June 2015


June 2015, Vol. 41, Issue 6

Boxwood- Jack Christiansen

Boxwood- Jack Christiansen


  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Editor’s Note
  • May Meeting Recap
  • Former Club Member Donates $650
  • June Tree Profile
  • June Meeting Topics & Club Calendar
  • 2015 Meeting Schedule
  • Northern California Bonsai Events

Presidents MessageIMG_3634

    This month for our first Thursday meeting we’ll be having our yearly Silent Auction fund raiser.  Get ready to pick up some great deals and support our clubs funds for the year! Gerry Fields will be running the program as in past years and should prove to be a fun night trying to out bid your fellow club member for that special item you desperately need. Yes, you have to come up with the best price per item before the clock runs out.  But all of this can’t happen without our club members bringing in the goods in support of this program.  So lets get serious and drag out those seldom used items that you keep tripping over, or trees that you have too many of and would rather have the cash instead!
    Our third Thursday program will once again give everyone a chance to have their trees photographed.  Danny and Jim will be there ready and set up with the portable studio and all you need to do is watch.  We are asking everyone to bring back their former trees that where photographed before so we can see the progression of development.
      I had a great time sharing my cascade trees with everyone this past Thursday and was excited about the trees you brought in for suggestions. Its always nice to see what everyone is doing and I hope I gave everyone some good ideas to aid them with their cascades down the road.  If you have additional questions come up to me at the next meeting.
     At our last board meeting we all agreed to provide awards at our yearly bonsai show for those deserving trees. There will be four categories, best tree on large backdrop, best tree on medium backdrop, best shohin tree, and best tree displayed on the long run backdrop. The wining trees will be judged by everyone in the club with a paper form that will be passed out and filled in with voting information.  What a great incentive for everyone to really extend themselves with that perfect tree and be awarded for it at our show.
     June is the time of year for refining those bonsai trees and keeping up with the watering, fertilizing, and cutting back those extending branches.  Have a great summer everyone!

Jack Christiansen

JT’s Tree Tips

Think about what you want to show in this years October 10th Midori show. Getting it cleaned up and wired now will give it the whole summer to fill in and look great for showtime.

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.


Editor’s Note

Hey Folks,

Thanks to Jack for getting us started with this month’s tree profile which you can find below.  If you have a tree you’d like us to feature please let me know.

Just in time for de-candling season this month’s interesting blog is from Eric Schrader just up in San Francisco which you can find here.  He’s been developing a number of Japanese Black Pines over the last decade or so and has done a great job of tracking their progress and blogging about it.


May Meeting Recap

This past month Juan did a rock planting demo which Jack did a write up on:

I would like to thank Juan Cruz for his fine rock planting demonstration he provided for us this past month.  What a great rock he found and the way he was able to plant the two junipers right on the flat side of the rock was quite impressive.  Half way through the program I was still a none believer and worried if the hole attachment process was going to happen.  But you pulled it off Juan, and what a nice rock planting you now have for the future.  -Jack


The third Thursday meeting this past month had Jack give a talk on cascade bonsai in addition to our club workshop.  Jack brought in some great examples and gave us a lot of inspiration to start some cascades.

Former Club Member Donates $650.00

Two weeks ago I received an E-mail from Rita Curbow a member of the Kusamura Bonsai Club stating that they had a club member that wanted to donate $650.00 to our club.   I must say I was quite perplexed upon hearing this statement, and rightfully so, thinking this must be some kind of computer hack hoax.  Well, after reading the e-mail carefully and then calling JT about this former club member it all came together.  If you were around our club 15 years ago a gentleman by the name of Bill Scott, a long time club member, still remembers the fond memories of his days with the Midori Club.

Bill for the last 15 years has been with the Kusamura Club and has over the years acquired quite a large collection of trees. Bill is now older and physically challenged and he saw many of his trees were in disrepair and he needed to pass them along.  Through various fund raisers with the help of the Kusamura Club Bill was able to reduce his collection to a manageable size.  The final tree’s donated by Bill was to GSBF’s Mammoth Bazaar fund raiser over a two year period that brought in $650.00 which the club thought would go back to GSBF.  But no, Bill wanted that money to go back to his old former club Midori, as a final form of gratitude.

So on our First Thursday’s meeting the night of our silent auction Rita Curbow with Kusamura will be presenting a check of $650.00 to Midori and would like to donate it in honor of Bill Scott. There will be a short presentation at the beginning of our meeting along with a photo taken of the event. Unfortunately Bill will not be present that evening, but today Bill is happy, healthy and is enjoy his trees and the art of bonsai!

