February 2014


February 2014, Vol. 40, Issue 2

Birch - Mehrdad Chavosh

Birch – Mehrdad Chavosh


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

Presidents Message

JT PictureWith the hot January weather, we have been jettisoned into full bonsai mode by nature. Continue your transplanting and cut back trees to where you wish them to start budding out.

At our general meeting on February 6th, start by transplanting your trees, starting with the deciduous and then into the conifers. I will bring some extra soil for you to use if you don’t have any. Bring every thing you will need, as Jennifer laid out in the meeting description. There will be several of us to help you in repotting.

This is a great time for trying out a new pot on a tree. Trees take on a different personality with each pot. Hope to see you all working on trees at the meeting.

J T’S Tree Tips

With the unseasonable heat during January, a lot of trees are budding out and pushing quite strongly.  Get the deciduous trees repotted before its too late.  Also remember to water  your trees.  Most winters we can rely on rain storms, but not this year.

Don’t miss this opportunity to transplant your trees.  Do it now!  Healthy deciduous trees can be bare rooted.  Weak deciduous trees can be bare rooted, removing the field soil on ½ or 1/3 of the rootball leaving the rest of the root ball intact. You can get the rest cleaned out when you transplant in a year or two.  Conifers should not be totally bare rooted but at least one section of old field soil should be cleaned out if any still remains like in the weak deciduous trees above.

Grafting time is here for pines junipers and other species. We will discuss this at the third Thursday meeting this month. Keep some shoots toward the side of the tree to use as scions.  But don’t use the very tip of a growing shoot as this can be too strong a scion for the graft to take.  Plan out where you will be putting these grafts.  If you will be grafting deciduous trees, cut some scions and put them in damp paper towels and in the crisper of your refrigerator.  When the tree buds start moving, bring them out and use them for your grafts.  Remember that you will have better success if the under-stock’s sap is moving before the scions does.

Remember the project we talked about several years ago when we were to work on trees at different stages of refinement?  Start on a couple trees now, develop last years starters and refine a couple of last years developed trees as well as the six you refined a couple of years ago.  When you get multiples of nicely refined trees, keep the best and trade the extras for better and better trees.  The key is to keep only the best of these for your own collection and really concentrate on them.  Lose the rest.  Don’t start working on another one until you have completed as much work as you can on one for this year.

Develop your techniques. Learn from what you did last year.   Practice whenever you can and you will succeed.  Practice on workshop nights.  Practice at home.  Practice in your sleep.

Remember to use dormant spray around Valentine’s day.  It is best to do it on a day that the temperature will not get above 55º or you could burn the foliage.   Barry Coate has recommended using superior oil like Volk Oil® or Ultra-fine® oil which smothers wintering-over bugs like scale.  Try copper spray or lime-sulfur, except on Ume, spruce, azaleas and tropical trees, to protect deciduous and fruiting and flowering species.  This will head off big problems later on.

When you cut back on branches this month, leave just a tiny stub for die back.  If you cut an entire branch, do not cut into the branch collar which is that swollen area where the branch attaches to the trunk.   Remember that the tree is getting active and will soon generate new growth to heal over the cuts.

Now that the pine needles have matured and hardened, if you haven’t already removed them, it is time to take off the all the old needles and some of the newer needles on the plump and healthy shoots.  This opens up the interior of the tree to the sun and airflow that is necessary to generate back budding.  Remember to leave more needles on lower branches and interior buds; and if weak, don’t touch at all.  Watch out for those that have already started new tiny buds.  It would be a shame to accidentally pluck out those tiny buds you try so hard to generate.

Plan to collect some trees this year.  Whether it is a neighbors pyracanthas hedge or an oak dig or a trip to the mountains or desert for junipers, don’t pass up this great way to find super material.  It also gives you a chance to observe the branching and twigging patterns of your favorite trees.  Collect interesting mosses and lichen in flats for use at show time.  The best accent plants for a bonsai are those that are growing up along side it in the wild.

Midori Member Profile

This month: Carol Fairchild

How did you get involved with bonsai?

I have always loved gardening, my father started me out with vegetables when I was a little girl and I haven’t stopped except when I lived in apartments. We used to go visit botanical gardens and I tried a bonsai pine tree of some sort and a Zelkova, way back in the 70’s using the bagged “bonsai soil” from a nursery and the old Sunset Bonsai booklet. It wasn’t a huge success and when I left home I got away from it. I haven’t tried it again until I found Midori.

How long have you been doing bonsai?

About one year, but I haven’t done much more than collect little trees during the last year. It’s just the fear of destroying them… My new years resolution is to make changes to all the trees and this is a good season to start using all the pots I bought.

How many bonsai do you have?

Well… I bought a very few pre-bonsai, everything else is either seedlings or nursery plants that I have plans for. Maybe about 30-40 trees all together. I hate to tell you how small my yard is!

What is your favorite specimen?

I have hopes for a nursery reject redbud and also for a huge collected boxwood to learn woodcarving. Also, I won a crabapple in the last raffle and I’ll be very interested to see it change seasonally.

What is your favorite bonsai style?

It’s too soon to have one favorite! Windswept, literati and forest, root over or alongside rock, and I’m very fond of Shohin-sized trees.

Who is your favorite bonsai artist?

I don’t know any famous artists yet, but we have some marvelous bonsai artists in Midori whom I admire. And there is an 800 year old tree in Shunkaen, Japan that is amazing.

