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

  • Meeting Report – Tuesday 11th February

    The February Club Meeting featured a comprehensive presentation by Annalea Smith, who provided an in-depth look at the species she selects and the techniques she uses when developing Australian native plants as bonsai.

    Annalea works with a wide range of species, and has trouble resisting new finds in nurseries, as well as continuing to work with a range of her favorites, including Eucalypts, Acacias, Leptospermums, Melaleucas, Callistemons and many more.

    Most of the plants Annalea grows are tubed stock, so she works with them from their very earliest stages of growth, with root pruning, repotting, pruning and wiring as early as possible and frequently as they continue to grow, to encourage them to develop some of the special characteristics to use for future bonsai.

    The success of her approach is very evident in the rapid development of interesting trunks and branching frameworks, so that by the age of 6 years, most of her trees have an excellent structure as good bonsai.

    Annalea with several of the trees used in her presentation
    6-year old trees trained from their earliest lives

    And from the Club display table that night….

    Eucalyptus nicholli, Willow Leaf Peppermint
    Leptospermum scoparium, “Rocky Rambler”
    Callistemon sieberi, River Bottlebrush
    Melaleuca styphelioides, Prickly Paperbark, from the club dig day in 2019
    Ficus microcarpa, and Metrosideros

  • Meeting Report – 10 December 2019

    The final club meeting for 2019 – a celebration of the year’s activities, a social evening as a club breakup for the end of the year, and a critique of a number of trees and their associated containers. What a good evening it was to round off the year.

    Always a good feast at the end of year celebration

    There was a good range of very interesting display trees presented on the night, and an active review discussion on quite a few trees which were brought forward for critique.

    Graptophyllum excelsium – Scarlet Fuchsia
    Some of the smaller trees on display

    The critique session of trees and containers covered quite a range of interesting bonsai. The photos below show some of the trees discussed, and we will be looking forward to seeing the continuing development of these, and the choices made in future containers.

    Eucalyptus mannifera – Brittle Gum, ready for intensive work on the crown
    Planted in a hollowed-out old burl from a long-dead River Red Gum tree.
    Leptospermum petersonii – Lemon Scented Tea Tree, in shallow tray
    Callitris glaucophylla – White Cypress Pine
    Leptospermum laevigatum – Coastal Tea Tree, falling off a cliff
    Leptospermum laevigatum – Coastal Tea Tree

    And some other creative container ideas……..

  • Meeting Report – November 2019

    Despite the chill of an unseasonably cold Spring day, a good number of members came along for the workshop and critique night to work on trees and to take part in the review and development of several trees brought up for discussion.

    Plants on the display table included the following:

    Melaleuca styphelioides, Prickly Paperbark
    Kunzea peduncularis, Burgan, windswept style developed at the October club meeting
    Allocasuarina torulosa, Rose Sheoak

    Several trees were brought up by members for critique and assistance with styling work, while others continued working on their trees.

    Leptospermum lanigerum, Woolly Tea Tree, under review
    Another Leptospermum lanigerum, originally from Tasmania
    Banksia serrata, Saw Banksia – What to do with this one?
    Now that starts to look different, and great potential.
    Acacia howittii, Sticky Wattle, needs a lot of foliage removed so that the main structure can be developed
    Many Australian native species can be developed into interesting small bonsai within a couple of years.

    The club also had a look at possible use of old wood burls as tree containers, and a new turntable being developed by Leigh.

    Hollowed wood burl, and a new turntable for working on trees.

  • 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