Thanks a Million Bill, Jack Christiansen

June Tree Profile – Rock Planting of a Wind Swept Juniper

  I had bought this unusual looking rock at our last bonsai show from Dave  Chimpkey with the intent of planting a wind swept type tree in it.  I have had this tree for many years but was never really happy with where it was going since it was a broom style tree at the time.  Last year I had cut the tree way back with the intent of restyling it down the road.  After looking at the rock and tree I realized that the two may make for a interesting combination since the tree was now very minimal and would easily fit into the space that the rock provided.  I took a few pictures along the way that will help you understand how I incorporated a small growing container beneath the rock that I cut to fit the rock shape that allowed for a greater root capacity and still not be visible from the front viewing side.  As you can tell the tree has not been wired and styled as yet, but this fall after the tree has had time to conform to its new home and is up and growing good I plan to start bending the branches for a wind sweep look. Next Spring I’ll take a few follow up photos so you can see how the planting is shaping up.  This project was inspired by Mehrdad Chavosh who gave a Wind Swept program this past February.
Photo #1:  Here you can see the type of container I used that was easily cut with scissors and flexible enough to conform the plastic to the rock form with crazy glue.  This is the bottom side and back of the rock that is not visible from the front.  This container will now provide additional soil for the plant threw a small hole that the rock provides from above.
Photo #2:  Provides a closer view of the now glued container all around so it is completely enclosed and ready to be filled with bonsai soil from above.
Photo #3:  Provides a view from the top side area of the rock where the placement of the tree will be planted with a view of the hole that will allow the roots of the plant to go threw into the soil container below.  In addition we see the wire tie downs that are glued to the rock with crazy glue and a mixture of tile groat.
Photo #4:  Shows the hole rock and assembly of the tree tie downs ready for the tree to be placed in it position.  Unfortunately I didn’t take photos of this procedure, but with the cutting back of the trees roots it fit nicely on to the rock and was secured well with the wire tie downs.  This tree would have never fit in its position had it not been for a hole that allowed additional soil space for the plant below.  A nice little trick that certain rocks provide.
Photo #5:  The final planting with the tree secured in place and a layer of mud muck over the top soil that provides a container brier so the soil will not wash away when watering.  On top of that a planting of moss that covers the muck that allows for a more cosmetic look.  The tree now three months later is doing great with new growth and some wires attached that is bending some of the larger branches in their new position.  More photos to come next year!


June Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

June 2nd – Annual Silent Auction

Our first meeting will be our annual silent auction.  Please bring in trees, pots, tools, or anything else bonsai related that you want to sell.  This is a good chance for you to get some new stock, sell some old stock, and support the club while you’re at.  See the president’s message above for more info and bring your items to sell as well as your checkbooks.

June 16th – Semi-annual photo shoot and general workshop

For our second meeting we’ll be doing our bi-annual photo shoot.  Bring 2-3 trees that you would like to document the progress on.  Now would be a good time to bring the trees we photographed two years ago when we first started to see how they improved.  We will do the same format as the last few years, but do your best to have everything cleaned (pot, soil, and tree) and ready pictures.  Please bring in no more than three trees per person to be photographed so that we have enough time to get to everyone.


2015 Meeting Schedule

June Annual Silent Auction Photo Shoot with Danny and Jim
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
June TBD Roger Geerts & Don Lintz
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

June 6 – 7, 2015, San Mateo, California
Sei Boku Bonsai Kai: 32nd Annual Show at the San Mateo Garden Center, 605 Parkside Way, next to Beresford Park. Admission is free. Hours are 10 AM to 4 PM; with Bonsai Master, David Nguy, conducting a demonstration Saturday and open viewing workshop Sunday from Noon – 3 PM, both days. Raffle and door prizes will be drawn both days at 3pm. Vendor sales, and member plant sales will be featured. Dr. Bonsai will be available to answer questions regarding bonsai care. For additional information contact Marsha Mekisich at (650) 477-4761.

June 13 – 14, 2015   Oakland, California
California Suiseki Society: 20th Annual Show at the Lakeside Garden Center on Lake Merritt, 666 Belleview Ave. Free admission. Hours: 10 AM to 4 PM. Featuring our best stones collected from California sites over the last two decades under our late beloved sensei, Felix Rivera. The sales area will feature Suiseki books and magazines (many out of print)  as well as Suiseki and Viewing Stones from members’ collections. For information, contact Henry van der Voort at oldboar3@gmail.com or Bob Gould at rgould@aol.com.

June 14, 2015 Seaside, California
Monterey Bonsai Club: 52nd Annual Exhibition at the Monterey-Peninsula Buddhist Temple, 1150 Noche Buena Street. Show hours are from 11 AM – 4 PM with a demonstration at 1:30 PM by Katsumi Kinoshita. There will be a benefit drawing for bonsai trees. Silent auction area will include bonsai trees, pots and pre-bonsai material. For more information contact Rich Guillen at richguillen@sbcglobal.net or Dianne Woods at vinca27@comcast.net.

June 20 – 21, 2015 Livermore, California
Valley Bonsai Society: 7th annual show at Alden Lane Nursery, 981 Alden Lane. Show hours are 10 AM to 4 PM both days with demonstration by an expert bonsai artist at 1 PM. Finished trees will be raffled off at the end of the demonstration and members sales table. Admission is free. For additional information contact Charles Harder at bonsainut@comcast.net



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