Club Meetings

The club meets on the second Tuesday of each month, other than January, at 7:30pm at the Harry Atkinson Centre, in the Coburg Lake Reserve, off Lake Grove and Gaffney Street, Coburg.

Saturday morning workshops for members are held approximately every two months at the same venue.

Latest from our Club Meetings

  • September Club Meeting Report

    The September meeting of VNBC was a series of photo presentations and tree work to bring to life all about the inspirations we find when we look at trees in some of their natural settings, and the possibilities of translating these inspirations into the bonsai which we develop.

    Quentin and Marcela each showed a series of photos of trees of different species in natural or wild settings, and then proceeded to work on trees to show their interpretation of using the inspiration from these trees in developing new bonsai.

    Here is a eucalypt worth developing with ideas from nature
    Hard at work on trees, to reflect the inspirations from trees in nature

    While those two worked on their trees, other examples of inspiring trees in nature, and their links to bonsai being developed, were shown by Rod and Kevin.

  • March Club Meeting Report

    The March club meeting featured an excellent presentation by Mike Simonetto titled Bonsai – Propagation to “Finished”. This was a comprehensive presentation and discussion ranging from initial establishment of plants, from seed or other stock, through the early development and training stages, management of tree growth in the ground and in pots, and with a strong focus on development of style, new leaders for the trees, and encouraging the formation of good trunk taper. As in all presentations by experienced growers, there is always something for everyone to learn and to think about in their own development of bonsai, and Mike certainly gave us plenty of ideas and material for thought.

    The display table was well stocked on the night, with quite a number of interesting trees presented and highlighted in discussion. The discussion of the display trees also developed some thoughts around species naming, and the challenges presented by continuing changes in the botanical names of quite a few of the Australian native species we have been using as bonsai. Now that’s a field for continuing future debate and occasional frustration!!

  • November Club Meeting Report – Acacia Night

    A night focused on Acacias – what a topic to dip our toes into! With nearly 1000 species of Acacia found across Australia, there is an extensive range of possibilities for bonsai, many of which we only dream about. There is just so much potential bonsai material amongst the Acacias that we can only report on experience and knowledge relating to a small proportion of the range of species.

    The presentations and demonstrations on the night, and the trees on display, provided an interesting grounding in growing Acacias as bonsai. Presentations by Kevin and Quentin covered the essentials of Acacia features, the differences found between species in growth habits, leaves (including the differences true bipinnate leaves, phyllodes and cladodes) and flower structures, and the natural and cultivation characteristics of a number of the species which club members are growing as bonsai. Quentin provided a fascinating demonstration of what can be done with a young untrained Acacia howittii grown in an ornamental container, converting a plant with a mass of foliage into one where the interesting trunk will have much more prominence, and not be obscured by excessive crown growth.

    Acacia howittii, Sticky Wattle “Green Wave”, before treatment

    Sticky Wattle with most foliage and several branches removed, trunk exposed, and ready for next growth phase.

    Several examples of wattles being grown as bonsai were reviewed, along with information about their natural growth characteristics and their appearance in the wild.

    Acacia pinguifolia, Fat Leaf Wattle

    Acacia baileyana, Cootamundra Wattle

    Acacia mucronata, Variable Sallow Wattle

    Acacia saligna “Springtime Cascade”

    Acacia redolens, Vanilla Wattle

    Some of the other trees on the display table included the following:

    Acacia melanoxylon, Blackwood Wattle, 3 years old

    Acacia howittii, Sticky Wattle “Green Wave”

    Acacia howittii, Sticky Wattle “Green Wave”

    Leptospermum petersonii, Lemon Scented Tea Tree

    Homoranthus flavescens in flower “Floating Clouds”

    Part of the display table

    Val outlines the development of a River Red Gum collected in 2018

  • October 2018 Meeting Report

    The AGM meeting for the VNBC was a good opportunity for the club to review what has happened over the past year, and to give some thought to the coming year as well. The President’s Report highlighted the range of interesting presentations and demonstrations at club meetings and workshops over the year, including three demonstrations under the AABC Visiting Tutor Program, and other specialist presenters as well. Other highlights for the year included the successful exhibition and sales weekend in April, the various workshops and critique sessions, and the pottery classes held as part of a couple of the Saturday workshops. 

    The Club Special Recognition Award was presented to Gerard Schoofs, for his continuing ready support to the club through a wide range of activities, and the Encouragement Award was presented to Matt Hudson, to recognize his work in development of Australian native species as Bonsai over the past year.

    The Committee for 2018-19 consists of President – Quentin Valentine, Vice President – Kevin Ritchie, Secretary – Marcela Ferriera, Treasurer – Paul Weir, and Committee Members – Kerry Wallace and Matt Hudson.

    With the completion of AGM formalities, the remainder of the night consisted of a demonstration of deadwood bending, and a review of the progress in development of several trees which had been the subject of initial work as part of various demonstrations at previous club meetings.

