June 2013


June 2013, Vol. 39, Issue 6



  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Midori Member Profile
  • Club Announcement: 2013 Backyard Tour
  • May Meeting Recap
  • June Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

Presidents Message

JT PictureThis time of year is a busy one for all in bonsai.  We’re wiring deciduous trees, cutting candles on black pines, fertilizing, watering a couple of times a day – lots of stuff.  Remember to work on those trees that you want to show this year.  Work done now will have you ready this September.  We recently had a meeting of the show committee.  There are still slots open for the backdrops and plenty of openings for jobs at the show itself.  Its always more effective and more fun if everyone is participating in the show so we hope to see you all pitching in to make this years show a great one.

This month is the yearly silent auction.  This is one of our few fundraisers.  Be as generous as you can.  You may donate 20% or more to the Club and / or to the Pat Gee Educational Fund.

This year, as we have in the past,  the Pat Gee fund will be sponsoring a club member in the Federation’s “Power of One” program at the GSBF Convention in Burbank  October 31st to Nov. 3rd.  We will pay for the registration for that individual with the proviso that he/she shares his experience with the club.  Getting to see how bonsai is carried out and tight in other parts of country (headliners are from out of state) helps to broaden ones perspective on the art form.  This year’s lucky recipient is Jim  Wallace.  Congratulations, Jim!!


J T’S Tree Tips

BLACK PINES – its just about candle cutting time.   From now until early July is the time to do it.  Larger trees  first then shohin in early July.   However the foolproof and best time (it’s not so much a time or date as it is a condition) is when the new NEEDLES extend out and away from the candles.  Weak candles that have not extended at all leave intact.  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 candle area a head start in developing uniform budding.  If your needles don’t extend by the end of June cut them back anyway.  You must allow sufficient time to form the new buds.  Much later and they may not set well.

FERTILIZE your trees regularly.  If you keep your trees healthy throughout the year, they can stand up to the extraordinary work we want to do with them.  I have described the use of organic fertilizer each year.  This year at the beginning of May, I Mixed up a concoction of ground rapeseed meal, cottonseed meal, organic fertilizer and composted chicken manure.  I mix it dry and put about an ounce into an empty tea bag that I got at an oriental market.  I then put  3 or 4 of these bags on the soil surface around the trunk of each tree.   I water the bags as I water the tree and it keeps the fertilizer damp and in a state where it will break down steadily, and it adds organic matter to my soil which is almost entirely aggregate.  The chicken manure is  Jongs Grow Better Organic Fertilizer, a composted and  pelleted fertilizer from chicken manure chicken.  I got it at Regans nursery on Decoto Road off 880.
Alternately, or in conjunction with the above, you can also use chemical fertilizer as either the primary or secondary system.  In addition, a product like Dyna – Grow® or Miracle Grow® has all the trace elements that the plant needs.    I have also used Bayers 2 in 1 Rose food and systemic insecticide product.

For most trees in the developing stage,  the initial shoot that has come out this year should be wired.  You want to get movement for about the first three buds, or about 2 1/2 inches, that you will let grow and thicken until autumn.  Then you will cut back to those three buds. This will set the movement and give you taper when the next years growth comes out and you wire the shoots from these three buds.  Following this yearly pattern you will increase the buds to nine the following year (3 x 3) and 27 the next year (3 x 3 x 3).  Each year the sections nearest the trunk will get a little thicker than the ones farthest out on the branch and give you increasing ramification and natural taper.

PINCHING  AND PRUNING.  This is an important time of the year to keep the growth pinched back or pruned back on refined trees. These are the trees that you want to show this year or are at a highly refined level.
Pinching on refined trees, is done with the fleshy pads of the thumb and forefinger, not the nails.  It is used to pluck the new succulent growth back to 1 to 3 leaves before it has begun to elongate.  By pinching it at this juvenile stage it stops the internodes (space between the leaves) from elongating.  If you don’t catch it, the space between these leaves will stretch like a pulled rubber band until the shoot starts to form wood and the elongation process stops.  By pinching it, the wood making process begins immediately, thus keeping the internodes compact.  The farther out on the tree this is done the more crucial this work is.  This is a handy technique to keep shoots from jumping out of the branch silhouette you have established.

Pruning is cutting back with scissors.  If you try to pinch a shoot and it is hard to do or leaves a hardened core at the site, wood has formed and you need to use bonsai shears.  Sometime the initial growth has gotten so long, i.e. the first leaf is too far out on the shoot, that the entire shoot must be cut back to the base and started over.  Otherwise, the ramification will look odd and the effect will look bad.  Pruning is also performed to shape the structure of the tree, or to induce back budding.

