December 2012


December 2012, Vol. 38, Issue 12

Award winning Sierra Juniper collected and styled by Larry White.
Congratulations Larry on winning Best Conifer and Best in Show at the 2012 GSBF Convention!


  • President’s message from Larry White
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Editor’s Note
  • Midori Member Profile
  • November Meeting Recap
  • Midori Member Projects
  • Midori Member Pictures
  • Midori Club Calendar

President’s Message

It’s hard to believe it’s already December! I’ve been spending a lot of time on my trees recently. First, it was getting all my display trees ready for our annual show, then right after that I was getting trees ready for the convention displays. After the convention it was time to work on some trees that needed attention. I’ve been bringing them into my studio in the evening. It’s really not hard for me to put 10 to 40 hours in on a tree. Once I start working on one, I stick with that tree until it gets completed. As most of you know, I’m a stickler for details, and I love to wire trees.

This month’s program is our Holiday Potluck, Election, and Auction. We passed around a potluck signup sheet, but if you didn’t sign up, just bring in your favorite dish. It looks like most categories are covered. Please note that the meeting will start at 6:00PM. Please bring in your potluck item and your auction donations by 6:00PM. We’d like to start the festivities at 6:30PM. After we eat, we’ll have the election of club officers, then right into the auction. Please bring your own table setting for the potluck. Also, don’t forget a serving utensil for your potluck item.

The auction is one of Midori’s main fundraisers and is based on donations from Midori members. Please look over you bonsai stuff and see what you can donate to the auction. 100% of the auction proceeds go to the Midori general fund. Don’t forget to bring your checkbook. You’ll also be able to pay your 2013 dues at the auction. The auction is always a fun time!

– Larry White


J T’s Tree Tips

This month we have our Christmas Dinner and club auction so bring in your access trees, pots and other bonsai stuff.   Be as generous as you can with your donation and bidding.  It helps the club, which comes right back to help you.  We have a great opportunity to get new material to work on. And as a bonus, it will help you concentrate on your keepers and give others a chance to work on new material.

Winter is a great time to wire and style your junipers and pines.  You can clean out the crotches and excess foliage to let the Sun into the interior of the tree.  Hardened pine needles can be thinned out without harm to the tree. Multiple buds from this summer’s candle pruning should be reduced to two.   Remember that you need to stimulate new budding close in to keep the tree healthy, happy and compact.  It allows light in and also gives you room to apply wire.

Strip the remaining leaves off your deciduous trees.  The next two months will see almost all of the leaves down from your surrounding landscape trees as well.  Get them off your bonsai.  You don’t need or want hiding places for over wintering bugs and slugs.  It is always a mess this time of year and I have to clean them up and get the weeds, which never stop, out of my pots.

If you cut back when you strip off the leaves, the shoot shouldn’t bleed.  If the wound does drip sap excessively you should wait until late winter to cut back when you transplant. Regardless, it’s a good time to study the future of your trees and decide which branches to eliminate and which to keep.  You can see if your wires are OK or too tight and remove any that are biting in.  It’s much easier to style and wire deciduous trees when they are free of foliage.  Take advantage of this condition and wire branches into position.  Leave a little stub when cutting back at this time of year.  Exercising the limbs before you wire and bend them can help prevent the branches from breaking as easily.  When you’ve finished wiring, try spraying Cloud Cover® or Anti-Stress 2000® to seal up cracks and give it some cold protection.  Put a red tag or label in the soil to indicate a wired tree so you will watch it for tightness every time you go by it.

Rotate your trees.  Give all sides access to the Sun. The Sun is very low on the horizon and will give you one-sided growth if you don’t turn the trees.   Watering is important especially to evergreens because the foliage mass acts as an umbrella just like in large trees in Nature and sheds the water out to the drip line.  In our case the drip line is outside the perimeter of the pot.  So make sure you check your plants water needs regularly.  Put a block of wood under one side of your pot to help drain excess water.  Alternate the block from side to side every other week.

If you haven’t done it yet, put super phosphate on the soil.  But don’t forget that some nitrogen is needed to enable the other components to work. Some fish emulsion or cottonseed meal should be enough.   Pay attention to any trees that have young growth pushing or are semi-tropical varieties. Again, the freezing cold weather may cause some damage, so protect them.

