June 2014


June 2014, Vol. 40, Issue 6

Chinese Elm - Tim Rostege

Chinese Elm – Tim Rostege


  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Midori Backyard Tour 2014
  • June Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

Presidents Message

JT PictureWe are almost halfway through the year and its prime time to work and improve our trees.  We have the summer to prepare for the show on October 4th so keep that in mind as you trim and shape your trees.

We also have to think about the end of the year when the present board will be looking for some new blood to carry on the work of the club.  We will be forming a nominating committee to create the new board.  I hope that everyone is comfortable enough with the club to want to help keep it running smoothly so think of what position you would like to volunteer for to accomplish that end.  If everyone does little parts, its not that hard on any one person.  Please, think about it.

We will be having interesting workshops and tours organized by Jack this summer.  So lots of fun in store for us all.

Enjoy this glorious summer.


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.

If this is too complicated for you and you would like to use an alternate method, cut all candles, regardless of size or strength, at the base.  Then pluck needles on the strongest areas to equalize the strength of the tree.  Since you have been fertilizing heavily to this point, pull off fertilizer and don’t resume until late in the summer when new candles are growing.  Regardless of the technique you use, you can regulate the growth to the tree by equalizing the needle load.

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, I Mixed up a concoction of ground rapeseed meal, , organic fertilizer ( E. B. Stone) and composted chicken manure.  I Mix this with a little fish emulsion and enough water  to make it stick together.  I use a one ounce jigger of the fertilizer and put two plops on a small tree or four on the corners of a larger tree.  The Nitrogen part should break down in about a month so I add a second dose at the 4 week mark etc. through the year.  Stretch it to 6 weeks if you are trying to keep a refined tree from growing out of shape.  Daily watering breaks it down steadily, and it also adds organic matter to my soil which is almost entirely aggregate.  The chicken manure is  Jongs Grow Better Organic Fertilizer, a composted and  palletized 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, ginkhos, and the like 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 Backyard Tour 2014

Saturday July 26th

Summer is now with us, and with that our Club’s yearly backyard tour is quickly approaching. This year we had three club members come forward and welcome us to their home and allow us a chance to see their collection of trees and grounds. And club members, we’re in for a real treat this year since we’ll be heading up into the hills of Los Gatos, the flat lands of San Jose, and the foothills of Cupertino. This should be a real adventure, concluding with a wine tasting afternoon at Don and Ronda Dunn’s home.

Our first morning stop: Danny Powell’s Home in San Jose. Danny is fairly new to Bonsai and our club, but over the past few years he has aquired quite a collection of trees that all of us admire and wish we had. He says that he’s running out of room now, but with the size of trees he collects theres no wonder. In addition, the club will provide a contentintal breakfast there that morning for everyone, so skip breakfast that morning.

Our Second morning stop: Jeff Escallier’s Home in Los Gatos. This will be a adventurous drive, since Jeff lives in the last house off a winding hillside road above Los Gatos. Jeff is new to our Club, he came up from Southern California, and has brought in many amazing trees at our workshops recently. So get ready to be amazed at his collection of bonsai at his hillside home. After our visit to Jeff’s home we can drive back to Los Gatos and catch a bite to eat there in town. But everyone will be on their own for lunch before we’re expected at our final destination.

Our Afternoon Final Stop: Don and Ronda Dunn’s home in Cupertino. Don has had a love affair for many years with bonsai and all types of plant material, their home and property is breathtaking. Their property will take you up hillside pathways and down to a waterfall area with a koi pond that is decorated with life like scultpure pieces. A truely wonderful place to sit down and enjoy the afternoon with a glass of wine and take it all in with your fellow bonsai members. Everyone visiting that afternoon will be asked to bring their favorite wine or beverage to share with everyone.

So plan now to enjoy this home tour with your fellow bonsai club members. Remember, all spouses and family members are invited to come along and enjoy this special event. A complete itinerary of times and addresses of each place we visit will be posted in a few weeks along with a Google map. As always, car pooling with fellow members to each location is encouraged, since parking will be tight.

If you have additional questions contact: Jack Christiansen (408 280-7539)

– Jack

June Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

June 5th – Annual 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 in this newsletter.  Please 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 specify an opening minimum bid if you like.

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

Tip for listing item – if the pot is special so indicate in the description this tends to maximize interest.
Don’t forget to bring a pen and your checkbook along with your bonsai related items for the auction!

– Gerry

June 19th – Club Photo Shoot

For the third Thursday meeting this month we’ll be doing our bi-annual photo shoot with Jim I. Please bring in 1-2 trees for us to photograph so that we can document them as they develop over the years. We’ll have a big backdrop this time (hopefully) so we should be able to handle the larger trees with relative ease.

Feel free to bring in any trees you want to be photographed whether they be finished, in training, or even unworked. It’s best if there’s a sight line to the trunk which isn’t covered by a nursery pot or dense foliage, but not required.  Also, if you have any display stands please bring those in as well for us to use. 

– Danny

2014 Meeting Schedule

Month 1st Thursday 3rd Thursday
June Annual Silent Auction Photo Shoot with Danny and Jim
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
June No formal display Mark Garrett & Don Lintz
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.

Northern California Bonsai Events

June 7 – 8, 2014, Oakland, California
California Suiseki Society: 19th Annual Show at Lakeside Garden Center on Lake Merritt, 666 Bellevue Ave. Show hours are 10 AM to 4 PM. Free admission. Featuring Suiseki collected and mounted by the members from sites in California. Raffle. Sales area offers Suiseki and viewing stones as well as Asian objects and artwork. For information, contact Henry van der Voort at oldboar3@gmail.com or Bob Gould at rgould1003@aol.com.

June 8, 2014, Seaside, California
Monterey Bonsai Club: 51st Annual Exhibition at the Monterey Buddhist Temple, 1150 Noche Buena Street. Show hours are 11 AM – 4 PM. Demonstration at 1:30 PM by Gareth Shepherd. Silent auction area will include bonsai, pots and plants. For more information: email Rich Guillen at richguillen@sbcglobal.net or Dianne Woods at vinca27@comcast.net.

June 14 – 15, 2014 Livermore, California
Valley Bonsai Society: 6th Annual Show at Alden Lane Nursery, 981 Alden Lane. Show hours are 10 AM to 4 PM on both days with demonstrations at noon by Mike Baker on Saturday and Sam Adina on Sunday. The finished trees will be raffled off at the end of the demonstration. Member’s sales table, and door prizes. Admission is free. For additional information contact Charles Harder at bonsainut@comcast.net

June 28 – 29, 2014, San Andreas, California
Calaveras Bonsai Club: Club’s first indoor show will be held at the Calaveras County Library, 1299 Gold Hunter Road, San Andreas. Free admission; show hours: Saturday 11 AM – 5 PM and Sunday 10 AM – 4 PM. Demos will be presented on both days at 1:30 PM. Members’ sale, vendors’ tables, beginners’ workshop on Saturday at 10 AM for $25 and an intermediate workshop Sunday at 10 AM for $30. Call or email contact below before June 15, for $5 workshop discount. For more information contact: Dan Balsley at (209) 603-1823 or emaildbalsley1@gmail.com.


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