May 2015


May 2015, Vol. 41, Issue 5

Prostrata Juniper- Seiji Shiba

Prostrata Juniper- Seiji Shiba


  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Editor’s Note
  • April Meeting Recap
  • Report from the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival
  • May Meeting Topics & Club Calendar
  • Photo’s from Jack’s vacation
  • 2015 Meeting Schedule
  • Northern California Bonsai Events

Presidents MessageIMG_3634

If you noticed that I wasn’t at our yearly Cherry Blossom Festival show this year, you were correct. A vacation planned months earlier kept me away from a show I dearly enjoy and look forward to each year.  Why do so many events in our lives always seem to coincide together so that we must make these difficult decisions.

I’m home now after a truly wonderful vacation throughout Southern California and Northern Arizona.  A trip that got my wife and I outdoors rubbing shoulders with mother earth in some of our countries most beautiful landscape and trees that would make your toes curl.  I took many pictures along the way, maybe I’ll submit a few for our news letter if space permits this month.

After talking with JT this morning, it looks like the Cherry Blossom Festival was well received and we were able to get some outside exposure from the local paper.  Thanks to everyone who took part and provided trees and helped in answering questions from the local public as they worked on their trees both Saturday and Sunday.

If you where wondering about our bonsai show for this years event location, it has now been finalized. After looking at and searching numerous locations throughout the area and finding out if dates would work out for us, we settled on the church where we had our show at the Japan Town Festival.  The facility was priced right, the lighting was very good, and from what we did years earlier our show and demo will all fit within the one single large room.  So its on with the show and preparations!

May is a beautiful time of year for seeing our trees taking off and putting off some of their greatest growth.  Staying ahead of all of this growth is important. Didn’t all of us benefit from JT’s meeting part on caring for our oak trees and the styling guide he passed out.   Thanks JT for your help!

This month’s program highlights our own Juan Cruz, who plans to show us his technique for a bonsai rock planting.  Juan says he has a different approach to this style, so you’ll want to be there to see how this all unfolds.   I’ll be doing the Third Thursday meeting part with a continuing program with cascade style tree development.  Have a great month doing bonsai everyone, and see you at our next meeting.

Jack Christiansen

JT’s Tree Tips

We actually got some rain in April. Nice but not enough. We are all watering now, in earnest, as the growing season is in full swing.

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: Don’t worry about overly long candles. We will cut the candles from the end of this month through June depending on when the needles come about half an inch out and pull away from their sheaths. Feed up to the time you candle cut.

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 (imidacloprid) in it like Bayer’s 12 Month Tree and Shrub or Bayer’s Merit 0.5g granular insecticide. 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.


Editor’s Note

Hey Folks,

We’re going to start  a monthly profile on member’s trees in the newsletter soon.  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 pictures is great.  Please reach out to me directly if you have a tree you want to have featured.

This month’s interesting blog is from The Netherlands out the of the Ginkgo Bonsai Center which you can find here.  He posts regularly and has a lot of world class trees.


April Meeting Recap

This past month Jerry provided us with his annual tree critique providing tips and styling advice on everyone’s trees.  On the third Thursday JT talked about oak bonsai culture and styling.  Here are a few pictures from both days.


Report from the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival

This last weekend we had the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival and it was a great success. Thank you all for participating. The displays were great and different for each day. Plus, we got exposure in the San Jose Mercury News (Sunday Local Section) with Larry White being interviewed and a pic of Larry and Ray Stagner working on their junipers. Way to go, guys!!

Photo’s from Jack’s Vacation

As some of you may have noticed our President Jack was missing from the last meeting while he was on vacation.  However he was nice enough to provide us with a number of photos from his trip (including some cool trees) so enjoy!

May Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

May 7th – Rock Plantings with Juan Cruz

For this month’s demo I will be talking about rock plantings. This is one of my favorite styles and I have been working on trying to collect the right rock for quite some time.

With rock plantings, the rock itself can and should add the mood of the composition, so it is very important that you choose the right rock. If the rock is not interesting, then the composition will not be as well. To this end, I have chosen the following rock that has taken me 3 years to find.

This is such a nice rock, that I hope I can do this rock justice.  Untitled

For further reading on rock plantings, you can pick up a copy of Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai by Saburo Kato. Mr Kato was the previous owner and bonsai master of Mansei-En (nursery where I spent 2 years studying bonsai in Japan). This book is a very good read. –Juan Cruz

May 21st – Developing Cascades with Jack Christiansen and general workshop

For the month of May, I’ll be following up with my program from last years cascade demonstration.  Hopefully, I was able to get you excited enough last year to have started your own tree. For those of you who have trees that need cutting back and further styling direction, bring them in for new suggestions.

I have many new cascade trees in various stages of development that I’ll be bring in also and you’ll be able to see how mine have progressed after a year of new growth.   Also if you have been working on a cascade bonsai over many years and its now refined please bring in yours to share with the club.


2015 Meeting Schedule

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
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

May 2 – 3, 2015 Palo Alto, California
Kusamura Bonsai Club: 55th Annual Show at the Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road. Show hours are Noon – 5 PM on Saturday and 11 AM – 5 PM on Sunday with a demonstration at 1 PM each day; special guest demonstrator Saturday. Club member sales available. For more information contact Mark O’Brien at (650) 327-0450 or The club’s website: also has more details.

May 2 – 3, 2015 Sacramento, California
Sacramento Bonsai Club: 69th Annual Bonsai & Suiseki Show at Buddhist Church of Sacramento, 2401 Riverside Blvd. Hours are Noon – 5 PM Saturday and 10 AM – 4 PM Sunday with demonstrations on both days at 2 PM by Sam Adina. Benefit drawings, plant and tree sales. For more information visit or contact Gary Judd at or 916-622-8048.

May 2 – 3, 2015 Jackson, California
Amador Bonsai Society: 14th Annual Bonsai Show held in conjunction with Sierra Madre Garden Club’s and Mother Lode Rose Society’s Flower Show and Exhibition, “Springtime in the Foothills” at the Amador County Senior Center, 229 New York Ranch Rd. Free admission. Hours are 11 AM to 4 PM. “My First Bonsai” classes will be held both days. Hourly raffles. For more information visit or contact Juliene Hiatt at

May 3, 2015 Watsonville, California
Watsonville Bonsai Club: 42nd Annual Bonsai Exhibit held 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 – 4 PM, with a demonstration by award winning Bonsai Master Katsumi Kinoshita 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 contact Don White at (831) 724-9283 or

May 16 – 17, 2015, Sacramento, California
Satsuki Aikokai of Sacramento: Annual Bonsai Show will be held at the Shepard Garden Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd. Hours are Saturday 10 AM – 5PM, and 10 AM – 4PM, with demonstrations at 1 PM on both days by Yuzo Maruyama. Satsuki information booth, vendors, raffles, etc. For more information contact or Ronn Pigram (916) 428-8505.

May 16 – 17, 2015, Oakland, California
Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai: 20th Annual Satsuki Bonsai Exhibition at the Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave. Hours 10 AM to 4 PM, both days: demonstration on Saturday at 1 PM by bonsai artist and teacher Johnny Uchida with demo tree to be raffled. Educational forums throughout the day Sunday. Colorful azaleas in full bloom, many imported from Japan. Experts on hand to talk about the trees and answer questions. Plant sales. Free admission, public invited, parking available. For further information, contact George Haas at



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