May 2014


May 2014, Vol. 40, Issue 5


  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival
  • Editor’s Note
  • April Meeting Recap
  • Special Event Announcement
  • May Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

Presidents Message

JT PictureBy the time we meet on May 1st, we will have already enjoyed the weekend at the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival. This is always a fun even and one of my personal favorites. Thanks to all who participated in the weekend event.

Plants are growing with a vengeance at this point. Now is a great time to work on your deciduous trees as the growth is hardening off, making it the perfect time to wire and set movement in the branches of the trees. Have fun and share those things that are working well for you with the rest of the club. That’s the best thing about being in a club – sharing and learning with each other.

This coming weekend (May 3rd and 4th) don’t forget to visit and support the San Jose Betsuin Bonsai Club annual bonsai exhibition. Harry Hirao will be demonstrating both days at 1pm at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin on 5th Street and Jackson in San Jose. You can pick up some good material and pots at the show sale area.

– JT

J T’S Tree Tips

May is a big time in bonsai.  For all but the show ready refined trees, we want to wire the first few inches of the new shoots once they have hardened off.  This is the area that we will cut back to in the fall.  This is the beginning or continuation of ramification for the branch and will pay big dividends later on.  Don’t cut back and pinch these shoots now.  This will help to thicken and set the movement of the branch.  Watch the wire so it doesn’t cut in.   You may need to remove the wire and rewire with a larger size to keep the shape.  If you didn’t cut back to where you need the branch to start, do so now and then when a new shoot appears and then hardens, wire it and follow the above procedure.

On trees that have the shape you want, let the shoot extend to four or five leaves and then cut back to one or two.  Or when there are shoots extended, cut back beyond the beginning of the shoot and into the woody branch and wire any new shoots that pop from there into the new branch tips.  Many times we need to do this to get the taper back under control.

On developing trees that need thickening of trunk or branches, loosely wire the beginning of the branch and let the tips run wild.  This should give you a section of branch that you can cut back later that will have shape and girth.  But watch out for the wire digging in.  It may only take a matter of a couple of weeks while it sets.

Black Pine: Pinch off 1/2 of overly long candles.  We will cut the candles from the end of this month through next month depending on when the needles come about half an inch out and pull away from their sheaths.

White Pine: Pinch off all but 4 sets of needles on succulent healthy candles and none on weaker ones.  We will not be cutting the candles entirely off as in Black Pines.

Spruces, cedars, Redwoods and the like: Pinch off 2/3 of the succulent new shoot as it emerges with the fleshy parts of your finger tips (not the nails).

Azaleas: if you wish to enjoy the flowers, wait until they have finished about 3/4 of the blooms before stripping all the buds off and cutting back to two shoots and two leaves.

I have noticed that sometimes on the same branch, there are shoots with short internodes and some with longer internodes.  Sometimes the shorter ones don’t extend out.  If they don’t extend, don’t bother to pinch them. But if they are elongating, do pinch them short.   Shoots are elastic.  The buds contain all of the new leaves when they first push out, but as they grow out into a shoot, the inter-nodal distances between the leaves stretch out like a rubber band.  Before the internodes get too long, you can pinch them.  This will stop the elongation process and start the hardening process of lignification (wood formation).  After they have elongated they form wood and can no longer be pinched and must be cut with scissors.

This is a big time for pest and weed control so be prepared to do battle with everything from aphids to snails and dandelions to oxalis. Spray and bait for those critters.  Barry Coate suggested something with Merit in it like Bayer’s 12 Month Tree and Shrub.  While pinching, examine your tree for any signs of stress, disease or insects.  Remember to look on the underside of the leaves, as there are many sneaky pests that hide there.  Mealy bug, spider mites, moth and beetle – a small number of bugs can wreak havoc and ruin the foliage before you know it.  Scale, aphids, beetles, etc. are best dealt with now before they burrow and suck your tree dry.    When watering, spray from the bottom and all around the tree to wash as many as possible away.  Pick off those that are stubborn. If you still see signs of their presence, spray with a solution of Malathion®.   On healthy trees in pots fertilize continuously with organic fertilizers with an intermittent shot of Dyna-Grow or some other water soluble fertilizer.  We have discussed this at various meetings and will speak of it again at this months main meeting.

Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival

The Cherry Blossom Festival was great this year as always. Jack was nice enough to take some photos of the display both days! Here’s some of the highlights

Editor’s Note

This month’s program is all about soil, or more accurately, planting medium for bonsai. I thought I’d share a few articles that I’ve come across on the topic.

What you should and should not put in your bonsai soil mix is probably the biggest topic in the bonsai world (at least the bonsai world outside of Japan). Most of the controversy falls around the mainstay planting medium for trees inside Japan, akadama. Here’s a great article from Bonsai Empire, where they interview 5 different non-Japanese bonsai experts about different kinds of soil mixes they use, and of course, get a range of opinions on the use of akadama.

The other article is actually a two parter from a bonsai blogger, Adam’s Art and Bonsai Blog (note: it’s not my blog). These two posts contain the most detailed information about different kinds of soil components, all of which are available to us in the US, that I have ever seen. The first post covers about 10 different soil components, and the second post covers another 3 components. This is probably everything you will ever need to know, and more, about bonsai soil!

– Adam Butterfield

April Meeting Recap

Last month we had the always great Tree Improvement Program, hosted once again by Gerry. People brought in some great trees, and got some great advice. Here’s some photos from the meeting.

