June 2016


June 2016, Vol. 42, Issue 6



  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Editor’s Note
  • Photos from the Cherry Blossom Festival
  • Workshop at Machine
  • Companion Plant Talk
  • May Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

Presidents MessageIMG_3634

Now that May is over, and our two meetings based around the development of our redwoods trees given by Larry White is completed, I think we should have a good handle on our club members producing some mighty fine redwood bonsai’s in the future.   Thanks Larry for your timely support of that program and follow up at our workshop that Thursday evening.  My Redwood that I brought in that evening was in a rather full state of foliage, now that I have it home after being cut back and some branches wired I really feel good about the new direction the tree has for future development.  These trees will make for good show and tell items down the road that club members can share with our group on future meetings.

June is here, and with that, we have our Annual Silent Action to look forward to this Thursday’s meeting.  Here’s a chance for everyone in our club to gather up those unused bonsai items wether it be trees, pots, bonsai related magazines or books, soils, fertilizers, pest control items, or those tools you may have duplicates of.  Everything bonsai related will be excepted with the opportunity to pass on to other members having a timely need.  This is one of the club’s largest fund raiser for the year, so be generous with what you sell since the club will be supported by taking 20% of the item sold.  There will be a auction form needed to be filled out for each item sold and this you can down loaded with the E-mail you received with this news letter.  Include a short description of the item your selling along with the price your asking.  Over the years I’ve pick up many fine trees that are apart of my collection today that I purchased with our silent auction fundraiser.   So plan to have a great time that evening and be generous with what you plan to sell and purchase.

I just wanted to give everyone in the club a heads up if you would like to put a tree into our annual bonsai show this October.  Start selecting those trees now and make a special effort to make them show ready starting today.  We’re only four months out from that date and if you need club assistance to make this happen please bring those trees in to our next workshop.  Especially if your a new club member. Many of us are there for your questions and needed support since we would like everyone to have a share in our up and coming show.  Many of our new club members over the years have been thrilled to take part in what we call a division in our show called “Trees in Development” portion.  So nobody will be left out without a tree being shown on that special show day!

Have a great time working on your bonsai this month everyone!

Jack Christiansen

J T’s Tree TipsJT Picture

Finally its Candle cutting time!

BLACK PINES –   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 regularly for fungus on an ongoing basis.  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

Hi Folks,

Something slightly different this month, here’s a video made by a french potter creating a big pot.  If you like it he has lots of other videos available as well.



June Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

June 2nd – Annual Silent Auction

Our first Thursday meeting is our annual silent auction.  As Jack mentioned this is a chance for everyone in the club to buy and sell just about anything bonsai related.  This is one of the club’s largest fundraisers, so please be generous with what you sell as the club gets 20% of the item sold.

May 16th – Open Workshop

Our Third Thursday meeting workshop will be an open workshop so bring in your trees to work on.  It’s the perfect time to work on pines that need de-candling.

2016 Meeting Schedule

Month 1st Thursday 3rd Thursday
June Annual Silent Auction Open workshop
July Working with collected material w/Mike Pistello Photo Shoot with Danny and Jim
August Progressive Pine Development w/Jonas Dupuich Show prep workshop
September How to apply moss properly w/Juan Cruz Show organization program and show prep workshop
October Final show prep workshop Show review and workshop
November TBD Open workshop
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 June Auction, no formal display Roger Geerts & Don Lintz
July Gerry Fields Alec Maclean & Danny Powell
August Mehrdad Charosh Lewis Comba & Kent Bell
September Jeff Escallier Carol Fairchild & Seiji Shiba
October Seiji Shiba George Shoptaw & Kathy Sloan
November Danny Powell 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 4 and 5, 2016San Mateo, California
Sei Boku Bonsai Kai: 33rd Annual Show at the San Mateo Garden Center. 605 Parkside Way (next to Beresford Park). Show hours are 10 AM to 4 PM both days, with demonstration by Dennis Makishima from Noon – 3 PM on Saturday (tree will be raffled off at the conclusion of demo). Sunday Dennis will lead an open view workshop from Noon – 3 PM. Large club member plant sale, vendors, door prizes and our always popular raffles. Admission is free. Dr. Bonsai will be available to offer styling and care tips. For more information contact Marsha Mekisich ateclectic.gardener@yahoo.com.

June 12, 2016, Seaside, California
Monterey Bonsai Club: 53rd 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 18 – 19, 2016, Livermore, California
Valley Bonsai Society: 8th annual show at Alden Lane Nursery, 981 Alden Lane. Show hours are 10 AM – 4 PM on both days with demonstration by an expert bonsai artist at 1 PM. The finished trees will be raffled off at the end of the demonstration. Member’s sales table. Admission is free. For additional information contact Charles Harder at bonsainut@comcast.net


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