July 2014


July 2014, Vol. 40, Issue 7

Escallonia - George Shoptaw

Escallonia – George Shoptaw


  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Bonsai and BBQ at The Town of Machine
  • Sei Boku Bonsai Kai Styling Contest
  • June Meeting Recap
  • July Meeting Topics & Club Calendar
  • 2014 Meeting Schedule

Presidents Message

JT PictureI would like to congratulate three members of our club who volunteered to style a tree in a contest between members of the Kusamura Bonsai Club, Midori and the host club, Sei Boku Bonsai Kai. Last Wednesday night Jack Christiansen, Adam Butterfield, and Danny Powell styled a good sized Green Atlas Cedar – and did a great Job! The event was organized by Gerry Fields of our club and the tree was won by myself in a drawing at the end of the night.  Several Midori members were on hand to cheer on our guys.

We will be starting the organization of our upcoming show (October 4th) and I will begin circulating signup sheets for backdrops and volunteers at this month’s meeting. Start thinking seriously about what you would like to show in this year’s show.

It’s that time of year when we need to start thinking about the makeup of the new board of directors for Midori for next year.  For all who get there early on Thursday nights, you know that the board meeting is pretty simple one but necessary for the club to operate and function properly. Please think about how you would like to serve the club, and if you area asked, please say yes and join us on the board.  If all of us do some little jobs, it will add up to a well running club. Jack Christiansen has volunteered to lead the nomination committee.  He and his committee members will be looking for you to help.
–    JT

J T’S Tree Tips

It is shaping up to be a good growing Summer, but a dry one.  Don’t let your trees dry out.  So, if you haven’t done it already..Its de-candling time for your black pines.  Start at the end of June de-candling your standard sized and large black pines.  For shohin black pine, hold off for a week or so. See below. The longer you wait, within reason, the shorter will be the new candles and needles on your tree.  Wait too long and if we have a cold overcast summer, you wont get enough growth on the new candles over the summer.  Its always a balancing act. One caution: Don’t de-candle trees, or specific branches on trees that are weak, or branches tips that need to be lengthened or fattened in your design.

Typically, we start on the largest pine trees first and end with the shohin.  The reason for this is that the early de-candling will yield longer needles than the  later de-candling (longer time to grow before hardening).  All things being equal, larger needles are more in scale on large trees and small needles look best on shohin.

This said, leave intact any weak candles on the inside of the tree that have not extended at all.  Healthy short candles on inside and lower part of tree, cut at the base.  Medium strength candles cut about 1 to 1 ½ times the diameter of the candle above the base of the candle.  Strongest, cut about 2 to 2 ½ times the diameter of the candle above the base.  This helps give weaker candles a head start in developing uniform budding.  Pull the fertilizer off the de-candled trees until the new candles are pushing toward the middle of August.

Turn your trees regularly to keep growth even.  If all of your bonsai look like windswept style trees its probably because you haven’t turned them.  Foliage grows toward the sun.  You can defoliate or leaf-prune (cutting leaves off but leaving leaf stems on) deciduous trees except beech. Usually pulling half the leaves is sufficient to kick in a new crop. This will kick in a new set of leaves.  This can be accomplished by cutting off the big leaves, every other leaf, the outside leaves or a select area of leaves of the tree.  There are many ways to do it depending on your intended outcome. Be sure they are healthy and vigorous before trying this technique. It is usually best to remove most of the leaves on the top and outside of strong branches while leaving more of the inner leaves to strengthen this weaker area.  Remember: pinching and defoliating, while helping to ramify, weaken a strong tree.  Don’t do it to a weak tree. And don’t do it every year.

Keep pinching new growth on trees you are refining. When you see the growth spurts slow down, as it probably will this month or in August, let the growth go and return energy to the tree.  We can trim it back prior to the show.  The trees will naturally go through another growth season in the early fall.

For those trees in development, where you need movement and length for styling or to strengthen a branch, let the shoots grow after first wiring them.

You can still air layer your trees but please don’t defoliate them at the same time.  The more foliage load on the tree, the faster the roots will develop.This is also a good time to take cuttings on hardened shoots.

Spider mites, aphids, scale suck the life out of your trees.  Look for them on the tree or tap a branch over white paper then smear whatever drops on to it.  If you get a red smear, guess what?   Spider mites most likely.  Try spraying them off with a hose and/or nuke ‘em! Try 3 applications spaced 7 to 10 days apart using your concoction of choice.  UltraFine® oil, Neem oil, Malathion®, Diazinon®, Orthene®, Isotox®, and the like to stamp out the critters.  Spray from underneath and on top.  Use a spreader, a few drops of dish-washing detergent, to make it stick to the trunk and branches and foliage.  The same goes for fungicides like Daconil® or Benolate®, which can control mildew which breeds on the foliage when you have a combination of warm Summer evenings and moisture (from watering to late in the day) as well as other fungal problems.

Keep feeding your trees as we outlined last month. Remember black pines need more than most other trees.  Add more fertilizer in tea bags, or rapeseed cakes or cottonseed meal balls until next month.  Or continue the water-soluble fertilizer as you have been doing.

