November Meeting

November 21st @ 7:00PM

Winter Prep and Care of Flowering and Fruiting Trees
This month's program will be led by club president Jerry Carpenter. Please bring examples of fruiting and flowering trees and Jerry will talk about them

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

Club News

Sandy Planting Receives "Circle of Sensei Award"

In 2001, Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) established its most prestigious award — The Circle of Sensei Award to honor those individuals who have influenced the bonsai world by being teachers of the bonsai art form and by their dedication and commitment to bonsai in California.

At the 2014 Annual GSBF Convention, Sandy Planting received the Circle of Sensei award for her 37 years of teaching the art of bonsai via her set of beginner classes, workshops, and club demonstrations. The club congratulates Sandy for this well deserved award.

The award consists of a round medallion with the outline of the State of California and the GSBF logo at its center and an accompanying certificate.

Kathy Shaner
Sandy Planting after receiving her award (Photo by John Nakata)

November Potting Party of The Season

Our first potting party will be Sunday November 23 from 10AM – 4PM at the Plantings home. Funds raised at our annual show are used to support the clubs’ on-going monthly activities and pay for the upcoming year’s show.

We will work on material that can be repotted in the fall. Bring trees being held from previous show sales that need improving along with other club owned trees. In addition, each member of Kusamura is obligated to donate three trees or bonsai related items for our annual sale. This year we do not have as many club trees to work on as in years past so members are asked to bring a tree they plan to donate and work on it at this party.

A potting party is an excellent opportunity for you to use club soil, wire, pots, etc and get expert advise from other club members to make your donations ready for the show sale. So come out and support the club by participating in this event. You are sure to learn a lot and will have fun with your fellow club members in the process.

If you are new to bonsai or a newer member of the club, the potting parties are a great way to meet other members of the club and kick start your learning curve of the techniques for styling, pruning, wiring, and potting/repotting a bonsai.

For those of you who can come early and help with setup or stay late and help with breakdown, your assistance with those tasks will be greatly appreciated too. Remember you don’t have to stay for the entire day. The club thanks John and Sandy for making their home available for the parties. Doughnuts will be provided but also consider bringing a bag lunch.

December Holiday Party

Our December program will be a holiday party to socialize with fellow club members and their families. Each year the club provides a ham for carving, a turkey breast, wine and tables decorated in holiday cheer. Club members are asked to bring a potluck dish for sharing. Once again, Donna Farmer has graciously volunteered to organize our holiday party and Charlene Fischer and Lynne O’ Dell have volunteered to assist her. More details about this event will be provided in the December 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: November Tasks

October Meeting Recap

by Dave Curbow

Gordon Deeg led a program looking at pines other than Japanese black pines that are suitable for bonsai. He began by showing samples of a variety of different pines and describing how to identify them. Black pines and white pines are really the best candidates to make great bonsai. They are stronger, longer-lived, and easy to work with, but other pines can also be used.

Pines are first categorized by looking at the number of needles per sheath. You’ll find 2-needle, 3-needle or 5-needle per sheath. For example, Black Pines have 2-needles, Ponderosa have 3-needles and White pines have 5-needles.

White Pines have five needles per sheath and are softer than black pines. There are about 150 varieties of white pines - many with very short needles. Break (or cut) candles before needles show in early spring, or cut back to secondary branches.

Cork Bark Black Pine is a variant of black pine that is very fragile. The bark is much thicker than a regular black pine, often growing in slabs extending perpendicularly from the trunk or branch. The extra bark looks good but doesn’t make the branch stronger and branches have been known to die because a bird has landed on a branch and broke the thinner than normal cambium layer. Candles can be cut like a black pine, but when removing needles we recommend cutting the needles off instead of pulling them. When repotting don’t cut roots back much as a regular black pine.

Red Pine has 2-needles and often is used because it is softer and more feminine looking than black pines. Unfortunately it is weaker and if you cut back too aggressively the tree can die.

Mugho Pine is a European 2-needle pine. There are many dwarf variations commonly used for landscaping but can also be used for bonsai. You can cut candles, but not as aggressively as black pines. Mugho don’t bud back very well. (Bud back, or “pop back” refers to new buds appearing between the end of the branch and the trunk when the end of the branch is cut off.) Also known as Swiss Mountain Pine.

Bristle Cone Pine is another 5-needle pine. They are available from native plant nurseries. But they are very-very slow growing. One way to distinguish from white pine is the small flakes of white pitch on the needles. It will bud back.

Scotch Pine is a 2-needle pine from Northern European and very common on the US east coast. It will develop very short needles after just a few years, faster than many other kinds of pine. Treat it the same as a black pine. Also known as Scott’s Pine. The needles are blue-green. The bark is often flaky and slightly orange in color.

Ponderosa Pine is also a 3-needle pine. They grow very slowly and aren’t very strong. You can cut it back some, but not very much. Instead of pulling needles, we recommend cutting the needles off at the sheath.

Lodge Pole Pine is a 2-needle pine that is native to the US. It is occasionally used for bonsai. Only cut candles on the strongest growth. Leave the weaker candles alone.

Monterey Pine is a 3 needle pine with long soft needles and heavy barking. These tthree characteristics makes this tree species easy to identify

General Notes About Pine Cultivation

Black Pines are a coastal pine. They like lots of sun, water and good drainage. Red and White pines live in the mountains and take less water. White pines do better in slightly shaded areas. They seem to be susceptible to wooly adelgid- an insect that deposits white egg sacs that look like small tufts of cotton. Spray as soon as possible. Ultrafine Oil works well.

After Repotting Care - Mitsuya puts newly potted trees in a greenhouse for at least 2-weeks after being repotted. Pines are repotted in March. That helps the tree recover from the shock of repotting.

Removing Moss - Moss will destroy the bark on trees so it’s important to keep it off your trees. To do that, use a spray bottle to spray water on the moss until it is soaking wet. Then use tweezers to pluck the stands of moss off. When you can’t get any more off, brush the moss with vinegar. That will kill the moss.

Pine Cones - Always remove them. They will be out of scale to the bonsai - and they take a lot of energy to produce. We would rather that energy go into producing growth.

Wiring - Fall or Winter is the best time to wire a pine. There won’t be any buds on the branches so you won’t damage them.

Book Recommendations - A good book to help identifying pines is Conifers of California by Ronald M. Lanner.

Another good book is Miniature Trees and Landscapes, Their Creation, Care and Enjoyment by Yuji Yoshimura and Giovanna M. Halford. It has a good reference section on tree species and their care. This is a classic bonsai book, copyright 1957. Lots of copies available so don’t pay a lot.

Gordon also recommended Pines by Stone Lantern Press as another good reference.