December 2015


December 2015, Vol. 41, Issue 12



  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Editor’s Note
  • December Meeting Topics & Club Calendar
  • 2015 Meeting Schedule
  • Northern California Bonsai Events

Presidents MessageIMG_3634

    As I sit down to write this article after probably the most coldest morning we’ve experienced so far this year, it reminds me of how lucky we are to live in the Bay Area.  It’s not unusual for many through out the country to lose a large portion of their bonsai tree outdoors when temperatures get close to zero.

Protection is a big consideration in other parts of the country and even for us Bay Area folks, we still need to shelter various trees that border on tropical areas and especially the smaller pots with trees that only have minimal soil volume.  We can never be too cautious with mother nature and the ramifications it can have on our trees.

As we reach the conclusion of this year, December is still a very important month for our club.  Our Christmas Party and large fund raiser is just days away (Dec. 3rd ).  It’s always a joy to sit down and share a beautiful meal together with all the trimmings and appreciate the variety of food we see every year with our Christmas Potluck.  I’m sure everyone will be there and enjoy each others association with our many family members. Keep in mind we ask that everyone bring their own plates and utensils that evening and glasses for wine and champagne.  Water and soft drinks will be provided.

Now for ourFund Raiser, this will begin after our meal and the nomination of our new officers and board members for this coming year.  Keep in mind that this open auction is the biggest way our club generates funds for this coming years events.  So search through your bonsai related items and trees and and try to be generous when selecting what you will bring that evening.  Since everyone enjoys coming home with a new tree or related item!  Also, remember to bring your checkbook and you can take care of your club dues for 2016 all at the same time.

This coming Tuesday( Dec. 1st) at Armadillos Willy’s restaurant our club will meet to go over our coming years schedule of events for our clubs meetings.  This will begin at 5:30pm with  the meal and shortly after we’ll get down to business with the meeting part. New ideas for meeting programs is always welcome, so please come and share your ideas and ways we can elevate our yearly meeting parts to serve the whole clubs needs.

At this time I would like to wish everyone in our club a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous coming New Year may all you want to accomplish in bonsai be a complete success!

Jack Christiansen

JT’s Tree Tips


We’re actually getting rain this year.  And enough cold weather to set good flower buds on apples and such.  Check trees for water needs.  Some aren’t using much water and some are really thirsty.  Move and rotate your trees so those trees needing more water are together.JT Picture

Winter is a great time to wire and style your conifers (except bald cypress and dawn redwoods).  You can clean out the crotch growth in conifers, deciduous and broad leaf evergreens unless you need a new branch to replace a weak older one that won’t back-bud.  Also clean out and trim back excessive foliage in the upper part of the tree to allow sun to penetrate into the lower branch interior.  Broad leaf evergreens like oaks, citrus and olives can have their upper leaves cut in half to allow more sunlight into the interior core of the tree to strengthen interior branches, thus preventing them from weakening and eventually dying. Weak branches should not be stripped of interior foliage so that they can gain strength with the heavier load.  We will cut back to this interior area later to create back budding.  Start from the top so that you create a pyramid shape where no upper branch is shading the tips of the next lower branch.  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.  Also remember that June candle cutting is done on more refined trees to increase ramification, not on trees that need basic branch structure.  We candle cut when we have set the branches in place and want to ramify from close-in to the trunk.

Once half your leaves have turned color, strip the remaining leaves off your deciduous trees.  We want to work on them as they are going into dormancy, not when they are totally dormant.  They tend to bleed when fully dormant. 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.  The next month 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.

Regardless, its a good time to study the future of your trees and decide which branches to eliminate and which to keep.  Leave a little stub when cutting back at this time of year.

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 and Valentines).   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 preventitive 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


Editor’s Note

Hey Folks,

This month’s video comes from the recent Taikan-Ten show in Japan.  Enjoy and I will see everyone Thursday!


December Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

December 3rd – Annual Christmas party and auction

Our first meeting will be our annual party and auction.  Please arrive at 6:00 and Dinner will begin to be served at 6:30.  Please bring a dish to share with the group as well as bring your checkbook for the auction immediately following dinner.  This is also a perfect time to pay your club dues when paying for your trees.  

December 17th – Final Workshop of the year

 Bring a tree or two to work on or even start repotting.  Time for one last workshop before the year ends.

2015 Meeting Schedule

Month 1st Thursday 3rd Thursday
December Annual Holiday Party and Auction Workshop

Set-up & Refreshments and Formal Tree Display

Month Formal Tree Display Set-up & Refreshments
December Holiday Party, no formal display Everyone!
January JT Jack Callon & Tim Rostege
February Juan Cruz David Butt & Mehrdad Chavosh
March Ray Stagner Juan Cruz & Tung Dao
April Larry White Carolyn Davis & Gerry Fields
May Jack Christiansen Bill Obrien & JT
June June Auction, no formal display Roger Geerts & Don Lintz
July Gerry Fields Alec Maclean & Danny Powell
August Mehrdad Charosh Lewis Comba & Kent Bell
September Jeff Escallier Carol Fairchild & Seiji Shiba
October Seiji Shiba George Shoptaw & Kathy Sloan
November Danny Powell Jim Wallace & Larry White
December Holiday Party, no formal display Everyone!

Notice about Set-up & Refreshment Duty

Hello Everyone, it’s Ray Stagner, in charge of facilities. For our club meetings to be successful, it is important our members participate and share in some of the responsibilities. We ask our members to help in the monthly duties of setting up and tearing down for both first and third Thursday meetings. Members who attend meetings regularly, are asked to help. Please arrive 1/2 hour before the meeting starts. I will be there to direct you. It’s very important, if you are unable to help on the days you are assigned to please contact me (408-209-5654). As well as helping with set up, we would like you to bring snacks of your choice to both meetings. If everyone participates, our meetings will start on time so we all can enjoy the activities planned for that evening.

Northern California Bonsai Events

December 5, 2015,  Fresno, California
Fresno Bonsai Society: Eighth Annual Bonsai Yard Sale, from 8 AM till 3P M, at 736 West Browning Avenue. The sale will offer pre-bonsai, finished trees, new and used pots, accent plants, books, stands, and stones. All are welcome to buy, trade, or sell. This event gets bigger every year and we welcome sellers of all items related to bonsai. Join us for great bargains and old friends.For more information, contact Peter Schaffert at

Dec. 12, 2015 – April 24, 2016 Oakland, California
California Suiseki Society and San Francisco Suiseki Kai: are featured with the work of sculptor Jedediah Caesar at Unearthed: Found + Made, a new exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak Street. The Suiseki, all found in California, share a process with Caesar who imitates geological processes in making his sculptures, sometimes encasing found objects from the urban environment in clear or colored resin. For further information go to

Dec. 26, 2015 – January 3, 2016, San Marino , Ca.
California Aiseki Kai: 26th Anniversary Exhibition of Viewing Stones Show at the Botanical Center of the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road. Hours are 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM each day (Clos ed New Year’s Day). Free parking. For more information see our website: and/or contact



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