July Meeting

July 17, 2015 @ 7:00PM - this Friday!

Bonsai Program on “Less-Common” Trees

Jerry Carpenter and Gordon Deeg ask that you bring in your less common bonsai that you need help with or have questions about. This is a “working” workshop so bring your tools and wire also. An example of a “less-common” tree is any tree that we normally don’t do an entire program on such as Stewartia, Corokia, Silverberry, etc.

Show and Tell

Bring any not-as-common trees, tropical trees, summer flowering, etc.


Club News

The Club Loses a Very Dear Friend

Helen Reist passed away at home on June 5 after suffering a massive stroke nineteen days earlier. Helen joined the club around 1998 and was a very active member throughout her membership. In addition to serving on the board multiple times, she was club Treasurer from February 2008 through June 2011, which means she finished out one person’s term and served another three years after that. For many years Helen also volunteered as Hospitality Chair or assistant at our annual show. Helen loved volunteering in this capacity, as she was known to be a gourmet cook by her family and friends. A memorial service was held on June 28 at Lucie Stern Community Center, a place Helen’s family said she loved. Helen was also a member of Sei Boku Bonsai Kai and a regular volunteer at the Bonsai Garden Lake Merritt and with the Filoli bonsai group.

Helen was a very caring and supportive person to the club and will be dearly missed for years to come.

Kusamura Donates Check in Appreciation to Bill and Gordon

On June 4, Rita Curbow presented Midori with a check from Kusamura for $650. Many of the Midori members who remembered Bill's time in that club gathered around for a photo and to say "Thanks!"

This was the proceeds from the sale of the trees donated by Bill Scott in 2013 that did not sell within Kusamura. In August 2013 these trees were taken to the Bonsai Garden Lake Merritt and sold by GSBF at the Mammoth Bazaar in 2014 and 2015. Bill had asked that any trees not “consumed” by Kusamura be used to benefit Midori as he had been a member of that club in the past.

The Kusamura board voted and told GSBF to keep the entire amount and the club would match that amount in a check to Midori. So depending on how you look at it, Kusamura donated $650 of the money earned on the sell of Bill Scott’s trees to either GSBF or Midori in appreciation to Bill for his very generous donation to Kusamura and to Gordon Deeg for all his help at that time. It was a win-win for everyone!

Midori President Jack Christiansen accepts check from Kusamura Midori President Jack Christiansen accepts check from Kusamura

Timely Work Schedule

Each month there are a number of tasks you need to do to your bonsai - from repotting, to fertilizing to spraying for pests. We have put together a checklist, customized for the San Francisco Bay Area to help you. This checklist is adapted from earlier work by Mitsuo Umehara.

This month: July Tasks


June Meeting Recap

If you’ve read the Black Pine Basics article on our website you know the basics of cutting candles and puling needles to produce compact growth. This month Peter Tea shared more information – which will be added to our Black Pine article.

We don’t always think about it, but our trees are in one of two phases – either we are in development or refinement. Young trees start in development phase – a few branches not many secondary branches. The goal of development phase is to create ramification, lots of secondary and tertiary branches off of each branch.

De-Candling: Take a look at your tree. If you don’t have good ramification you want to de-candle to create new buds that you can grow into two smaller branches. Once the tree has enough branches you cut candles to maintain the size of the new growth. That is when you de-candle keep one bud rather than two. Whether you’re developing or refining impacts when you de-candle. For example, if you want to produce lots of growth you should de-candle in April / May. By August you should have new buds. Some years you may be able to cut those candles to produce even more branches for the following year. For a refined tree, de-candle in June / July.

Trees can have some parts are developing while others have moved to refinement phase.

Cutting Back Branches: When the internodes, or space between needles / branches, are different sizes you need to find the strong vs. weak areas. Strong areas will have longer internodes than on weaker areas. Over time stronger areas will grow stronger while weaker areas will die off. Pulling needles (leaving 2 pairs on strong and 6 on the weak) doesn’t really work enough on a young tree. A more powerful tool is to cut branches back.

Not Off: Cutting off the weak branches will cause the strong branches to grow even stronger. That’s not going to give us lots of similarly sized branches. If we go the other extreme and cut off the strong branches the weak branches will become stronger, but that with all the energy that was going to the strong branches now diverted to the weak branches you may just wind up with a bunch of new strong branches.

Cut Back: By cutting strong branches back we mean cutting it in the middle of a bunch of needles. This will force buds at the base of the needles to pop out and grow into new branches. You will have traded one long internode for side branches.

Cut in the middle of the bunch of needles, leaving 4-5 pairs
Cut in the middle of the bunch of needles, leaving 4-5 pairs
Cut in the middle of the bunch of needles, leaving 4-5 pairs
Later, new branches should develop

After a few months the buds should develop additional branches. If you only get one new bud then that’s what you work with. But if you get more than two, prune off all but two. Keep two that are about the same size.

Next Year: You’ll see candles on the end of these smaller branches. Cut those off as normal. Make sure you don’t accidentally cut off the new branch thinking it’s a candle!

For more info on black pines, see Peter’s article at link

To see the handout that Peter created for his talk see handout
The technique we teach in Black Pine Basics for de-candling corresponds to what Peter refers to as "Peg or Neck method" in his handout.

Other Info: Peter reported that now in Japan most people pull off all the needles, keeping 7-8 pairs everywhere. This contrasts with what we’ve been taught previously – which is to leave fewer pairs at the top and more at the bottom. Peter said that pulling needles and de-candling isn’t used to balance the tree – only to cause branching. To balance the size of branches cutting is more effective.

Peter also answered a few questions from the audience. One person asked about pests. Peter talked about sooty mold that is usually caused by insects, like aphids. Just spray with ultrafine or similar oil. Aphids can be controlled by an occasional gentle blast of water to the needles.

Some people are having fungus problems that causes branches to die. To address this he uses Cleary 3336 DG Lite - a granular systemic fungicide. For pines he uses 1 tablespoon per square foot of pot space. Apply every 2 months. It can also be used on junipers.