Dormant spray.  Start it now (Thanksgiving and Christmas).   I like to spray the foliage and trunks with Ultra Fine® oil or a fixed copper spray like Microcop® or Bordeaux® dormant spray for peach leaf curl prone plants like, stone fruits and pomegranate as well as on deciduous trees.  A few years ago, Barry Coate thought very highly of using the oils as a preventative measure.  Separately, you can use lime sulfur (Orthorix ®) except on Ume (flowering apricot).  I spray three times: at Thanksgiving, New Year and Valentine’s Day just before bud breaking. (P.S.  Lime sulfur will turn your copper wire black but shouldn’t hurt the tree.)  Do your spraying now and you won’t have as many problems later.

Mix your soils and clean your pots for transplant season next year.  Ask Santa (Seiji), for a few bags of akadama.  Gear up for transplant season right after New Year’s Day.

Enjoy the Holidays.

– John Thompson


Editor’s Note

Just in case you haven’t heard it enough times already, I’m still looking to feature member’s trees, either just seasonal shots, or projects, for the newsletter. We’re off to a great start with this month’s issue, we have a project tree and some other member photos. Taking pictures of your trees in any state is a great way to get a new perspective on your trees, and sharing them will help other’s learn from what you’re doing as well. Don’t think you’re your trees need to be looking like they’re ready for the Kokufu-ten before you take some pictures—just get out there and start shooting!
Speaking of bonsai exhibitions in Japan, I was lucky enough to be in Japan earlier in November and make it to the Taikan-ten, one of the biggest bonsai shows which is held each year in Kyoto. It was my first time going to an exhibition in Japan, and I have to say that it was even more amazing than I would have imagined. After seeing that show, I think that every bonsai enthusiast should go see one of the big shows in Japan at least once in their life. Just looking at pictures of the trees doesn’t even come close to what it’s like to see them in person. That being said, I thought I’d share some of the pictures I took. Click on any of the pictures to see them in full screen. Of course there were some great pines.

Japanese Black Pine

Japanese Five Needle Pine. It was so massive I couldn’t get the entire thing in frame!

Another Japanese Five Needle Pine

Japanese Black Pine with interesting split trunk

Close up on the split trunk. Notice the live vein on the underside of the deadwood.

Insanely massive Japanese Black Pine!

There were some amazing fruiting trees.I don’t even know what most of these are! Some really nice shohin. Some of the accents were also really interesting. And lastly, a few remarkable suiseki. Hope this has inspired some of you who haven’t been to Japan to seriously start considering it. The pictures here are probably only about 1% of the trees that were there, and some of the best trees I didn’t even take pictures of because I was too stunned to even be able to operate the camera! You really have to go see them in person. – Adam Butterfield


Midori Member Profile

This Month: Jim Wallace

1)     Name and your age?

Jim Wallace, 50

2)     How did you get involved with bonsai?

Following the release of Karate Kid, in 1984 I started seeing “mall bonsai” around my home in New Jersey. The form, scale and the fact that they were real living trees intrigued me.  I subsequently purchased and immediately killed a few of these kiosk specimens.

In 1990 I came across and bought Peter Chan’s book – Bonsai: The Art of Growing and Keeping Miniature Trees,which filled me in on how to properly care for bonsai.  I began collecting trees from the wooded areas around my home and quickly killed those as well. When Peter Chan said you had to water the trees every day, he meant it!

3)     How long have you been doing bonsai?

Not including my failed attempts at bonsai described above, I have been “doing” bonsai for two years now.

4)     How many bonsai do you have?

About 20, all of which are pre-bonsai.  I have a couple of boxwoods, several junipers a few elms and a variety of others.

5)     What is your favorite specimen?

From the perspective of what I like to view most, I’d have to say Acer palmatum.  I love the dramatic changes that each season brings to maples. What I like to work with the most are forgiving species, so far I haven’t been able to kill a boxwood or cotoneaster.

6)     What is your favorite bonsai style?

Formal upright and wind swept.

7)     Who is your favorite bonsai artist?

John Naka’s body of work was amazing and his books, including the sketchbook, really changed the way I view and approach bonsai.

One other favorite artist happens to be a member of Midori.  On my first visit to the bonsai collection at Lake Merritt one of the trees I spent the most time checking out and photographing was a formal upright redwood.  I found out after joining Midori that this tree was contributed to the collection by Seiji.

8)     How much time are you spending on your bonsai in a week?

Presently, just enough to keep my trees watered, fertilized and roughly pruned.  I’m looking forward to putting in more styling and wiring time in the years to come.

9)     What is your special skill in bonsai?

Maintaining the Midori website ; )  I can’t say that I have any real bonsai skill… yet.

10)   How many yamadori (collected trees) do you have?

