It´s summer time, and the Danish summer behaves as it sometimes does. It rains. It rains. And it rains.
Not much sun lately, but temperatures are alright. It might not be good for humans who wants to enjoy holidays by relaxing in the garden with the sun shining, enjoying the bonsai, eating diner outside – but is surely good weather for the plants. Days shifting between a little sun and then rain to nurse the foliage. Trees are clearly growing good, and benefits from this kind of weather. And there is a special mood in a garden after a night with summer rain that one can enjoy. Waiting for sun though. 😉
June means a high level of new growth. Sometimes it is necessary to let trees grow more than normal before trimming, so the health of the tree is ensures. Watch the video where a Cork Bark Elm and an English Yew is trimmed.
These warm summer days (that we are not blessed with too often this summer), it is important to provide some partial shade for especially smaller bonsai. Small shohin bonsai are easily dried out during a warm day, and partial shade in the middle of the day is essential in midd summer. Use a net for the purpose, or place the bonsai under partial shade from large garden trees for example.
Check regularly for watering needs during the day when possible. Bonsai do not dry out at the same time, just because they have the same size. Different leaf amounts and different types of foliage decides how much each plant evaporates. Weaker trees with less roots have to be shaded more, because the fewer roots may not be able to take up enough water to follow the speed of evaporation.
Please also take in mind the importance of the pot quality. The classic Japanese and Chinese pots are made especially to fulfill the purpose of being able to keep the roots cooler. Some western pots are made of heavier clay, and build with thicker walls, not having the ability to keep the temperatures low in the pot on a hot day with sun heating up pot, soil and roots. It is essential to keep the trees healthy avoiding an overheated pot. In nature the roots of the trees are always deep in the soil and kept in a natural steady temperature. Bonsai lives a more dangerous life, where soil temperatures vary when heated by the sun and cooled by watering. Good bonsai pots build with the right clay and thinner walls helps keeping the soil temperature variations as small as possible.
Finally. Do not wait to the afternoon to water your trees if they are dry. Water immediately and when needed. Harmed roots dried out and overheated may damage the health of the tree severely.
The Shohin-bonsai and the garden sprouts with new growth and vigour. A mild winter, warm spring and promising early summer days makes the season look better than ever. Weather has a huge impact on growing bonsai, big and small. It is not enough being good at techniques regarding wiring and cutting i.e. Watering at the right times depending on the needs of each individual tree is a daily task necessary to practise and learn over years. Sheltering trees properly in winter, make them grow better the following year. Placing the trees in a sheltered place during the growing season speeds up the successful growing of bonsai.
Aesthetically it is pleasing to have an area designed for bonsai that looks good. But as important is the location of the area. Is there semi-shade during the day so trees are not burned by the sun, and dried out too quickly during a hot summers day? Especially when we are growing shohin, that have small pots where soil dries out faster than many larger trees. Carefully plant trees that provides shade during the day when the sun is at the highest. Help the air humidity around the trees, by planting vegetation nearby, and place watering basins too. Even trays with water right beneath the trees will help air humidity and a better environment for your small shohin bonsai.
Each specimens requires its special conditions. Some trees are very tolerant, placed in sun or semi shade. Others are set back if not placed properly. Pines needs air and sun. I have experienced Scots pines getting lots of whiteflies when standing in leeward, but when placed airy with some winds around them, they will not get attacked by the whiteflies who doesn’t like the wind.
If trees thrives well in sun, place them in the sun (but let them be in partial shade at the hottest time of the day). A big amount of light develops a denser tree than one placed in the shadow. The distance between the leaf pairs (internodes) is shorter when grown with a higher amount of light, which is important to keep a compact growing Shohin-bonsai. Everything to experience and learn by practising in your local area. A learning path that will newer end.