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)

October Meeting

October 17th @ 7:00PM

Red, White and Pine - Our program this month will be led by Gordon Deeg. Each year we have one or two programs on Japanese black pines. But important as they are, there are many other pine species that make good bonsai. So, this month Gordon Deeg will talk about mugho, Monterey, Scots, white, red, etc. The focus will be on how to identify and care for these other varieties. He will bring in examples of different pines but members are also asked to bring in their examples for discussion and improvement.

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

Club News

Annual Show 2015 News

Our 2015 show will be May 2 – 3 at Lucie Stern Community Center with setup on Friday, May 1. The club is looking for a Show Chairman for 2015 and three to four committee members to assist with other leadership tasks. If interested, contact Jerry Carpenter or Lynne O’Dell. Charlene Fischer has volunteered to be Show Co-Chair.

First Potting Party of The Season

Our first potting party will be Sunday November 23 from 10AM – 4PM at the Plantings home. That’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving so save the date. More details will be available in the November newsletter.

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: October Tasks

September Meeting Recap

by Rita Curbow

Thank you to everyone who brought trees to the meeting to be improved and or critiqued. Jerry started the program by encouraging everyone to not be afraid to make dramatic cuts to advance a tree to the next stage. Jerry said “take a look at your tree and ask yourself what you can do to make it better and then make those changes”. Jerry wasn’t feeling well that night and so addressed the business issues after that and then turned the program over to John Planting and Stephanie North.

John and Stephanie did a fabulous job of assisting us with the trees we brought in. The varieties included boxwood, blue-Atlas cedar, azalea, false cypress, ginkgo, Chinese elm, black pine, hawthorn, San Jose juniper, redwood, and regular Atlas cedar.

For the azalea, they recommended that it be re-potted in pure Kanuma now as it was not doing well in it’s current soil and in a training pot to provide more room for new root growth. Next year it could then be wired, styled and allowed to bloom only once as blooms always weaken the tree. When pruning, cut back to just two leaves.

For the false cypress, they suggested that it be thinned down to just two leaves with a goal of creating flat planes vs. “poodle” pads. Alternate leaves should also be removed. For this type of tree you want to create a “cloud” dome at the top vs. having a pointed apex. The tree can be thinned out now and repotted in the spring in an un-glazed brown pot.

The ginkgo grove needed to be reduced in height by two-thirds. As it was a modified broom style, an oval flair pot was suggested. Branches should not be allowed to cross internally but grown from the sides outwards. Michael Greenstein suggested a sacrificial branch be used to thicken the trunk of one of the trees. In a grove, remember that the main tree is the tree with the thickest trunk therefore you want the trees to have different sizes. Again, the apex should be a round dome at the top of the grove. John also pointed out that you always want to make a flat cut (straight across) with a very sharp tool or the cut will not heal properly.

Dramatic changes were suggested for the Chinese elm as it was thought that it should have all its branches removed to start anew. It was also pointed out that lower branches fatten a trunk faster than branches higher up.

For cedars, don’t make a concave cut when the branch is alive. Cut flat and then clean the cut up with a concave cutter when the stub dries out. You need to leave the wire on for a long time to get a cedar to hold its bend. Keep this in mind when wiring. If you tend to wire tighter than looser you’ll have to redo the wire every year until you get the desired result. Cedars should be wired in November and repotted in the spring.

The San Jose juniper just needed some cleanup using simple clip and grow techniques. It was also pointed out that we should use wood epoxy to harden a jin to preserve it over time. Otherwise, it will weaken with watering and eventually break off.

For the redwood, it was suggested that the owner enjoy the tree as it is since it was fabulous in its own right. As redwoods in a forest typically grow straight up, a redwood that has a tall vertical trunk should be styled in a formal upright style. Rebar could be used to straighten an otherwise slanting trunk but it does take time.

Some trees just needed a different style pot and John was quick to point that out since he is our resistant expert on pot selection. Everyone learned a lot and it was a fun filled evening. The club thanks Jerry, John, and Stephanie for providing their expertise!

Club members discussing a tree before the meeting begins
Club members discussing a tree before the meeting begins


Also 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.