February 2015


February 2015, Vol. 41, Issue 2



  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Editor’s Note
  • January Meeting Recap
  • February Meeting Topics & Club Calendar
  • 2015 Meeting Schedule
  • Pictures from the Bay Island Bonsai Show

Presidents Message

This month we’re kicking off Februarys meeting with Bill Castellon and his approach to working with Pines throughout the winter months. Bill comes to us from the East Bay Region, an instructor at Merritt College, School of Landscape Horticulture. Bill specializes in aesthetic pruning with emphases on pine work. In his earlier years Bill was tutored by Mas Imazumi for eight years with the East Bay Bonsai Club, and since has started his own landscaping business specializing with gardens with an Asian flair. This month we’re asking members to bring in a selected pine for Bill to review and get suggestions for future work. Of course, there won’t be time for everyone to get their pine reviewed, but Bill promises he’ll do his best to cover those trees that will enlighten us the most. IMG_3634

Our third Thursday meeting will be highlighted with another opportunity to have members trees photographed by Danny Powell and Jim Wallace. This is a great chance to see how our trees are progressing every six months, so bring in those trees and stands!
I want to thank everyone who attended our meeting at Armadillo Willy’s this past month. Because of everyones suggestions, we already now have our yearly meetings scheduled for the year. In this months news letter you can review the full schedule. I think you’ll agree, we have some exciting meetings to look forward to with many new third Thursday demonstrations. This year, we were fortunate to have secured Matt Reel from Portland Oregon for our Bonsai show demonstrator. This young man created quite a stir with his skills at our convention this past year. Matt is recently back from Japan after spending almost eight years apprenticing under master Shinji Suzuki. More details will be revealed about Matt and his meeting demonstration as we get closer to our show.
Everyone, please review the newly posted schedule in this newsletter regarding those responsible for meeting set up and providing meeting refreshments. If you can’t make your scheduled meeting, please contact other members to fill in for you that evening.
We’re still looking for possible options for our yearly bonsai show location. Everyone seems to love the location we now have in Japan Town, but it never hurts to see if there’s something out there that will fit our needs even better. So if you have a location locally in mind, please suggest it to me in future meetings since we need to commit to a location by March. Everyone have a great time working on your bonsai trees this month, and look forward to seeing you at our meetings.

Jack Christiansen

J T’S Tree Tips

We thought that the rain storms of December would give us the start of a wet winter but January was a dud and we are right back in the drought mode. With the unseasonable heat ramping up during January, a lot of trees are budding out and pushing quite strongly. Remember to water your trees!!

Continue to transplant your trees. Do it now! Healthy deciduous trees can be bare rooted. Weak deciduous trees can be partially 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. Keep some shoots toward the side of the tree to use as scions. But don’t use the very tip of a vigorously 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 again 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.


Editor’s Note

Hey Folks,

If you have anything interesting you think would be good to include in the newsletter let me know.  Feel free to talk to me at a meeting or email me at danny@dpowellphoto.com .  I’ve found a great blog out of England recently that you can check out here.  Also I’ve started posting some of my work in instagram here.  Let me know what you think and what else you’d like to see here.


January Meeting Recap

This past month we had a repotting workshop with a great Demo by JT.   Ben Willis and Peter Tea both sold repotting supplies and a lot of work got done.  Enjoy the photos.

February Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

February 5th – Pine Care with Bill Castellon

This month we will have Bill Castellon joining us.  The program is on Pine care and we hope you will bring in your pines and questions.  He probably  won’t have time to talk about all the pines we bring in but he will select many that will illustrate care and styling techniques he will want to emphasize.

Bill has been doing bonsai for more than 25 years. Dennis Makishima was his first instructor hence the love of pines. Bill is past president of East Bay Bonsai Society and a member of BABA and Merritt College Bonsai Club. Bill has done pine workshops for several GSBF conventions as well as pine workshops and demos for many clubs throughout Calif. Bill will discuss seasonal needs of Japanese Black Pine and Red Pine as well as others you may be interested in. He would also like to discuss your trees and possibly make some cuts. It will be a great learning experience so bring your tree.

February 19th – Photo Shoot with Danny & Jim and general workshop

Our third Thursday workshop meeting we will again be taking pictures of your trees so bring them in.  We will do the same format as the last few years, but do your best to have everything cleaned (pot, soil, and tree) and ready pictures.  Use this as an opportunity to track the progress of your trees year over year so feel free to bring in trees we’ve pictured previously and see how they’ve progressed.  Please bring in no more than three trees per person to be photographed so that we have enough time to get to everyone.


2015 Meeting Schedule

Month 1st Thursday 3rd Thursday
January Transplanting Workshop with JT Transplanting Workshop
February Pine Winter Work with Bill Castellon Photo Shoot with Danny and Jim
March Yamadori Junipers with Jim Gremel Growing Moss with George Shoptaw
April Tree Improvement with Gerry Fields Oak Tree Demo with JT
May Rock Plantings with Juan Cruz Developing Cascades with Jack Christiansen
June Annual Silent Auction Photo Shoot with Danny and Jim
July TBD w/Kathy Shaner Boxwood Demo with Larry White
August Tree Carving with Mehrdad Chavosh Bunjin Style Tress with Seiji Shiba
September Judging Trees with Peter Tea Grafting Demo with JT
October TBD w/Matt Reel Show Prep Workshop
November Forest Plantings with Juan Cruz Display (Out of the Ordinary) with Mehrdad Chavosh
December Annual Holiday Party, Election, and Auction Pork chop workshop

Set-up & Refreshments and Formal Tree Display

Month Formal Tree Display Set-up & Refreshments
January Larry White Jeff Quast & Tim Rostege
February JT David Butt & Mehrdad Chavosh
March Juan Cruz Juan Cruz & Tund Dao
April Seiji Shiba Carolyn Davis & Gerry Fields
May Ray Stagner Debe Kahn & Mark Garrett
June TBD Roger Geerts & Don Lintz
July George Shoptaw Alec MacLean & Danny Powell
August Gerry Fields Don Dunn & Tim Rostege
September Jack Christiansen Jeff Quast & Seiji Shiba
October Danny Powell George Shoptaw & Kathy Sloan
November Jeff Excallier 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

February 21 – 22, 2015 Oakland, CA
GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt: The annual Mammoth Fund Raiser will be held at 666 Bellevue Ave. (Garden Center Building). Saturday: Auction preview at noon with Auction starting at 1 PM. Sunday: Vendor Sales start at 9 AM, Plant Sales start at 10 AM, and Demonstrations at 1 PM. Also on Sunday help us celebrate our 15th Anniversary! The Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt will celebrate the many bonsai clubs who have created and supported the Garden by inviting Bonsai Clubs from all over Northern California to showcase their best trees. Bonsai Garden will be open 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturday and Noon to 4 PM on Sunday. For more information or to sell trees, email bonsailakemerritt@gmail.com and visit www.gsbf-lakemerritt.org.


Pictures from the Bay Island Bonsai Show

This past weekend the Bay Island Bonsai Club in Oakland put on their annual show at Lake Merritt.  Here are some pictures from the show provided by Jack Christiansen.  Thanks Jack!



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