December 2013


December 2013, Vol. 39, Issue 12



  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Midori Member Profile
  • November Meeting Recap
  • December Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

Presidents Message

JT Picture

The board and I wish you a very happy holiday this year.  I hope you all feel that you have improved your bonsai skills and are looking forward to getting some new techniques that will help you make even better bonsai.

We have a good selection of programs planned for this coming year.  Thank you all for your input;  we’ve tried to fulfill as many requests as we could this year.  We will cover grafting with Boon, shohin with Juan, windswept with Mehrdad, soil, fertilizer and water with JT, transplanting and tree improvement and much more.   Should be a great year. Don’t miss it.

This month we have our Club election, Christmas Dinner (I’m really looking forward to all the goodies you are bringing), and the Club auction so bring in your excess trees, pots and other cool bonsai stuff (and your checkbook).   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.  It’s also a great opportunity to pay dues ($30 single, $40 Family) with your auction purchases.  Two birds with one stone.

This is also the time for the Clubs election of officers and board members.  On the docket are some familiar names.
President:  John Thompson (JT)
VP:  Jack Christiansen
Secretary:  Jennifer Beck
Treasurer:  Debe Kahn
Board Members:
Ray Stagner – Facilities
John Thompson – Pat Gee Fund
Gerry Fields – Membership
Jim Wallace – Website
Adam Butterfield – Newsletter

J T’S Tree Tips

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, its 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.  Its 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 Valentines 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 for a few bags of akadama.  Gear up for transplant season right after New Years Day.

Enjoy the Holidays.

Midori Member Profile

This month: Danny Powell

How did you get involved with bonsai?

I’m not sure, I got one of Colin Lewis’ books about 10 years ago and enjoyed it, but didn’t start getting serious and killing trees until about 5 years ago.

How long have you been doing bonsai?

A little over 5 years now

How many bonsai do you have?

I don’t have anything I would call bonsai, but I have over 250 trees (if you count seedlings) that may eventually become bonsai.

What is your favorite specimen?

My current favorite is a nice cork bark elm I’m working on developing branches for, but a newly collected Sierra Juniper may pass that soon.

What is your favorite bonsai style?


Who is your favorite bonsai artist?

Ryan Neil

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

About 10 hours on average.

What is your special skill in bonsai?

I’m still working on trying to not kill things, I’ll let you know when I get a special skill.

How many yamadori (collected trees) do you have?

I have around 15, most of which I’ve collected myself.

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

I love the combination of both artistic and technical skill.  Having to have horticultural skill and knowledge combined with an artistic aspect gets both sides of the brain working which I enjoy.

November Meeting Recap

We had a really great meeting last month. For those of you who missed it, we had the pleasure of hosting Valerie Monroe for a very informative talk about pot selection. Here’s a few photos from the meeting.

December Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

December 5th – Midori Annual Potluck Dinner and Auction!

On December 5th is our Annual Potluck Dinner and Auction with setup between 6 and 6:30 p.m.  Dinner will start at 6:30 p.m.

What to bring for dinner:
Potluck dish to serve 10 people or more and serving utensils
Plate, knife and fork, glass and napkin

Following dinner will be the Board Member Election and immediately following the Annual Auction will begin.

What to bring for auction:
Anything bonsai related.

This is the main club fundraiser and all material is 100% donated to club. All payments for auction items are either in cash or by check.  No credit card processing.

The Club will also take this opportunity to collect dues at this meeting.

See you at the meeting!

– Jennifer Beck

Northern California Bonsai Events

December 7, 2013, Fresno, California

Fresno Bonsai Society: 5th Annual Bonsai Yard Sale, 736 West Browning Avenue. Hours: 9 AM – 2 PM. Pre-bonsai, bonsai, pots, accent plants, stones, books and all things bonsai. Anyone is welcome to buy or sell. Contact Ralph Schroeder for more information at





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