Prevent heat damage to the roots.  Sphagnum moss on the surface of the soil can help cool down these areas. Overhead shade cloth is another aid in relieving summer heat stress on trees. However it does restrict sun to the trees manufacturing plant – the leaves. (My shade cloth goes up in June and comes down in mid-September).  Try 30% – 40%  shade cloth, available through Grower’s Supply, to just dampen the effects of the scorching sun without giving up the growing power the sun provides.   In my micro-climate this seems to be the perfect amount of shade.   Most shade cloths available are 60% to 70% (available at OSH or Home Depot).   These are more suitable to cooling the patio for people rather than helping bonsai grow.  Growth under these darker cloths seems to be leggy and stay succulent longer.  The internodes tend to stretch out and the tree can lose the compact foliage we fight so hard for.  However, if you cut up pieces of 60% – 70% shade cloth and put them on top of the soil and covering out past the edge of the pot and you have a great cooler for your trees.  I use this myself in stead of the moss covering.

Check your trees a couple of times a day.  Water only those trees that need it.  When you do water, make sure that the water penetrates completely through the soil.  If a crust has formed the water may just be flowing off the top and down the sides without penetrating the root mass.  Use a chopstick to agitate and break up the soil.  Adding a little dish-washing detergent acts as a surfactant and helps the water to penetrate the surface soil area. Don’t water the leaves in the evening as mildew can form in the warm conditions at this time of year.  Early morning is the best time for thorough watering.  Watering in the evening tends to also cool down the soil when it could benefit from steady warmth.

If your deciduous leaves dry up on an extremely hot day, don’t panic.  The safety system of the tree sloughs off flowers, fruit and leaves when it is distressed to protect the core life zone in the tree, namely the vascular system.  You may loose some of the ramification in the branches but you should be able to build your tree up again.  Many times the tree will sprout new buds as if a new season were beginning.  Keep moist, but don’t over water as you may drown the roots which have been weakened.  Again, shading the soil with shade cloth or sphagnum moss covering should make this problem very rare indeed.

–    JT

Bonsai and BBQ at The Town of Machine

Those of you who missed Larry White’s bring your own tree and barbecue workshop definitely missed out! Fourteen members spent the day together, we all had a great time working on our trees and shooting the bull about whatever as we listened to some of Larry’s favorite western movie soundtracks. Everyone had a chance to barbecue their own steak, just the way they like it, and feast on some great side dishes that just made the day complete as the afternoon rolled along.

The best part was seeing some of the truly wonderful trees our club members worked on that day, and getting to share tips, tricks, and advice with each other. We would like to ask that everyone who attended the workshop to please bring in your trees to share with everyone at our next meeting. It’s a great way for all of us to learn from the workshop.

Thanks Larry for your support!

–    Jack Christiansen


Sei Boku Bonsai Kai Styling Contest

This past Wednesday evening the stage was set, the trees were in place, and the room was filled with excitement as club members were about to see the great bonsai shoot out. Three clubs faced off to demonstrate their bonsai skills at this event put on by Sei Boku Bonsai Kai bonsai club of San Mateo. The teams hailed from Sei Boku, as well as Kusamura of Palo Alto, and of course our own club.

Our own Gerry Fields started the program that evening sharing background information about the contest trees that he provided, green atlas cedars that he had dug up two years ago. There were three tables set up in front of a packed room, each with a team from one of the clubs and a tree chosen at random.

Team Midori with the finished tree.

Team Midori with the finished tree.

The Midori team consisted of Danny Powell, Adam Butterfield, and myself (Jack Christiansen). Once we had the tree in front of us, we were all eager to get the program going. All three of us carefully studied the tree, it was the largest in the competition by far, and once we decided on the best front, we started figuring out which branches could stay, and which ones had to go. Danny jumped right in and started wiring and initially setting the two major lower branches. Adam, calm and reserved, made a thorough study of what was taking place, as I supported Danny’s effort in the wiring and bending. An important feature we all wanted was to kill off the top of the tree. It took a bit of time to get that feature looking nice. Finally, as the tree moved towards completion, we all converged in the finial wiring and details. Yes, the work was frantic, but also organized, and we even got together in the days beforehand for some initial planning.

Time was up and all three teams finished their trees within the hour and a half time allotment. No winner was declared that evening, and all three trees were raffled off a the end of the event. Our very own Midori Bonsai Club president JT ended up with the lucky ticket for our tree.

What a great experience that evening was for the three of us, and we all agreed, we we met the challenge and made the best out of what was set before us. We all came away winners that evening!

Thanks guys!

–    Jack Chrsitiansen

June Meeting Recap

Last month we had a great couple of meetings. The 1st Thursday meeting was our always great Silent Auction. Club members brought in some really great material this year. Here’s a few pictures of the chaos.

In addition, on our 3rd Thursday meeting, we had Danny and Jim host our Midori Tree Photo Shoot. The pictures came out great! For those of you who haven’t them yet, you can find them here: http://www.midoribonsai.org/home/gallery/summer-2014-member-tree-photo-day/

July Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

July 3rd – Choosing Nursery Material with Jim

Everyone likes getting a new tree to work on, and for those of us that don’t want to break the bank every time we want to get a new tree, the nursery is where we often look to pick something up. But picking nursery material can be tricky, we don’t want to get stuck with a tree we’ll end up regretting. Come to the 1st Thursday meeting this month to get some tips on picking a good tree.

July 17th – General Workshop

For our 3rd Thursday program, we currently don’t have any special topic scheduled. Come down and bring a tree or two to work on and get advice from other club members.

2014 Meeting Schedule

Month 1st Thursday 3rd Thursday
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
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

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 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.


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