Three — all collected on fascinating adventures around my yard.  I have a redwood, a black walnut and a sugar gum.  Collecting trees is also something that I am looking forward to in my bonsai career.  I will definitely want to make sure that I have the required skills to dig out and maintain a yamadori before I do any real collecting though.

Note to Midori members:

If you happen to be heading out on a collecting adventure, be sure to invite me. It seems like observing would be the best way to learn.  Also, I’d love to take photos for the website.

11)   Why are you doing bonsai, what does bonsai mean to you?

I enjoy doing creative things, I am a video game producer by trade, and I have always loved trees.  As a kid I hung a swing from a weeping willow, carved my initials into a white birch, swatted acorns that fell from a giant oak with my tennis racquet and buried my family dog by a pine.  I suppose bonsai connects me to all of that and I also find it extremely therapeutic.

12)   Any other information?

I just want to say that I really enjoy Midori and look forward to continuing to improve the website.

Also, let me know when you are doing anything cool that is bonsai related.  It would be great to get more photos of member projects and bonsai related activities on the site.

November Meeting Recap

Sho Chiku Bai demo by Juan Cruz

In various forms of art in Japan, you can find Sho Chiku Bai. Cosisting of three elements, Sho (matsu or pine), Chiku (take or bamboo) and Bai (ume or plum) collectively there are also known as “the three friends of winter.” Plantings or flower arrangements with cuttings of these three plants are often used as decorations around the new year. Together, all three are auspicious symbols as they flourish during the winter months when all other plants wither or go dormant. Here’s a little more info here:

It sure was a great little demo. Juan even brought in a kokedama (moss-ball) that he made with a maple sapling. Several members were interested in possibly making their own kokedama, so I thought I’d share a link to a video where they make some. It’s all in Japanese, but you can get the idea. Check it out here:

Beginning of the lecture

The Sho (pine)…in this case a nice little five needle pine.

Prepping the pine.

Working the Bai (plum)…a nice little ume.

And the Chiku (bamboo)…

Adding some flowers as another color element.

Putting everything together.

Add a little moss and it’s done.

The finished planting next to a kokedama (moss-ball) that Juan made for the auction.

Another shot of the finished arrangement.

The winner examining his prize with Jan.

Midori Member Projects

Windswept San Jose Juniper by Larry White

I’m very pleased to present our very first Midori Member Project segment of our newsletter. Here are some nice before and after shots from Larry.

Before: somewhere around the back side

Before: top view

After the initial cleanup: front

After the initial cleanup: back

Before: somewhere around the front side

After wiring and styling: the front

After wiring and styling: the back/alternate front

Midori Member Pictures

I put a call out for fall color photos for this month’s newsletter, and I got a great couple of pictures once again, from our own Larry White.

And to close this month’s newsletter off, we have a really cute, really tiny planting from Nancy Schramm. She says: “The back story is that the Friday morning of the GSBF convention in Sacramento , things were pretty quiet first thing in the vendor area. I decided I needed to entertain myself, so I wandered around and found myself buying some itty-bitty pots from Jim Barrett. Took them back and felt compelled to put something in them, and dug out some liverwort from another container. When I saw my ‘creation’, I put it in the palm of my hand, showed Kora, and told her “Here is a companion plant for your companion plants!” She was tickled, took these pictures, and emailed them to me. So here you are.”

Midori Club Calendar

December 6th – Holiday Party and Auction!

Formal Tree Display – No tree display this month

Refreshments/Set-up – Everyone

Bring a dish to share for our annual potluck. Even if you didn’t sign-up to bring a dish, feel free to bring your favorite appetizer, salad, main dish, dessert, or whatever. Please remember to bring your own set of plates and utensils, and a serving spoon for your potluck items. Most importantly, bring some bonsai related items for the auction! Trees, pots, tools, soil, whatever you feel like you can part with. Remember that all the donations go to benefit the club, so help out the club and other members by bringing in some good stuff!

December 20th – General Workshop

Grab bring a tree or two and come on down! It’s a great time to work pines and junipers right now, so bring in any trees you might want to get some help with.

Refreshments and Set-Up/Clean-Up Duties!!!

Please check the above chart to see if it is your turn to bring refreshments to the General Meeting on the First Thursday of each month.Please show up ½ hour early to help with the set-up of the meeting and stay to help clean up afterward (This includes both the First & Third Thursday meetings). If you can’t be at the meeting, please check your club member roster and find a substitute.

We are counting on you!

– Larry White




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