March 2017 – Chris Ross & Tim Kong – Juniper Styling

On March 7th, our own Chris Ross was joined by our former club sensei and current member of BSSF, Tim Kong, to give us a demonstration on how to style our junipers. In particular, Chris focused on knowing when you can do what with your trees, and how to quickly impart as much age as possible in younger trees. Tim provided alternative perspectives, often discussing how he bucks many trends, and gave many tips on how to remain frugal when enjoying what can often be an expensive hobby.

Chris and Tim brought three trees between them. Chris brought a nursery shimpaku juniper that he and John Doig have been maintaining for at least a year and a half. Tim brought two older junipers of more common varieties from the inherited section of his own collection, including a nice cascade with lots of potential deadwood. Chris did a lot to the young shimpaku throughout the demo, including extensive pruning and wiring, but Tim’s trees only had their latest wire removed from them. Tim primarily used his trees as a focal point for his comments regarding the value of all trees, no matter how lowly their origin, and how to see and release the potential in “lesser” trees. All three trees were raffled at the end of the night. Continue reading

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Meeting Bling

As if you needed another reason to come to our monthly meetings, be advised that in addition to enjoying presentations from esteemed bonsai experts, our members bring in their own ‘Show and Tell’ trees for all to see.

Here are some of the awesome trees that Jay ‘Mr. Moss’ McDonald brought to our March meeting:

Thank you Jay for taking the time and effort to bring your artwork to us. It’s quite a workout to haul bonsai around town but that’s how you stay in such great shape!

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Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO)

One of many worn out display stands.

GRO is a fund-raising project to improve and replace worn out benches, display stands, water systems, new pathways and more at the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt.

No such project has been planned since the Garden opened its gate to the public in 1999. We are raising $100,000 to make these improvements, and so far have raised slightly over 25%.

Help us  meet our goal!

GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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