Workshop Action Shots

Our first workshop of 2017 was dedicated to the task of repotting bonsai (the most important task one can perform for their bonsai).

Art Wasserman and John Doig take on a Japanese maple grove repotting task.

John is showing Art how to tie down the root stock on a pile of bonsai soil mix, a critical part of any repotting.

Working with a chopstick, Art is eliminating any air pockets in the bonsai soil mix.

We had a good crowd show up with their bonsai and tools. There was plenty of experienced help to lend a hand in repotting. Candace Key was ready with the repotting handout from the January 3rd Jonas Dupuich demonstration on the same subject.

Michaele Jaffe happily puts the finishing touches on her repot.

Continue reading

Posted in Workshop Recap | Leave a comment

January 2017 – Jonas Dupuich – Repotting demo

Jonas Dupuich, famed author of the excellent Bonsai Tonight blog, helped us kick off our 2017 repotting season with a special demo on the first Tuesday this month. The two dozen members present, plus one woman, Caroline, who came to our meeting for the first time specifically to see Jonas’ demo, all received a review of some of the basics, and many special tips to prepare for the work ahead. If you couldn’t make it to Jonas’ demo, hopefully these notes will help you get ready for our repotting workshops on January 17th, February 7th, and February 21st.

Based on a raffle from the previous month, two members’ trees were selected to serve as Jonas’ subject matter. Rather than attempt the daunting task of repotting both trees himself, Jonas guided the trees’ owners through the process. George Haas was placing a young black pine into a bonsai pot and soil for the first time, and Adam Petras was refreshing the soil and trimming the roots on a lovely, well-established, root-over-rock trident maple. After quite a bit of discussion with Jonas and the assembled group, Adam passed on the selection of possible new pots he had brought with him, choosing instead to put the tree back into its original pot.

Jonas brought a handout with him containing details about when to repot certain trees, soil mix suggestions, and a simplified list of the standard steps in repotting a bonsai. He purposely left the list of steps simple because he wanted to encourage discussion and elaboration as George and Adam progressed through the process. If you would like a copy of Jonas’ handout sent to you, please contact Candace Key. That basic information will not be reproduced here. Rather, here are some of the tidbits of information Jonas added throughout the demo.

One thing Jonas mentioned that many people don’t realize is that when you use a sickle to cut around the roots of the tree, to free it from the pot, it is best to slice across numerous times, like you would if cutting something thick with a razor blade, rather than cutting all the way down in one spot and trying to saw across. Also, you should only need to cut three of the four sides, because one edge shouldn’t stop the tree from being tilted out of the pot.

Another useful tip, once you’ve gotten your tree out of its old pot and have begun to clean and trim the roots: If the tree is large enough that you need to lean the tree on one side to get to the bottom of the roots, try to work on the leaned-on roots last, otherwise you will crush and bruise tender newly trimmed roots. Sharply trimmed roots are dramatically more Continue reading

Posted in Meeting Recap | Leave a comment

We have our repot winners!

We start the year off right away at 7pm* on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 with a repotting program presented by bonsai professional Jonas Dupuich. Jonas will first lead us through the process to make sure our attention is focused on the tasks at hand. There are a number of common mistakes at each stage of the process and Jonas’ careful instruction should help us avoid many of them.

Two lucky club members, George Haas and Adam Petras, winners of our lottery, will receive guidance in the repotting of their trees during the meeting. One tree will be going from a nursery container to a bonsai pot, and one repotted from a bonsai pot into another, giving us two different perspectives on the repotting process.

Continue reading

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Mammoth Auction & Sale


It’s coming – February 18 and 19, 2017. The biggest bonsai auction and sale ever. Auction on Saturday – includes quality old bonsai and stands from the Frank Bardella collection. Sale on Sunday – includes 18 quality vendors. Buy lunch while waiting for the auction to begin or between shopping for bonsai wares.

The biggest fund-raiser comes but once a year for the GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt.

Here’s a list of the participating vendors:

• Art of the Daiza, Jerry Braswell
• Back to the Roots Bonsai, Ryan Nichols
• Bonsai Fusion, Kanehiro Hamajime
• Bonsai Tonight, Jonas Dupuich
• Bonsai Travel, Kora Dalager
• Bulls Eye Bonsai, Donald Hoisington
• Carman’s Nursery, Nancy Schramm
• Deadwood Bonsai, Ned Lycett
• Deer Meadow Bonsai, Jim Gremel
• Designs by Glaister, David Glaister
• Designs by North, Stephanie North
• Enchanted Forest, David Chimpky
• GSBF Bonsai at Lake Merritt Museum
• Japanese Sumi-e, Ami Wada
• JT Bonsai, John Thompson
• Ki-No-Toshi Bonsai, Garrett Ryan
• Legacy Oaks, Barry Altshule
• Lone Pine Gardens, Steve Price
• Lotus Bonsai Nursery & Gardens, Bolet Salvador and Scott Chadd
• Mendocino Coast Bonsai, Zack and Bob Shimon
• Muranaka Bonsai, George Muranka
• Pet Plants, Don Hilbert
• Round Valley Nursery, Ed and Linda Clark
• Seiji Shiba
• Shohin Bonsai Guy, David Gocinski
• Soh-Ju-En Satsuki Bonsai, Darren and Laura Wong

