You are hereNovember 2005: Summary of Keith Scott’s Visit

November 2005: Summary of Keith Scott’s Visit


November 2005: Summary of Keith Scott’s Visit

Yes, the Columbus Bonsai Society was very lucky indeed. Mr. Scott was on target with his comments about a variety of trees presented to him at our October meeting. One thing I noticed was his focus on the Nebari of the trees that we had brought to share with him and our fellow Bonsai enthusiasts. And the price (for anyone who hasn’t participated in a tree critique by an expert the caliber of Keith Scott) was a genuine bargain! Here are a few notes that I wrote from the things Keith Scott told us about the trees that he critiqued.

Tree 1 – a Chamaecyparis: Keith suggested that the owner look at John Naka’s book. The top of this species should be rounded not triangular like a pine. The foliage should be trained into clouds. The minor roots at the base should be trimmed to make the roots radiate out from the trunk. This surface root pruning is OK to do until the tree is frozen. He suggested when repotted that this type of tree should be in an oval pot.

Tree 2 – Juniper “San Hosea?” – Eliminate the small jin that clutters the design. This tree had branches that had been cut; Keith said to jin them so that they did not look cut. When repotting – raise the tree up so that its buttress is about 1” above the edge of the pot. This tree is about 2 feet tall. The tree had a pair of branches one over the other; the top one was to be removed. The minor branches needed to be wired down to make the tree look older.

Tree 3 – Shimpaku – the first branch on the right was to be jinned. There was already a lower branch that had been jinned. In the spring Keith recommended repotting this tree so that the first branch is parallel to the ground. He said that Shimpaku have weak root systems, so he recommends burying the pot to the rim in the winter. He said that Shimpaku, Trident Maple, Scots Pine and Smooth Bark Elm were his favorite species for bonsai. He said that with enough sun, water and fertilizer a healthy Shimpaku should put on 6” of growth a year.

Tree 4- American White Spruce – He wanted the lowest branch towards the back taken off and the next lowest branch, to the left jinned. In the spring when the candles come out he wanted the owner to work on reducing branch length. He said that the tree had become leggy and needed to be worked back. He said that it needed more light and that the pot seemed to busy for his taste.

Tree 5 – Elm – Keith identified it as a Formosa Elm and stated that it was not hardy here for outdoors. Again he drew our attention to the roots as they radiated out from the nebari. He wanted surface roots to touch the soil and radiate out. Again he said this was a rounded top tree that should have foliage pad clouds.

Tree 6 – San Jose Juniper. He said that these were pokey. To trim he said that they need to be cut between the buds to control the length of the branches.

Tree 7 – Smooth Bark Elm – Ulmus carpinifolia - Keith said that this was one of his favorite species for bonsai. In the spring they have small red blossoms. He said this tree was too high in its pot and needed to have some of its bottom sheared off in the spring when it was repotted. It needs full sun and lots of water. He suggested that this tree be trained in a two top style. The tree that Keith has in the National Arboretum is of the same species. There were a few roots that he suggested be cut to lower the nebari to make it look larger. He said that the roots should be left because after they were cut they would bud and form new trees. He cut two and propped them away from the trunk. He said they would develop buds now but in the spring such budding is more rapid.

Tree 8 – Juniper procumbens - Nana – He noted that the tree was tied into the pot with wire that was too thin. He said that we should never use wire less than 3.0 mm to wire roots. This tree had three hefty back branches that were cut. Keith suggested taking them off and working with the smaller branches. He suggested that the top needed to be pinched back to encourage bottom growth. As another styling idea he suggested turning the tree 90 degrees. Perhaps developing two tops. He said that Junipers need lots of sun and water.

Tree 9- Korean Hornbeam – He said that the natural shape of the hornbeam is a rounded crown. This tree needed to be potted lower, and he noted that he liked his bonsai to have a more open branching pattern. Take off all the new growth that has grown straight up. He noted that Korean Hornbeam are hardy to about 20 below (F), but they cannot take a lot of fertilizer especially liquid, this causes them to have leaf burn and may kill the tree. He said that their natural size is about 10 feet tall with about a 12 foot spread.

Tree 10 – Wisteria –This tree had moss in the pot and up the trunk. Keith went into great detail as to why it is necessary to keep the moss off the truck – He said it is OK between the roots, but clean it off the trunk with a brush at least once a year. He said that the water that the moss holds produces rot in the bark. He said he uses Daconil, Funginex, or dormant rose spray to control fungus and recommended that we do that. He said Orchard Spray was good to – on all types of trees, not just fruit trees. One side of this specimen had died. Keith noted that Wisteria will do that. He said to jin the dead side and work the wood with a brass brush and then to treat the wood with rose spray to slow down any rotting. He noted that Wisteria are rapid growers, and that they should be pruned after they bloom in July. He also said that the soil needs to be kept damp to the touch.

Tree 11- Japanese Quince – Again he brushed the moss from the trunk. He said that it needed more sun than it had been getting. Also this tree does best when its pot is placed directly on the ground. That way its roots won’t dry as quickly. He suggested that we look up flowering trees on the Internet and note how to get them to blossom. He said even moisture gives more blossoms (on the ground). He said leaves produce roots. Roots do not produce leaves. He told us that when the blossoms come, then prune back to the blossoms in the spring.

Keith mentioned that he started teaching bonsai in 1964. He said that he has even taught in Japan, though his Japanese wasn’t very good. But now he doesn’t lecture anymore, but he loves to talk about trees. We were very lucky that we heard him talk about our trees.

~ Ken Schultz