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

It varies from 1 hour and up. It depends on how much overtime I have to work and how many other time commitments I have. When I retire I hope to spend much more time in the garden.

What is your special skill in bonsai?

I’m another person who is still trying not to kill trees, although I have lost a few. I did think I lost a hedge maple and a frozen bougainvillea last year, but they came back to life in summer and I’m looking forward to turning both into bonsai. They sometimes surprise me with their persistence in surviving.

How many yamadori (collected trees) do you have?

I have a collected Sierra juniper bought from Ed Verant, and an urban collected boxwood from Mehrdad. I love the idea of collecting from the wild, but I’m not prepared to dig up a tree until I can be fairly sure it will survive.

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

I love all kinds of gardening. My townhouse has a very small yard, so bonsai seemed like a way to spend time puttering in the yard without exceeding the space limits. Hah! Little did I know how easily they can accumulate. I see possibilities in so many plants. At any rate, to me, Bonsai means the continuation of an old tradition, reminds me of the skill of the masters, and makes me think of life and fragile beauty, of the struggle to survive and the strength of trees.

January Meeting Recap

Last month we had the pleasure of having Jim Gremel down to tell us a little bit about cedars. Here’s a few photos from his demo.

February Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

February 5th – Transplanting Workshop
This month, our 1st Thursday Meeting will be a transplanting workshop.  All participating members please bring in trees for transplanting, clean pots, screen, wire, soil, water spray bottle and any other tools necessary for performing transplanting. Additionally, it would be helpful to bring in things that make the job less messy like a big plastic tray for catching soil and some paper towels.

This is a good time to get help if you are not sure how to proceed on your special tree.  For further information on the transplanting subject, JT’s Tips article in the January Newsletter contains lots of helpful tips.

2014 Meeting Schedule

Month 1st Thursday 3rd Thursday
February Transplant Workshop Tool Sharpening with JT
March Grafting Techniques with Boon (Currently Open)
April Tree Improvement with Gerry Cascade Junipers with Jack
May Soil, Fertilizer, and Water with JT Soil Mixing Workshop
June Annual Silent Auction Photo Shoot with Danny and Jim
July Choosing Nursery Material with Jim (Currently Open)
August Wind Swept Bonsai with Mehrdad (Currently Open)
September Shohin with Juan Cruz Annual Midori Bonsai Show Tree Prep
October Boxwood to Oak with Larry (Currently Open)
November Extreme Bending with Peter Tea (Currently Open)
December Annual Holiday Party and Auction Pork chop workshop

Set-up & Refreshments and Formal Tree Display

Month Formal Tree Display Set-up & Refreshments
February Mehrdad Chavosh Juan Cruz & David Butt
March JT Jennifer Beck & Jack Callon
April Ray Stagner Ed Frigon & Tung Dao
May Gerry Fields Roger Geerts & Sebastian Girard
June June Auction, no formal display Mark Garrett & Don Lintz
July Carol Fairchild Gerry Fields & Debe Kahn
August Tim Rostege Alex Loughry & Danny Powell
September George Shoptaw Jeff Quast & Tim Rostege
October Larry White Seiji Shiba & Kathy Sloan
November Seiji Shiba Jim Wallace & Larry White
December Holiday Party, no formal display Everyone!

Notice about Set-up & Refreshment Duty

Happy New Year Midori members! 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 Adam or myself (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.

Lets make this a great year of good Bonsai.

Northern California Bonsai Events

January 31st – February 2nd, 2014, Santa Nella, California
California Shohin Seminar at the Hotel Mission de Oro, Santa Nella California.
Friday (Jan 31): Registration, Demonstrations, and Exhibit and Vendor areas Set Up.
Everyone is invited to share their treasured Shohin Bonsai in the Exhibit
Saturday (Feb 1): Exhibit Opens for Viewing, Vendor Sales Critiques, Workshops, Bazaar & Benefit Drawing Sunday (Feb 2): Exhibit Open 10:30-Noon. Critique and Demonstration, Business Meeting Registration Forms available on the website on November 1st 2013
For general information email: calshohin@yahoo.com, website: http://www.calshohin.org/ or phone: Randi Keppeler 650-598-0127

February 22nd – 23rd, 2014,  Oakland, California
GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt: Mammoth Fundraiser – 2014 at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue.  Saturday (Feb 22): Auction of fabulous bonsai 1PM-4PM with preview at 12 Noon. Sunday (Feb 23): Mammoth Plant Sale and a huge gathering of Vendors, 9AM-4PM. Round Robin Demonstrations noon to 3PM by Collection Curator, Kathy Shaner and Team. For general information email: www.bonsailakemerritt@gmail.com, website: www.gsbf-bonsai.org/lake-merritt/NewHome.htm or phone:
Randi Keppeler 650-598-0127

February 25th, 2014, Sacramento, California
American Bonsai Association Sacramento (ABAS): Bjorn Bjorholm will be featured speaker at ABAS’ monthly meeting.  Bjorn has been studying under contemporary Japanese master Keiichi Fujikawa in Osaka, Japan since 2008 and he is also the co-founder and co-instructor of the Fujikawa International School of Bonsai.  ABAS welcomes the public to attend this event free of charge on Tues, Feb 25th, at 7 PM at Shepard Garden and Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd.  Bjorn’s visit is made possible in part through a GSBF grant.


Posted in Uncategorized