Special Event Announcement

Larry White’s Day Long Workshop
Date, Saturday June 14th, Hours 8:30am to 5:30pm

Yes, Larry has come forward and offered his work place (aka Machine) for a day long workshop for all Midori members that would like to spend the day working on their bonsai’s together.
Larry says that he has plenty of space to accommodate everyone interest in this workshop. And lunch will be provided by the club in the way of a BBQ. Steaks, chilli, and whatever else we come up with that will certainly please everyone’s appetite.
What a great chance to rub shoulders with some of our club’s best teachers and get work done on your bonsai at the same time. Bring your own tools and wire and whatever equipment you need to style your own trees.
This is a one day opportunity for everyone in the club, so plan now to be there and enjoy the food and bonsai crazed group.

– Jack Christiansen

May Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

May 1st – Soil, Fertilizer, and Water with JT

This month our program will be a review and discussion of Soil, Water and Fertilizer led by JT.  We will discuss different soils used for bonsai and available to us.  We will also talk about water and fertilizer and how these three  elements relate to each other and how to use them to our advantage in making better bonsai.  Bring samples of your soil, and ask questions and share your success and failures with these three elements.

Special note from Larry:

As you may have heard, Joel Miller graciously donated quite a few “pre-bonsai” plants to Midori. These trees were grown in the ground over several years and are now planted in medium sized shallow boxes. This donation is to directly benefit the club. The Midori Board decided that we’d bring one of these trees to each meeting and put it up for silent auction, the first of which will be at the May general meeting on May 1st. If you’re interested, bring your checkbook…or cash, and see if you’ll be the lucky winner of some good plant material.

– Larry White

May 15th – Soil Mixing Workshop

Take all that knowledge soil knowledge you’ll have after the 1st Thursday meeting, and come have a hand at mixing your own bonsai soil. Bring in any soil components you have, and join in on the fun. Also, JT will bring in some of his sifted and reclaimed bonsai soil and akadama to mix some soil for members that don’t have any soil components.  A limited amount of soil will be available to club members to purchase.

2014 Meeting Schedule

Month 1st Thursday 3rd Thursday
May Soil, Fertilizer, and Water with JT Soil Mixing Workshop
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
May Gerry Fields Roger Geerts & Sebastian Girard
June June Auction, 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

May 3, 2014, Jackson, California
Amador Bonsai Society: 13th Annual Bonsai Show to be held in conjunction with the Sierra Madre Garden Club and the Mother Lode Rose Society Flower Show and Exhibition, “Beauty of the Mother Lode” at the Amador County Senior Center, 229 New York Ranch Rd. Free admission. Hours 10 AM – 4 PM. My First Bonsai class held at 11 AM and 2 PM; cost is $20. For more information, contact Juliene Hiatt at or visit

May 3 – 4, 2014, Sacramento, California
Sacramento Bonsai Club: 68th Annual Bonsai Show at the Sacramento Buddhist Church, 2401 Riverside Blvd. Noon – 5 PM Saturday and 11 AM – 4 PM Sunday with demonstrations on both days at 2 PM by Sam Adina. Benefit drawings, Plant & tree sales. For more information, contact Lucy Sakaishi-Judd at or visit

May 3 – 4, 2014, San Jose, California
San Jose Betsuin Bonsai Club: 44th Annual Bonsai Exhibition and Demonstration at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, 640 North Fifth Street. Noon – 5 PM Saturday and 11 AM – 4 PM Sunday with demonstrations on both days at 1 PM by “Mr. California Juniper” Harry Hirao. Styled and pre-styled trees will be offered for sale on both days. For more information, contact Ken Azuma at or visit

May 4, 2014, Watsonville, California
Watsonville Bonsai Club:  41st Annual Bonsai Exhibit at the Watsonville Buddhist Temple, 423 Bridge St. Over 50 outstanding bonsai, large and small, young and old, will be on display from 10 AM to 4 PM. An afternoon demonstration by Don White will be held at 1:30 PM. A raffle of bonsai items, plants and the demo tree will follow. Tea & cookies will be served. Plenty of parking for vehicles of all sizes. Even for group outings. A vendor will be available to sate your plant appetite for bonsai or otherwise. For more information please call Don White, 831-724-9283 or E-mail:

May 17 – 18, 2014 Sacramento, California.
Satsuki Aikokai Association of Sacramento: Annual show of flowering satsuki azalea bonsai at Shepard Garden Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd. Hours are Saturday 10 AM – 5PM, and 10 AM – 4PM, with demonstrations at 1 PM on both days. Satsuki information booth, vendors, raffles, etc. For more information contact; Ronn Pigram (916) 428-8505 or

May 17 – 18, 2014, Oakland, California
Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai presents their annual Satsuki Azalea Bonsai exhibition on Saturday May 17 from 10am-5pm and Sunday May 18 10am-4pm. Trees will be in full bloom for a colorful show. An Educational Forum will be presented at 1 pm on Saturday, with experts on hand all day to answer questions. Noted bonsai teacher and artist Johnny Uchida will do a demonstration on satsuki styling Sunday starting at 1 pm. Free admission, benefit drawings, and a sales area featuring beginner material as well as imported specimens from Japan. Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue, Oakland, CA. Parking available

May 31 – June 1, 2014, San Mateo, California
Sei Boku Bonsai Kai: 31st Annual Show at the San Mateo Garden Center, 605 Parkside Way, next to Beresford Park. Admission is free. Show hours are 10 AM to 4 PM. Peter Tea will be conducting a demonstration Saturday and open viewing workshop Sunday from Noon – 3pm both days. Raffle, door prizes, vendor sales, and member plant sales will be featured. There will also be Dr. Bonsai to answer questions regarding bonsai care. For additional information contact Marsha Mekisich at 650-477-4761.



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