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Ryan Neil demo at Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM)

Ryan Neil will conduct a re-styling of the BGLM’s Rocky Mountain Juniper to be held at the Lake Merritt Sailboat Boathouse from 1:00 to 4:00 PM on Saturday, March 4, 2017. Ryan’s demonstration will be a fund-raising event in support of the Bonsai Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO) project. BGLM is raising $100,000 to replace worn out display and seating benches, upgrade water systems and install new pathways and windows. Your participation will help fund GRO.

Tickets are $35 each (tax deductible) and will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Tickets may be reserved by emailing with the name of purchaser, number of tickets requested, phone number, mailing address, and email address. Once you are confirmed that there is space for you, you will be asked to mail a check or credit card number, expiration date and Zip code to GSBF BGLM, PO Box 16176, Oakland, CA 94610. Once purchased, the tickets are non-refundable.

Ryan’s first appearance as a headliner was at the 2010 GSBF Convention in Santa Clara. The tree he styled was the Rocky Mountain Juniper, which was placed in the auction and purchased by BGLM board member, Andrea Burhoe. Subsequently, Andrea donated the bonsai to the BGLM. Ryan cared for the bonsai at his studio in Oregon from 2010 to 2015, when it was moved to the Garden and placed on permanent display.

Ryan was a headliner in the most recent 2016 GSBF Convention in Sacramento. He was born and raised in Colorado, where he became interested in bonsai at an early age. He studied horticulture at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Upon graduation, he spent six years under the apprenticeship of Mr. Masahiko Kimura, “The Magician,” Japanese master of contemporary bonsai. In 2010, Ryan settled in Oregon to pursue the creation of Mirai – a prime bonsai school and nursery. In 2015, Ryan and his wife, Chelsea, hosted the first Artisans Cup at the Portland Art Museum, a one of a kind exhibition of fine bonsai. Ryan travels throughout the United States and around the world to perform demonstrations, lectures, and to judge and critique exhibits.

I hope you can be with us on Saturday, March 4th in a beautiful setting for a fun afternoon with Ryan.


Joe Byrd, Chairman

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

NASBC Satsuki Azalea Workshops – updated 1/22/17

Let the workshops begin…

Dear Bonsai Enthusiasts,

Anyone possessing satsuki bonsai in their personal collections understand they require specialized care and maintenance. However, the details of proper care are often shrouded in mystery, cloaked in confusion, or simply communicated incorrectly. Our intent is to provide an alternative to this mystery and convey a solid foundation allowing you to properly maintain your satsuki throughout the year.

The first wiring workshop has concluded successfully. Working with such enjoyable people compels me to look ahead to upcoming sessions. With the final wiring workshop looming, I wanted to send a reminder to those considering participation. I also wish to point out that attending the spring workshop requires participation in each of the three preceding workshops (wiring, repotting, and pruning). While each workshop is valuable unto themselves, the spring workshop brings it all together and looks ahead to spring maintenance tasks.

Summary of workshops:

Repotting (2 days)
— Session One 2/11-12 (1 seat open)
Correctly repotting your satsuki is the key to ensuring its long-term health. Attend this workshop to discover the key components in the repotting process.
*** With sufficient demand, an additional workshop can be scheduled.
Continue reading

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

October 2016 – Peter Tea

On October 4th, we had our latest presentation from Peter Tea, wherein he talked more about developing juniper trees. He started with the same tree he showed us last time, pointing out how much it had changed and what still needed to be done, and finished with a relatively recently collected tree, discussing its particular needs and limitations.

On the tree from last time, Peter indicated an area that will be left alone for awhile, to allow it to grow in order to balance the design of the tree. Other areas will be trimmed as usual, to keep them in check. From there he talked more about the general methods for slowing all refined trees’ growth to maintain their designs. He reviewed a concept from last time that describes how more refined trees are, in a way, closer to death than trees in development, because their growth rate has been slowed so much, and their strong versus weak areas are so balanced, that radical changes tend to have a far more dramatic, even life-threatening effect upon them. While killing an entire tree Continue reading

Posted in Meeting Recap | Leave a comment