July 2015


July 2015, Vol. 41, Issue 7



  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Editor’s Note
  • June Meeting Recap
  • July Meeting Topics & Club Calendar
  • Sei Boku Styling Contest
  • Sei Boku Show Pictures
  • 2015 Meeting Schedule
  • Northern California Bonsai Events

Presidents MessageIMG_3634

Our site for this years bonsai show is now finally set, the Wesley United Methodist Church facility in Japan Town a location we’ve used a few years ago will accommodate us Saturday October 10th from 10:00am to 5:00 pm.  The one large room we’re using in the back of the church will need to support our tree backgrounds, the complete demonstration area and chairs, plus whatever sales area the church will allow us.  This year there will be no Friday evening prior setup to Saturday morning, instead we all will need to arrive early Saturday morning  (7:00am) and have a three hour time period to get it all set up for the 10:00 opening.  I know this is going to be tight, but we have no other options this year!  But if we’re well organized and have all the needed materials that support us we can get the job done in the time frame.  John Thompson will be our programs demonstrator for this years show.  October is just around the corner, so club members, now is the time to get those show tree ready to be displayed.  A sign-up sheet for our show trees and their back ground positions will be circulated over the next few months.  I’m really getting excited about our show, and I hope we all can dig in and have a share in this years program!

Our first Thursday meeting in July will feature Kathy Shaner who has agreed to get us thinking about the various options we have for developing our accent plants for our bonsai show this year. Kathy requests that all members that evening please bring in a variety of materials that she can use to mix and match like small pots, rocks, leaves, bark, sculpture pieces and whatever you may have to make for a diverse and  informative program. In addition,  what miniature plants do you have to bring in?  There is a great variety succulents, grasses, and the like that make for interesting pieces that will work nicely at our show.   So scout around local nurseries or places that specialize in small miniature plants.

Ben Willis our events coordinator this year is planning a North Bay day trip for all club members in the first part of July.  We plan to visit three bonsai nurseries along the way including stoping off for a lunch together between nursery sites. It should be a full fun day of checking out new trees and purchasing needed items. Details of the trip will be sent out soon.

Our third Thursday meeting will highlight boxwoods, Larry White who has many wonderful boxwood trees will share his and request that you bring in yours for advice and development questions.  As usual we will have our normal workshop program that evening where you can get help on whatever tree you bring in.

We’re experiencing warmer weather these days now that July is with us, be sure that your plants are getting the needed water and protection from the hot afternoon sun.  This warmer weather comes on quickly so don’t delay in taking action.  Have a great month doing bonsai everyone!

Jack Christiansen

JT’s Tree Tips

We’re really getting some heat here at the beginning of Summer.  Don’t let your trees dry out. You might consider shade cloth (30%-50%) to protect your trees.  Also some shade cloth on the surface of the soil extending out farther than the edge of the pot can help keep the pots cooler  in the direct sun.(see below).

If you haven’t done it already..Its de-candling time for your black pines.  Start decandling 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 decandle 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 decandling will yield longer needles than the  later decandling (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.

Cut all your candles at the base and leave more needles on the weaker branches and fewer on the strong branches to equalize the strength.  Pull the fertilizer off the decandled 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 dishwashing 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 www.catalogclearinghouse.com , to just dampen the effects of the scorching sun without giving up the growing power the sun provides.   In my microclimate 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 dishwashing 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.


Editor’s Note

Hey Folks,

Just a quick update and a new video out of Japan here.

Also there was recently a theft of bonsai in San Gabriel and you can find more information here.  Keep an eye out.


June Meeting Recap

This past month we had out annual silent auction as well as our semi-annual photo shoot.  The pictures are a little delayed, but they’ll be going out soon. Thanks for your patience.

July Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

July 2nd – Accent Plants with Kathy Shaner

Our first Thursday meeting in July will feature Kathy Shaner who has agreed to get us thinking about the various options we have for developing our accent plants for our bonsai show this year. Kathy requests that all members that evening please bring in a variety of materials that she can use to mix and match like small pots, rocks, leaves, bark, sculpture pieces and whatever you may have to make for a diverse and  informative program. In addition,  what miniature plants do you have to bring in?  There is a great variety succulents, grasses, and the like that make for interesting pieces that will work nicely at our show.   So scout around local nurseries or places that specialize in small miniature plants.

July 16th – Boxwoods with Larry and general workshop

I will be facilitating a program on Boxwoods at this month’s third Thursday meeting. Rather than giving a lecture, I would like to personally assist members with the development of their own trees. So bring in your boxwoods, and I I’ll have a sign-up sheet, then I’ll go around in the order of the sign-ups. I will also bring in a few of my own Boxwoods so you can see how they are developing. Hope to see you there! – Larry

Sei Boku Styling Contest

This past Wednesday evening three clubs were invited to participate in a tree styling contest at Sei boku Bonsai Club. The meeting was jammed with club members all eager to see three club teams converge and  manipulate the three Ponderosa Pines provided for the contest.  Kusamura, Sei Boku, and Midori made up the three teams that included a three man roster. Midori’s team was made up of three club members, Seiji Shiba, Juan Cruz, and myself Jack Christiansen.  After Gerry Fields provided important information regarding the care and development of Ponderosa Pines the three teams began their magic with their tree they pulled the number for.  Midori actually ended up with the largest tree in the group, that had a good turn right at the beginning of the trunk and taper all the way up the tree. So we thought that this tree had the most interesting features of the three trees provided. After one hour, we had the tree trunk all raffied, wired, and all branches that needed wiring wrapped and ready for final positioning. The problem with collected trees from the wild is that they have long extended branches without any needle coverage.  So the biggest problem at hand was to bend and contort these long branches in order to shorten them without compromising the overall design we had in mind. We finished our tree in about one hour and fifteen minutes, about fifteen minutes longer then the two other teams.  They didn’t raffia their trunks to get movement like we did, or needed to put the heavy wire we did in order to add the additional turns in our tree trunk.  The two other trees ended up as semi-cascades, ours an informal upright.

Who actually came out on top as the club contest winner, honestly, no one will ever know, because that wasn’t the intent of the program.  In all actuality we all came off winners, we all had a hand in generating funds for the home club and all three trees where worth spending a few bucks for in the raffle and have an  opportunity to win and take home.  Although this type of competition with a time element is a lot fun it also can be very nerve racking that really pushes you to make quick decisions and needing good technical skills. Thanks Juan and Seiji for providing all those elements needed that evening.

Jack Christiansen

Sei Boku Show Pictures

Here are a few pictures from the recent Sei Boku show courtesy of our own Jack Christiniansen.


2015 Meeting Schedule

July Accent Plants 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 Show Prep Workshop
October TBD w/Matt Reel Grafting Demo with JT
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
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

July 8th, 2015, Oakland, California
East Bay Bonsai Society’s 2015 Auction at the Garden Center at Lake Merritt Park, 666 Bellevue Avenue on Wednesday, July 8th at 7:30pm (preview at 7:00 pm) featuring trees, pots, and bonsai items. For more information, visit www.eastbaybonsai.org.



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