February 2016


February 2016, Vol. 42, Issue 2



  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Editor’s Note
  • BIB 2016 show pictures
  • January Meeting Recap
  • February Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

Presidents Message

I was really pleased to see this past months repotting program a complete success, with many new members taking advantage of the round robin examples threw-out the room.  In addition, we have seen many new faces recentlyIMG_3634 at our meetings. This shows that our club will be growing in size and diversity in future months.  And as all of us know these new ones will require additional help with their bonsai education and working with improving their bonsai skills.  So it was really nice to see so many new members getting the kind of help at our third Thursday meeting with the plants they brought in for repotting.  Thanks senior members for your needed help in extending your hands in support of that program!

Our February meeting will continue in helping our new members learn to wire their trees properly.  Various members this month will bring in wiring materials and tree branches to use as examples to show how wire is applied and taken off.  This program will be a round robin formate like last months where members can circulate around the room and see a variety of wiring examples going on.  The idea here is, once they see how it’s done, then they can take a turn in applying the wire themselves.  Should be fun for all!
In addition, our club’s board is looking to provide a theme topic for a couple third Thursday meeting this year.  With our regular workshop program we would like to provide a theme centered around a specific type of tree like a boxwood or Juniper, where everyone brings in a tree of that type and can sign up for help that evening.  A senior member would be taking charge of that topic and would bring in a few trees that he had worked on over the years that can be a good example to follow.  So please let me know if you have a specific tree in mind that many of our members have and need help with.

February is a month where we see a great transition from winter weather to a more mild climate here in the Bay Area. And its not unusual to see many of our deciduous trees sending out new growth and taking on green again.  This whole process for me is invigorating and exciting, even though we may have some cold weather ahead the worst is over and we can see Spring in the air.  But its still time to be considerate of that new growth when certain nights could freeze and ruin those tender new sprouts.  So check on the weather forecast regularly, and protect when needed.

I had a great time this past Saturday morning visiting the Bay Island Bonsai club’s yearly show up in Oakland.  The show centered around trees of medium size to much smaller, yes two rooms full of well displayed trees of all types.  I especially enjoyed the stark silhouettes of the deciduous trees showing their naked branches but in full branch ramification.  The shohin displays really caught my fancy, maples and black pines miniature in size but with large trunks.  This show is  not to be missed every year in January.

This month is loaded with two special bonsai events that you don’t want to miss, first of all the California Shohin Seminar in the town of Santa Nella,  Feb. 5,6,&7. There will be a fine shohin exhibit, along with workshops and a assortment of vendor.  Secondly, our Annual Mammoth Fund Raiser at Lake Merritt, check out all the details in this months newsletters up and coming events.

Have a great month everyone!


Jack Christiansen, President

J T’s Tree Tips

The rain has been just about perfect this year.  Once a week or so, then a clear soak in time.  But you can’t rely on it exclusively.  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. This and fall are perfect times to graft.  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.

JT PictureRemember 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 Ultr
a-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.

John Thompson

Editor’s Note

Hi Folks,

Since this month’s meeting will be focusing on wiring here are a couple videos to watch before our meeting on Thursday.  This one focuses on deciduous trees and this series is for conifers although the underlying techniques are the same.

Bay Island Bonsai 2016 Show Pictures

Last weekend was the annual Bay Island Bonsai show in Oakland.  This year they didn’t have any trees above 18 inches tall and here are some of the highlights:

January Meeting Recap

This past month we had our repotting workshops on both days.  We’ll continue with the same format with this month’s meetings.

February Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

February 4th – Wiring Workshop

This meeting will be devoted to learning how to wire our trees with a round robin program with various senior members involved.  There will be a few trees and wire provided for those who would like to try their hand at wiring. Alternatively, if you have a tree you would like to wire and would like advice, bring it in.

February 18th – Transplanting Workshop continued

Our third Thursday workshop meeting will be our bi-annual photo shoot and general workshop.  All members are encouraged to bring in up to 3 trees to be photographed.  These trees don’t have to be finished, or even far along their journey as bonsai, this is a good way to document their progress over time.

So bring a tree to work on and up to 3 to be photographed.  If any members have stands that can be used please bring those in as well.

2016 Meeting Schedule

Month 1st Thursday 3rd Thursday
February Round Robin Wiring w/Sr. Members Photo Shoot with Danny and Jim & wiring workshop
March Selecting good bonsai material w/Gordon Deegs Open workshop
April Tree Improvement Program w/Gerry Fields Open workshop
May Redwood Demo w/Larry White Redwood workshop
June Annual Silent Auction Open workshop
July Mike Pistello / TBD Photo Shoot with Danny and Jim
August Progressive Pine Development w/Jonas Dupuich Show prep workshop
September How to apply moss Show organization program and show prep workshop
October TBD Show review and workshop
November TBD Open workshop
December Annual Holiday Party, Election, and Auction Open workshop

Set-up & Refreshments and Formal Tree Display

Month Formal Tree Display Set-up & Refreshments
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

February 5 – 7, 2016   Santa Nella, California
California Shohin Seminar @ Hotel Mission de Oro Feb 5: Registration 10 AM – 5 PM with demonstrations from Noon – 6 PM, Exhibit and Vendor areas set-up 11 AM – 5 PM; everyone is invited to share their treasured Shohin Bonsai in the Exhibit. Feb 6: Exhibit opens for Registration, Viewing, Vendor Sales, Workshops, Raffle & Benefit Drawing 8 AM – 5 PM. Feb 7: Exhibit Open 9 AM – Noon with demonstrations, and business meeting. Registration Forms available on the website. Attendees who only want access to vendor and exhibit may purchase a day pass. For more information see our website: http://www.calshohin.org/, email: calshohin@yahoo.com, or phone: Randi Keppeler (650) 598-0127.

February 27 – 28, 2016Oakland, California
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. The Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt will celebrate the many bonsai clubs who have created and support the Garden by inviting Bonsai Clubs from all over Northern California to showcase their best bonsai display and promote their club activities. Attendees will be eligible to vote for their favorite display. 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.


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