Welcome to the Victorian Native Bonsai Club
Our club specialises in Australian Native Plants and Trees as Bonsai. We’d love for you to be part of our club. Feel free to browse our content rich website and for more information on how to join so you can be part of our community and gain access to other specialised videos, events and our species database, please click here.
- Tree of the Month – July 2020
Our feature tree this month is the group of trees which often come under the common name of Sheoak, and which includes quite a number of species grouped in two genera, Casuarina and Allocasuarina. Where previously Sheoaks were mostly all described as Casuarina, these were separated into separate genera in around 1980.
Allocasuarina includes around 60 species, all of which are endemic to Australia, while the closely-related Casuarina genus includes about 17 species, which are distributed across Australia, the Indian subcontinent, south-east Asia, islands of the western Pacific, and eastern Africa.
While quite a few different species of Allocasuarina and Casuarina have been used as bonsai, three species of particular interest to VNBC members are Allocasuarina littoralis, or Black Sheoak, Allocasuarina torulosa, or Rose Sheoak, and Casuarina cunninghamiana, or River Sheoak.
Black Sheoak occurs as a medium-sized tree along the eastern coastal areas of Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria, and Tasmania, usually growing in woodland and sometimes in tall heath, and often growing in sandy and other poor soils. Rose Sheoak is a medium-sized tree, native to the surrounds of rainforest areas in eastern and coastal Queensland and NSW. River Sheoak naturally occurs as a tallish tree in sunny stream banks and swampy areas from Northern Territory through to Queensland and southern New South Wales.
The characteristic fine needle-like foliage and the rough, ridged bark of sheoaks makes them an interesting subject for training as bonsai in a variety of styles.
These trees featured below are just a small selection of VNBC members’ trees displayed in recent exhibitions by the club.
- Meetings Update
As of 21st June, the club still does not have any definite dates for club meetings to get under way again. The community restrictions for minimizing coronavirus spread continue to restrict considerably the numbers of people who can come together, and the availability of meeting spaces remains very limited. The club committee is continually monitoring the situation, and management of risk to club members and the wider community continues to take priority.
However, to help keep information flowing to members, a small number of committee members recently conducted a critique workshop involving a few of their own trees, which was recorded by video and is being made available to members. A report on the workshop is also being included in the club newsletter.
Photos of some of the “action”, and a few of the trees used for the workshop, are shown below.
- Tree of the Month – June 2020
Melaleuca styphelioides, or Prickly Paperbark, is a ready favourite species for many bonsai growers, with its characteristic fast growth rate, its ability to respond readily to pruning, wiring and trimming, and its classic papery bark developing in quite young plants.
This species, one of many in the Melaleuca genus, has a natural distribution mostly in the moister coastal areas of New South Wales and into Queensland. It is found mostly along waterways, as well as in some tableland areas. Prickly Paperbark has been used extensively as an ornamental street tree in Sydney and Melbourne, and has been widely planted in parks, gardens and in farm shelterbelts, due to its ability to thrive in a variety of environmental conditions.
The classic form of Prickly Paperbark in the open is an upright tree of up to 20m height, with a dense crown of small, tight, pointed leaves, with spikes of small, creamy white flowers in the bottlebrush form. The papery bark readily peels off the trunk in large strips.
When grown as a bonsai, this species responds readily to repotting, root pruning, wiring and branch pruning, allowing for development of a wide variety of styles.
This is, of course, just one of the great diversity of Melaleuca species native to many parts of Australia. Others of this genus vary widely in their growth habits, leaf shapes, bark characteristics, and most of these other species are also readily grown as Bonsai. More will be featured at later dates.
- Our Tree of the Month, May 2020
Every month, we aim to feature one Australian native species as bonsai, with reference as to how that species grows in the wild.
This month, May 2020, our feature tree is Leptospermum laevigatum, commonly known as Coastal Tea Tree, which has been a favourite species of many of our club members, and which has proved itself as a species which can be used in a wide variety of styles. With a small, oval leaf form, interesting flaky bark, and ready response to training and wiring of younger branches, this tree has been grown as spectacular windswept bonsai, as well as informal upright trees, and plenty of other styles reflecting the natural growth habits and adapability of the tree.
This species has a natural distribution across coastal areas of south eastern Australia, primarily in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales, and particularly on sandy dunes. It has, however, also been grown extensively in South Australia, Western Australia and south east Queensland, and has been introduced to a number of overseas countries, including locations in South Africa, New Zealand, California and Hawaii.
Coastal Tea Tree grows in a fascinating variety of forms, and the influences of its coastal exposure often results in trees with strange, twisted shapes naturally. The trunks of mature trees are characterized by their rough, ropy and twisted appearance, with thin, flaky bark.
The two photos above show some of the forms exhibited by trees in coastal Victoria, while below are a couple of examples of Leptospermum laevigatum as Bonsai.
In addition to this species of Leptospermum, there are about 83 species of Tea-tree across Australia, with 17 species in Victoria. Many of these species, including some of the available cultivars, are highly regarded as bonsai material.
- VNBC 2020 Exhibition On Line
Victorian Native Bonsai Club – The 2020 Virtual Bonsai Exhibition
The Victorian Native Bonsai Club was to have held its annual Show this year in early April.
Because of the social distancing restrictions being imposed by governments due to Covid-19 pandemic the Show was not able to go ahead.
We are pleased to announce, that in the absence of an actual physical display of Australian native bonsai, you can now view an exhibition of bonsai in our Virtual Bonsai Exhibition.
To view the Exhibition photos and the catalogue, please click on the heading “2020 VNBC Exhibition of Bonsai with Australian Native Plants” in the menu bar at the top of this page.
The beauty of this exhibition is that our interstate members are able to take part and exhibit trees that otherwise would not have been seen.
I thank all our members who have offered trees for the exhibition and now extend a welcome to everybody to see the quality and variety of Australian native in this, the first Virtual Exhibition that the VNBC has held.
President, Victorian Native Bonsai Club
- Looking ahead to the rest of 2020
The Club’s February and March meetings got us off to a good start for 2020, in anticipation of an active and interesting year of bonsai. How the world changes!
We have not been able to conduct normal club meetings and workshops, of course. The proposed visit by Jennifer Price from USA has been cancelled for this year, although we hope to be able to reschedule her visit for later in 2021, trusting that all will well by that time.
The club’s future program remains under continuing review as the wider community health situation evolves. We will continue to update our club and program information to members and others interested in the club, as often as we can.
Please continue to check this website regularly for any updates and changes in our program which we may make over time.
Our best wishes to everyone in these difficult times, and if we are required to have a period of isolation at home, then what better way to use our time well, than to tend to our bonsai.
- Interested in becoming a member of VNBC?
Membership of the Victorian Native Bonsai Club is a great avenue for anyone who wants to develop their understanding and skills in growing bonsai using Australian native plant species.
Access to support, new ideas, knowledge of others, regular Club newsletters, a database of information, and much more, all come as benefits of club membership.
The Victorian Native Bonsai Club is keen to hear from you if you are interested in membership.
Just click on the “Joining” tab in the menu list, and follow the prompts.