    The deadwood bending demonstration on a small Leptospermum juniperinum, which had a long-dead previous branch. This was wired, soaked in wet coverings for a few days prior to the night, and then unwrapped and heated with a blowtorch, followed by bending pressure to give the branch some more interesting movement.

    Unwrapping prior to heating

    Heating the dead wood

    The finished product

    These other trees from previous club demonstrations included:

    Group planting of Moonah (Melaleuca lanceolata), first assembled at the National Symposium on Australian Natives as Bonsai, in Melbourne, 2015, with subsequent additional work at a club meeting.

    From this….

    … to this, in 3 years.

    Leptospermum laevigatum, Coastal Tea Tree, developed at the club’s AGM 2 years ago, in 2016.

    Two years to develop to this (2018)….

    ….from this (2016)

    And also, a Burgan dug from the wild, and remodeled by Albert Garcia during his visit early this year.

    As worked on by Albert in February 2018

    And now with 8 months growth


  • September 2018 Club Meeting Report, celebrating 5 years of VNBC

    The 5th birthday night for the club since its formation – a chance to celebrate the continuing development of the club and its programs! 🎉

    This club meeting featured a workshop and critique night, giving the opportunity for members to work on their trees in a group context, with plenty of advice and suggestions available, and the chance to have trees discussed by the group for further input of a range of ideas. These sessions always seem to attract plenty of interest and active discussion, and this night was no exception.

    Always plenty of work being done by members

    Display table trees which were discussed on the night….

    Atherosperma moschatum, Sassafras

    Acacia pravissima, Ovens Wattle

    Callistemon brachyeandrys, Prickly Bottlebrush

    Kunzea ambigua, Tick Bush

    And apologies, but I missed getting a photo of Adrian’s Adenanthos sericeus (Woolly Bush)

  • August 2018 Meeting Report

    The Club’s August meeting featured a fascinating presentation by Ruth McLucas on her experience with Grevilleas as bonsai. Ruth is an experienced and thoughtful bonsai artist, with her knowledge and expertise covering a wide range of species, both exotic and native, over quite a few years!

    And what a good night it was.

    Grevilleas come in an extraordinary range of plant forms, leaf structures, flowers, and habitats, with continual development of new varieties by the nursery industry across Australia. The possibilities of growing Grevilleas as bonsai seem endless, but it is not one of the most frequently-used plants in the bonsai world.

    Ruth’s presentation, accompanied by a great selection of photos, covered all the essentials for using Grevilleas as bonsai. Ruth discussed the wide variety of flower types, the extensive foliage variations, and the growth habits which can be found in this genus. From there, Ruth expanded the discussion into the essential growing conditions for Grevilleas, and the pruning and wiring techniques which are appropriate for these plants. Repotting and watering requirements were outlined, and then examples of a number of Ruth’s favourites, from relatively rare species to readily available varieties, were highlighted.

    This was a night which stimulated many ideas for bonsai, and inspired a number of members who hadn’t previously used many (or any) Grevilleas to broaden their horizons. Many thanks to Ruth for sharing her inspiration and knowledge.

    And just some of the trees on the display table…...

    Grevillea “Clearview David”

    Acacia cardiophylla, Wyalong Wattle

    Sannantha virgata

  • July Meeting Report

    This meeting featured an excellent presentation by Neil Padbury under the AABC Visiting Tutor Program. With his extensive experience in field-growing trees for bonsai stock, Neil’s more recent trials of growing Australian natives as field-grown stock was of much interest to members.

    Neil, with Allocasuarina

    Neil outlined his approach to growing several species which he had grown for up to three years in open soil situations, prior to moving them into large containers for further development. The species involved were various Banksias, Leptospermum (“Neil’s Winner”, from Great Ocean Road area), Melaleuca teretifolia, and Eucalyptus camaldulensis.

    Banksia integrifolia, not field-grown

    The presentation covered the growth rate differences of plant trunks (often not much difference) between field-grown and pot-grown trees, timing of transplanting, fertilizer use, and management of roots in transplanting from field to pots.

    Show and Tell session.

    Neil also talked through a couple of other trees which he placed on the display table. These were:

    Allocasuarina sp. (Eastern Victoria origin)

    Calytrix tetragona, Fringe Myrtle

    Amongst the other trees on the display table were the following:


    Leptospermum sp, Tea Tree

    Leptospermum rupestre, Alpine Tea Tree

    Banksia marginata, Silver Banksia

    Banksia serrata, Saw Banksia, or Old Man Banksia

  • June 2018 Meeting Report

    A Workshop and Critique night for the June meeting – just the thing for the first meeting in winter, with a good number of members present.  With only a couple of trees on the display table, but plenty of trees being worked on, it was quickly down to business this month.

    The display table trees were a Kunzea phylicoides, Burgan, which came from wild stock and which had been developed in workshop sessions with Hugh Grant last month, and a Leptospermum brachyandrum, Silver Weeping Tea Tree.

