Kathy Shaner in the News

We're proud to congratulate our friend, teacher and long time club member Kathy Shaner on the news article about her work as curator of Lake Merritt's Bonsai Garden. The article appeared in the Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News

Kathy Shaner
Bonsai Master Kathy Shaner tends to a grape plant bonsai in a nursery at the Bonsai Garden in Lakeside Park in Oakland on Sept. 23, 2014. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

September Meeting

September 19th @ 7:00PM

Tree Improvement Workshop - This month we will have another Tree Improvement Workshop with Jerry Carpenter, Stephanie North and John Planting providing guidance. Everybody should bring a tree that you’d like recommendations on how to improve your tree. We particularly encourage you to bring in a tree you’re considering for next year’s show.

As always, if you can arrive early to help with table setup that would be greatly appreciated

Club News

New Videos Available

Recently we've created some videos showing off bonsai from past shows. You can watch them on YouTube. The 2008 Show is not HD, but the other two are in 1080 HD so you can watch them full screen.

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: September Tasks

It’s Fall - Or At Least Our Trees Think It Is

by Dave Curbow

It’s officially fall. The weather is turning cooler and that means autumn colors on deciduous trees.

Ginkgo in Fall Colors by Alison Seaman @ Marin Bonsai Show, October 2013
Ginkgo in Fall Colors by Alison Seaman @ Marin Bonsai Show, October 2013

Because the Bay Area has had unusually cool weather this year many trees are already showing fall colors. That means that the tasks we normally do in October may be appropriate now. To see that list visit October Monthy Work

For example, you should switch to a low nitrogen fertilizer at this time of year. If you’ve been using Osmocote or other granular fertilizers you can remove the old fertilizer by sweeping off the top of the soil using a brush. You might consider going a bit further, especially if the top layer has become compacted – either with excess salts (including fertilizer) or because the is soil breaking down. Compacted soil will water to run down along the edge of the pot instead of watering the entire rootmass.

Using a chopstick gently rake from the trunk towards the edge of the pot about one-half inch deep to loosen the old soil and then remove it. This is a good time to remove any weeds you see. While you’re at it, check whether you need to repot the plant in the spring. Add fertilizer and then new soil to the appropriate level on top. Please see Fertilizer Basics for more recommendations.

Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

Volunteering at Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

by Joe Byrd, BGLM Chairman

Birthdays always make me reflect on my life. Today I am remembering my first day as a docent at the Garden back when it first opened. I was apprehensive about driving into Oakland from my home in Monterey and did not particularly enjoy standing around the Garden not really knowing what I was expected to do.

Fast forward to last Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile I had moved to Oakland to be near my one and only granddaughter and retired to run the BGLM. Although I had been volunteering at the Garden every Friday for over a year, and filled in as a docent in emergencies, I had never really considered myself a docent.

Last Saturday, we again had a shift that was uncovered and no one had stepped up to fill in. So, I gave up plans to attend the BABA picnic and decided to become a docent. However this time, I decided to do it differently. I brought two of my sadly neglected black pines to wire.

I set up my re-wiring station just outside the docent house door and was ready to welcome our visitors. My thought was to show visitors a bit about bonsai by doing the wiring. I felt the activity might spur some bonsai discussions. What do you know? It worked. Visitors loved strolling around the Garden by themselves and then stopping by to see what I was doing. The ensuing conversation was wonderful for both them and me. They were delighted to hear more about some of the famous bonsai they had just seen and went back for a second look.

I met couples from New York, Chicago, Seattle and Afghanistan who each had good questions and lots of praise for our garden and the tranquility that they found here. We gained several students for the monthly beginner classes conducted by the East Bay Bonsai Society, received favorable comparisons with other major bonsai museums in the US, and even enrolled a new Garden Member.

The most important benefit of the day was that I really enjoyed my job as a docent and gained a new perspective of our Garden and what it means to our visitors. This experience was a far cry from my first one nearly 15 years ago. Perhaps I am finally old enough to appreciate the value of sharing my love for bonsai and our Garden with our visitors. I hope you don't take as long as I did to learn this valuable lesson.

For more information see Joe's article here.

Coming up in October


GSBF Convention Logo

Just a reminder that the convention will be in Sacramento, October 30 through November 2. Headliners this year are Peter Tea, Kathy Shaner and David De Groot.

Midori Bonsai club is one of our nearest neighbors and always have a good show. We recommend visiting them if you have an opportunity.

GSBF Convention Logo

Northside Community Center
488 6th Street at East Empire Street
Downtown San Jose, Japan Town

Bonsai demonstration by Juan Cruz at 1:00PM
Demonstration tree to be raffled at end of demo.
Beginners Workshop 10AM-1PM create your own bonsai.

Bring in your bonsai tree for advice from Dr. Bonsai.
Bonsai vendors and plant sale