Acquiring & Caring For BonsaiWritten by Sara Chute
Acquiring & Caring For Bonsai
Most bonsai trees sold at garden centers and nurseries are of excellent quality, but there are a few points to bear in mind when buying a new plant. Age and shape of tree General health Soil should be damp but not soggy, unless it has just been watered Leaves should look bright and healthy, not burnt around edges or spotty If buying a deciduous tree in winter, last year's growth should be smooth and plump, with no sign of bark wrinkling The tree should be steady in its container, which should have at least one drainage hole A white fungus in and around drainage hole is natural and harmless
Purchasing A Tree
When buying a tree from a store during summer, be sure to give it at least 2 weeks outside, avoiding heavy rain and high winds before displaying it indoors. If purchasing in winter, however, do not allow it to be exposed to frost for rest of season, as it will probably have begun to shoot. This is most important with deciduous trees, and while varieties of junipers are very hardy it is as well not to take any chances.
Most bonsai are hardy trees and shrubs whose natural habitat is out in open. They are not permanent houseplants; and even semi-tropical trees should be placed outside when weather permits. During summer plant must be able to carry out process of photosynthesis, and during winter it is resting and building up its strength for coming spring. Too long in a warm room will persuade it that spring has arrived early and it will start budding. If this happens more than once, tree will simply die of exhaustion.
Sunlight, especially ultra-violet ray, affects growth of trees. Therefore, except in special cases such as immediately after repotting, extensive trimming, etc, bonsai should be placed in a sunny location. Bright light will also work well but tree should not be placed more than 12" away from direct light source. An east, west or southern exposure works best. A northern exposure will require use of "grow lights" which should remain on up to 16 hours each day and lamp should not be more than 2 inches from top of tree. Incandescent light is too hot and will not provide various spectrum of light that is required to maintain your bonsai tree. If you do not have a window or light source that provides an east, west or southern exposure, be sure to select a bonsai tree that does well in lower lighting conditions.
Unlike a houseplant, bonsai trees use a "free draining" type of soil because their roots cannot tolerate "wet feet". In addition, they are grown in significantly less soil and, therefore require more watering. Factors such as tree location, temperature, lighting conditions, quantity of soil used, and changing seasons will determine frequency of watering. You can get to know when your tree needs to be watered by observing foliage, testing soil with your index finger just below surface, or just by weight of pot. (The drier tree, lighter it will feel.) To take guesswork out of watering, an inexpensive moisture meter which works very much like a thermometer comes in handy. Insert it into soil and movement of needle will tell you if it is time to water.
Rainwater is best for watering plants, but tap water that has stood for a few hours is adequate. In summer, trees should be watered in early morning or late afternoon to avoid midday heat. This will prevent leaves of finer bonsai from burning. In winter, water early to permit any excess to drain before night frost. Plunging pot into a bowl to soak is ideal for recently potted trees, small collections and for trees that have dried out. Be sure to drain properly, however!
All trees grow in more humid conditions than our homes, offices and dormitories. So what can we do to provide this essential humidity ? Misting tree is only beneficial for a short time, so what we recommend is to place tree on a humidity tray and add water to tray. As water in tray evaporates it creates a humid environment around tree 24 hours a day. When water in tray is gone, add more water. It's a good idea to separate pot from water in tray by adding some pebbles to bottom of tray. This will prevent any roots from sitting in water.
Finding The Value Of Precious Metal DollhousesWritten by Joan Bramsch
Finding The Value Of Precious Metal Dollhouses by Joan Bramsch copyright: 1999
From publication Antique Trader Weekly
The art of creating miniature scenes and rooms has been traced and documented to ancient Egyptian times, this is according to a member of Tiny Talk, an internet Newsgroup comprised of almost 400 miniaturists from around world, who exchange tips, swaps and mini help with each other. Several famous personalities have enjoyed collecting dollhouses, some of them to point of obsession. For example: in early 18th century, Princess Augusta Dorothea von Schwarzburg-Arnstadt actually bankrupted her husband's estate and died in debt to Catholic Church, all to make 'Mon Plaisir,' a recreation of an 18th century German Court (Classic Dolls Houses, Faith Eaton). Furnished dollhouses were also used in long ago times by mothers to teach their daughters how to run an acceptable household. And yet, miniatures started out as a serious adult pastime and weren't included as children's toys until pieces were available commercially and so, as with all things, history repeats itself. Miniatures and dollhouses are again considered very collectible adult toys.
In Victorian times, houses were made from wood, then cardboard houses became quite popular. Later in 20th century, metal dollhouses came into vogue. Marx, Wolverine and Cohn were among producers of most popular models.
Twentieth Century Classics Louis Marx & Co., Inc. began business after World War II, producing wind-up mechanical toys and metal trucks and cars. In 1949, company produced its first metal dollhouse. Featured in Sears Christmas catalog it was called 'Disney' house, so named because cartoon characters were festooned along nursery walls. The 'Disney' had five rooms, garage and patio, and was fully furnished and electrified for only $4.98. Value today is $75-$100. For over 20 years, Marx made metal dollhouses, often using same model year after year. Painted in different colors and architectural design, house had several interchangeable components which could be mixed and matched to create different styles or sizes. In this way, they met requirements of varied sale prices. The L-shaped ranch house was new in 1953 and sold in Sears Christmas catalog for $7.29 furnished. Value today is $70-$100, unfurnished; $125- $150, furnished.
Marx's most expensive house appeared in 1962 Sears catalog. It featured dormer windows, an inside staircase, a ringing doorbell, lighting, a 'Florida' room complete with jalousie window, awnings, shutters and painted-on flower filled window boxes beneath front windows, plus complete furnishings --all for $15.88. Boy, weren't those days? Present value is $100 plus.