Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sydney Bonsai Spectacular 2013

I was really happy to learn that Sydney Bonsai Spectacular is happening again. So far, it took place only once in 2011 and it was much better than your average local bonsai club show. At this point, Australia can’t have a national exhibition because of quarantine restrictions between the states. An event like Sydney Bonsai Spectacular is the closest thing we have to the national exhibition. This time, I anticipated it to be just like the last one if not better. To my regret the standard of bonsai this year was less impressive, but the suiseki display was a little better. Images above show some of the trees I liked. All three of them have pleasing shapes, but require further refinement.
I know that bonsai enthusiasts in Sydney have some really good trees, but we don’t see them at our bonsai exhibitions. The only way to encourage people to come forward with their best trees is to make it a competition for an attractive price. It can be a prestigious trophy, cash or something else.
As for the suiseki, Sydney Bonsai Spectacular had a few interesting ones (see images below). Some of them featured fine daizas or suibans. Some had faults in their display, but suitable display accessories can be hard to find.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Pest of the month: Asian Woolly Hackberry Aphid

Several years ago, one of the members of my bonsai club showed me a bonsai infested with woolly aphids. I couldn’t investigate what species it was at that time, but last month I have come across some woolly aphids on Chinese Hackberry (Celtis sinensis) (images above). This time I had the opportunity to identify the species. Images below show microscope sild specimens of winged and wingless adults, which have to be prepared for species identification. It turned out to be the Asian Woolly Hackberry Aphid (Shivaphis celti), an exotic species recently introduced to Australia. Woolly aphids such as Asian Woolly Hackberry Aphid can be a real nuisance. They quickly multiply and draw large amounts of plant sap to secrete a sugary substance or honeydew and deposit it on the plant’s surface. It is intended as ant food in exchange for protection ants provide to the aphids. However, in the absence of ants honeydew gets infected with sooty mould fungus, which blackens the leaves. Don’t let it happen and kill woolly aphids with an insecticide as soon as you notice them on your bonsai.