediately organized my Powerpoinot program on Japanese Black Pine Bonsai.” A slight refinement of the program was quickly made to customize the information for the club to provide images which would illustrate the background, sources, training, styles as well as design of pine bonsai.
The lecture demonstration followed and many interesting questions were answered so everyone could learn. The tree did not need much work, but needed some help in the crown because a few heavy branches were vigorously growing. In fact, several of the top branches had female pine cones developing. Information was presented throughout the presentation as I thinned out the needles, trimmed a few branches and wired. There was not sufficient time to completely wire the bonsai, however a few branches were finished to show how to correctly set the branches and provide a guide and perhaps, inspiration for the owner of the bonsai.