March 2015


March 2015, Vol. 41, Issue 3

Boxwood- John Thompson

Boxwood- John Thompson


  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Editor’s Note
  • February Meeting Recap
  • March Meeting Topics & Club Calendar
  • 2015 Meeting Schedule
  • Northern California Bonsai Events
  • Pictures from the club winter photo shoot

Presidents MessageIMG_3634

Wow, I can’t believe its already March. Weather like its May, and yes it’s my favorite time of the year with many of our plants exhibiting new life and growth with longer days.  I truly relish spending time outdoors in the mornings with my bonsai plants. I’m now finishing up with trees that needed repotting or old wire taken off before the new growth takes off.   Looks like we’re heading into summer like weather early again with our annual rainfall way below average, so beware of conserving your water. I’m utilizing the water I take out of my Koi pond each week for watering many of my bonsai plants which has valuable nutrients from the fish waste.

If you have ever wondered how and where many of the show trees that have that great moss cover on them comes from just ask George Shoptaw.  Or, take part in our Third Thursdays meeting where George will get you started on the road to growing your own moss bed. Yes you can do it and you won’t need to crawl on your knees late at night undercover getting it done.

Looks like we’ll be back to the North Side Community Center again this year for our Fall bonsai show.  The Cherry Blossom facility that we where perusing as a new location is not possible at this time, but down the road a real possibility.  An added feature we will be including to this years bonsai show (Oct. 3rd ) will be awards.  Not for just the Best in Show Tree as in past years but awards broken up in three or four categories.  That should spark some great enthusiasm and drive to be the best you can be at our next show!

Over the recent years our club has had great attendance and participation at meetings we can all be proud of.  But look around you next time, there are those that are missing for various reasons.  Sometimes serious illnesses, injury of types, or just possible day to day issues that we all get caught up in and get depressed.  Each of us can be a support to those that are experiencing these issues, sometimes all it take is a simple phone call or a suggestion to pick them up on meeting nights.  All of us can make a difference if we reach out!

Jack Christiansen

JT’s Tree Tips

It started out great but hasn’t delivered enough to end the drought. Hope you’ve kept your trees watered.   With the non organic aggregate soils we now use there is very little chance of root rot so make sure that you keep them moist at all times.

Like a broken record: Transplant!! Keep transplanting until you run out of trees or the new growth forces you to stop. All other operations rely on your having an active, healthy tree and transplanting is the best way to accomplish this.

Most deciduous trees have started to bud or extend shoots but you may still be able to do trident maples or beeches or hornbeams.

Start on your conifers. But don’t bare-root conifers.   You could lose them. If there is any field soil it must be removed but if it is solid throughout, do half of it this year and the other half next year. The half you do this year will be able to support the tree when you do the other half next year.

Be sure to secure all trees in the pot with tie-down wires. If the tree is wobbly it will not develop lateral roots but will try to put down one or more tap roots again. Not what we want.

Broadleaf evergreens such as boxwoods and azaleas as well as junipers, and pines are repotted in February and March.  Be careful as this has been a warm winter and everything is moving. Needle juniper is an exception that can wait till May.

At this point, return your transplanted trees to a sunny location. It will warm and stimulate the roots and get them going faster. Do watch out for late frosts.

You can be styling and wiring your conifers. Big bends are O K until about mid March. Then you run the risk of detaching the cambium from the sapwood.

Don’t fertilize yet except for trees you want to fatten and young material in a pre-bonsai state. Not on mature trees you are refining.


Editor’s Note

Hey Folks,

We’re going to start doing  a monthly profile on member’s trees in the newsletter starting next month.  If you would like to participate please let me know as we’d love to hear the stories about your trees.  Any progressions or interesting stories around a particular tree along with a picture(s) is great.

Also this month there was a lot of talk about the recent Noleander’s Trophy in Belgium, probably the best show in Europe currently.  You can view some pictures from the event here as well as some video of some of the demos here.


February Meeting Recap

This past month we had a Bill Castelon give a talk on pine care and techniques.  In the second meeting we had a general workshop as well as our bi-annual photo shoot.  Please see below for the photos.

March Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

March 5th – Yamadori Junipers with Jim Gremel

This month we’re kicking off our first Thursdays meeting with Jim Gremel, famed bonsai nursery man and producer of some of the finest bonsai trees in Northern California.  Jim will be discussing how he has developed many of his famous twisted and contorted Yamadori style bonsai’s.  Jim’s trees have a hefty price tag if you’ve ever tried buy one, and there’s a good reason for that.  Jim’s trees look like they came right out of the high mountains that time and weather had  produced.  An artist that has taken many years to develop his unique Yamadori style that he will be sharing with us that evening.  In past years, Jim has brought starter shimpaku whips that some can wire and get a chance to twist and contort yourself that you can take home and start your own Yamadori.  So be ready for that opportunity if it comes your way that evening. I personally am a big fan of Jim’s, he always provides an evening of unexpected humor mixed with visual excitement and technique.  A fun and informative evening for sure!

March 19th – Growing Moss with George Shoptaw and general workshop

This month I will give a short presentation on collecting and growing moss the way I do it. This is the time to collect moss if you plan to grow it for our fall show.  I encourage others there to present any other method that I do not cover that they have found successful. This will be on the third Thursday.  -George


2015 Meeting Schedule

Month 1st Thursday 3rd Thursday
March Yamadori Junipers with Jim Gremel Growing Moss with George Shoptaw
April Tree Improvement with Gerry Fields Oak Tree Demo with JT
May Rock Plantings with Juan Cruz Developing Cascades with Jack Christiansen
June Annual Silent Auction Photo Shoot with Danny and Jim
July TBD 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
March Juan Cruz Juan Cruz & Tung Dao
April Seiji Shiba Carolyn Davis & Gerry Fields
May Ray Stagner Debe Kahn & Mark Garrett
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

Mar 14 – 15, 2015   Oakland, California
Bay Area Bonsai Associates: 34th Annual Bonsai Exhibition at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue. Show hours are Saturday 5 – 9 PM and Sunday 10 AM – 4 PM. Demonstrations by Matt Reel at 6:30 PM Saturday, followed by a raffle of the demonstration tree. Continuous plant sale including bonsai related items (pots, tools, soils, wires, books, etc.) both days. Matt Reel has studied bonsai in Japan for 8 years under Shinji Suzuki. Admission is free. Parking fee to the Lakeside Garden Center is required during the park hours. For more information, please contact Bob Gould at (925) 935-1914.

Mar 18 – 22, 2015 San Mateo, California
Bonsai Society of San Francisco: Annual Bonsai Exhibit at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive. Show hours Wednesday – Saturday 10 AM – 7 PM, and Sunday 10 AM – 6 PM. There will be demonstrations and trees for sale. For more information about the club, visit For group and early-bird ticket information to the Flower and Garden Show, visit

Mar 28 – 29, 2015 Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz Bonsai Kai: 27th Annual Show at the Museum of Art & History, 705 Front Street, 10 AM – 5 PM with demonstration at 2 PM (demonstrator TBA at a later date) both days. Raffle drawing for demonstration tree and trees expecially prepared by club members are part of the raffle each day. Sales area include vendor and member trees, pots, and other related bonsai items. Admission price to museum includes entry to bonsai show/demo and complementary coffee, tea and cookies. For more information contact Marc Shaw at

Mar 28 – 29, 2015 San Jose, California
San Jose Betsuin Bonsai Club: 45th Annual Bonsai Exhibition at San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, 640 North Fifth Street. Hours are Noon – 5 PM Saturday and 11 AM – 4 PM Sunday with demonstrations at 1 PM on both days by club members headed by Dr. Seiji Shiba. A benefit drawing will be held at each demo conclusion. Styled and pre-styled trees will be offered for sale. For more information, visit or email Ken Azuma at


Pictures from our Winter 2015 club photo shoot

This past meeting we did our bi-annual photo shoot. Here’s photos of everyone’s trees and they will also remain on the website under the gallery section.



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