AIR LAYERING.  The May and June time-frame is the perfect time to air layer a tree. If you have an interesting top or branch of a tree and what is under it is ugly, you have a candidate for this operation.   Determine the angle and front of the proposed new tree on the existing trunk.  Draw a line on the trunk and then use a sharp knife to cut the top line all the way around the trunk.  Mark another line around the trunk about one trunk diameter below the first line.  Then remove all of the bark between the two horizontal cuts making sure to removed all the bark down to the cambium layer and a little into the xylem or newest wood.  Treated the bark area just above the upper cut with the rooting hormone Dip n grow®.  Then wrap wet sphagnum moss around the trunk 2 inches above and below the exposed, barkless area and place a plastic bag around the moss.  Tie it above and below with wire to hold the sphagnum moss in place against the barkless area.   Put some black plastic bag material over the plastic wrap to shade the area from the sun. Water it regularly and check periodically to be sure that the sphagnum moss is damp and to see if any new roots have formed.   Rotate the tree weekly to insure uniform root formation around trunk.  Don’t remove any branches or foliage during this layering time period.  Roots will form faster if the growth is unchecked above the layer.  6 to 8 weeks should do it for most deciduous trees.  Conifers take longer and in some cases may take up to 2 years to root out before you can separated from the under-tree.

SPRAY appropriately when you see critters or fungus problems.  Try doing it in the early evening so it doesn’t immediately burn the foliage in the hot sun. Take care of pest problems now before they become more serious.
To increase ramification and get smaller leaves, partially defoliate deciduous trees except beeches this month through the middle of July.  The upper and stronger regions of the tree can be fully defoliated on many trees to allow sun to get below.  Partially defoliate about 2/3 of the exterior areas of your tree where you need more vigor and ramification.  Leave those areas towards the inside of the tree in leaf.


Midori Member Profile

This Month: Mark Garrett

Name and Age: Mark Garrett and I’ve just turn 59 in may.

How did you get started in bonsai: I remember seeing a bonsai tree in a movie when I was about eight years old and all I kept thinking about was how cool it looked and how they kept it so small. When I was about twenty a friend gave me a bonsai stater kit. Well knowing nothing about bonsai, I started the seeds and they grew and then they died. Another friend got me started in growing plants and I had better luck.  I tried my hand at shaping the trees and friends thought the trees where cool looking, but I knew they were just so so. By that time, I had acquired some pretty nice plant stock and so I thought it was time to learn the art of bonsai. About eight to ten years ago I went to the cherry blossom festival. That was my introduction to the Midori Bonsai Club and where I met Larry White and John Thompson putting raffia on a tree. I was amazed. I watched for about three to four hours. I joined the next meeting. About eight months later I had to leave the club because of work and medical. Now I’m back with the club and very excited. I’ve met some really nice people and I’m learning a lot.

How long have you been doing bonsai: I’ve been growing trees off and on about 30 years and learning bonsai about a year.

What is your favorite specimen: I would have to say Japanese maples, Blue Atlas Cedar and redwoods.

What is your favorite style: Informal upright and cascade. As I see and learn more about bonsai techniques and the different kinds of trees, I develop new favorites.

Who is your favorite artist: At this time I’m not to familiar with a lot of the artist but I like Kathy Shaner, Harry don’t know his last name. Our club has a number of excellent artist. One comes to mind is Larry White, I really like his work. Seeing the quality of trees coming out of the Midori Club keeps me wanting to learn more and at the same time improve the quality of my own trees.

How much time are you spending on your bonsai a week: I spend about 15 to 20 minutes a day watering. About 45 minutes a day picking pine needles and leaves from trees and pots. I try to work on 1 tree or more a day.

How many yamadori trees do you have: I have about 20 collected and some were given to me and some were bought from club shows and our own auctions.


Club Announcement: 2013 Garden Tour

Save the date: Saturday July 6th!

This Year our Club is back to visiting three of our club members homes, all within a short driving distance from each other. We’ll follow the tours with a potluck barbeque to finish off a great day of bonsai and good fellowship.

A flyer with all the detailed information will go out to club members via email. Feel free to ask Jack Christiansen or any of our club board members for more information.


May Meeting Recap

Last month we had a great meeting about multi-trunk and forest bonsai. Here’s a few photos from the meeting.


June Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

June 6th – Silent Auction

This month, we will have our annual June Silent Auction. It’s always a fun time. So look over all your bonsai stuff and see what you might be willing to part with and bring it on down to the silent auction.  You’ll find a silent auction bid sheet with this newsletter.  You will need to make copies of it and fill one out for each item you’d like to sell. More copies will be available at the meeting. You can put an opening minimum bid if you like.

This event is a fundraiser for Midori and a 20% donation will be welcomed for each item sold. Of course, if you’d like to donate more than the 20% minimum, it would be alright. Donations go toward Club  operating expenses or to the Pat Gee Educational Fund which helps to further bonsai education for club members.

Don’t forget to bring a pen and your checkbook along with your bonsai related items for auction!

FYI –We won’t be having a show and tell, or a formal tree display this month.





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