    Kunzea phylicoides, Burgan

    Leptospermum brachyandrum, Silver Weeping Tea Tree

    A couple of Marg’s pots were held up for discussion first, along with several of the pots made by members under Marg’s tuition at the recent Saturday workshop.  Plenty of discussion as to the best tree possibilities for the two pots reviewed, and this session, as always, generated quite a few interesting ideas in relation to size, shape, depth, colour and finish of the pots.

    The Show and Tell / Critique session followed, with a number of plants brought up for discussion, ideas and input for their future development.

    First up was a Leptospermum laevigatum, which had its trunk heavily wired and bent quite drastically, as an experiment to see how the trunk would develop as the wire became incorporated into the trunk as it thickened up over time.

    Leptospermum laevigatum, Coastal Tea Tree

    Second tree was Leptospermum petersonii, always a good tree to develop as a bonsai. This tree has been 7 months in training, but has great promise, with its excellent bark, good responsiveness to pinching and pruning, and will be most interesting small tree with a compact crown.

    Leptospermum petersonii, Lemon Scented Tea Tree

    The third tree for review was a Banksia marginata, with a broad agreement as to needing a reduction in height to get better overall balance as it develops. The tree came back later in the night with much of the leading trunk and crown removed.

    Banksia marginata, Silver Banksia

    A much older Banksia serrata was then brought up for discussion, having previously been cut back from being a much taller tree. This tree generated plenty of discussion as to branch distribution, tree height, and leaf development.

    Banksia serrata, Saw Banksia, or Old Man Banksia

    A couple of groups of trees were brought up, the first being Melaleuca sp (Mel. armillaris?), which were seedlings from 2014, and showed considerable development since then. A few ideas as to the best pot, and a couple of thoughts about branch placements, but this was a great group planting showing considerable potential.

    Melaleuca sp group

    Another tree reviewed was a Melaleuca ericifolia, which has been allowed to develop with a number of new shoots arising from the roots around the base of the tree. This has been worked on using a “break and tear” approach to branch removal, to help develop a much more informal and natural wild feeling to this tree.

    Melaleuca ericifolia, Swamp Paperbark

    Mel. ericifolia before crown reduction

    Banksia integrifolia was an older tree which came from another grower’s collection, and which would be expected to benefit from repotting and significant work on its branch structure and foliage pads.

    Banksia integrifolia, Coast Banksia

  • May 2018 Meeting Report

    The Club’s May Meeting, with Hugh Grant as the guest presenter, was a quite outstanding night for members, with an excellent demonstration and discussion by Hugh, a great range of trees on display, including several which had been developed in a workshop with Hugh on the previous weekend.

    Hugh used a locally-collected Kunzea ericoides, or Burgan, which had been dug in 2017, to demonstrate the development of a multi-trunk tree. The presentation included extensive discussion of the basics of decision-making in working with this type of plant material, and demonstrated how we can work with the particular characteristics of a particular species, while still approaching each tree as an individual. Hugh provided a fascinating range of thinking process, including especially using art and design principles together to suggest the effects of all of the influences of age, species and environment, without just attempting to give the appearance of an “old tree”.

    This was a fascinating demonstration night, and combined with his specialist input to workshops with club members, Hugh’s artistry and skills were highly appreciated by the members of the Victorian Native Bonsai Club.

    Hugh discusses the tree and his approach to developing it as a bonsai

    A steady process of branch selection and detailed wiring

    Kunzea ericoides transformed

    Trees on the display table which had come from workshops with Hugh included the following.


    Melaleuca bracteata

    Leptospermum lanigerum, Woolly Tea Tree

    Eucalyptus sp.

    Melaleuca ericifolia, Swamp Paperbark

    Other trees on display included:

    Acacia howittii, Sticky Wattle

    Eucalyptus melliodora, Yellow Box

    Microstrobos fitzgeraldii, Strawberry Pine

    Sannantha virgata,

    Baeckia brevifolia, Short Leaf Honey Myrtle




  • April 2018 Meeting Report

    The April meeting was very good night of looking again at the basics of growing bonsai. Gerard Schoofs gave an excellent presentation, with demonstration and plenty of discussion, covering all of the essentials for growing bonsai – pots, potting mixes and their essential components, watering practices, repotting, fertilizers, and wiring. The presentation included a demonstration repotting of a Leptospermum lanigerum (Woolly Tea Tree), which helped illustrate all of the essentials covered by Gerard in his pictures and talking. This was an excellent session to review and reconsider how we approach establishment and development of our native species Bonsai.

    Gerard with Leptospermum lanigerum demonstration tree

    Root-pruning and repotting of Tea Tree nearly completed

    We also had a good range of trees on the display table, and a “Show and Tell” session including the following trees.

    Quentin discusses Peter’s Green Island Fig

    Melaleuca linariifolia, “Snow in Summer”, showing good crown development after cutting back last November

    Strawberry Pine repotted last year after a long period in a hanging basket

    Acacia mucronata, Variable Sallow Wattle, or Narrow-leaved Wattle

    Grevillea “Pink Pearl”

    Leptospermum petersonii, Lemon Scented Tea Tree