No August Meeting

In August of each year the club takes a break and hosts a bonsai garden tour instead of a regular meeting. Members only.

Check back next month for information about our September meeting.

Club News


GSBF Convention Logo

Kusamura will sponsor one of our members paid full registration to attend the upcoming convention in Sacramento, October 30 through November 2. Headliners this year are Peter Tea, Kathy Shaner and David De Groot.

Full registration includes entry to all demonstrations, Headliner Bonsai Events, Suiseki and Viewing Stone Exhibit, GSBF Judged Bonsai Exhibit; eligibility to participate in the Benefit Drawing; Friday Banquet, Saturday Lunch, Saturday Banquet, Sunday Lunch); convention logo pin and a goody bag.

There are also several workshops and seminars that are additional cost, and not covered by our sponsorship - but you are allowed to be a silent observer in all workshops.

You'll also receive a 1-year complimentary subscription to Golden Statements Magazine. Check out for more details and contact Jerry Carpenter to apply for sponsorship.

You will be responsible for transportation and hotel expenses.

New Videos Available

Recently we've created some videos showing off bonsai from recent 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: August Tasks

July Meeting Recap

by Dave Curbow

Larry White demonstrated how he styles Boxwoods. He treats them like oaks – that is very small pads, leaves mostly on the ends of long, kinked branches. But, if you don’t want to style it as an oak, do style like a broadleaf tree. Don’t try to make it look like a pine or juniper!

Boxwood shaped as Oak
Boxwood shaped as Oak

Finding Material - Boxwoods you find at nurseries are usually too young so the trunks are too small. Some commercial nurseries have trees with larger trunks but urban collecting is easy and free. People are always removing hedges and there often 30-40 trees you can choose from.

When collecting trees from a hedge it's common for people to trim the roots off a bit, stick the tree into a big pot, throw some dirt on top and take it home. Larry says that doing this looses a year or two of growth. Instead, he recommends spending some time to remove the top layer of native soil then cut off some of the fine roots on top to expose the larger roots that are below the soil line. Spend some time finding the nebari and then pot it in a grow pot using bonsai soil, or even just pumice.

When to Collect - Boxwood is really hardy so you can dig them up any time of the year except the hottest part of summer or coldest part of the winter. Once potted keep it in the shade and keep it moist. Once the new shoots have grown to 6-8" long you can wire them.

Larry brought two boxwoods that he worked on during the meeting. The first tree was very rough, like what you might have after a year in a grow pot. The second tree was more refined.

First Tree
Determining the Final Height - Remember that the taller a tree is, the smaller the trunk will look. Larry’s guideline is that the finished tree should be about 5-times as tall as the trunk is wide. The first demo tree had a 2" trunk so the finished tree should be 10-inches tall when finished. Because this was the first major styling the tree received Larry cut the tree back to about 1/3 that height so the entire top could be regrown. No green leaves were left - just a trunk with stubby branches that will become a new tree.

Ready for potting

Next he removed the top layer of soil so he could see where the trunk flared out. There were some small roots coming out of the trunk above the flare. They would distract from the nebari so he removed those.

It's common for boxwood to have heavy branches without any taper. He described one tree as a trunk with four baseball bats sticking up. To remedy this he cut the heavy branches off near the trunk and remaining wood to give the appearance of taper. New growth will pop along the uncarved wood. For now, Larry said that he only wants foliage at the end of the branches so he cuts off all other foliage.

He planted the tree in a 12" terracotta nursery pot using 1/4" bonsai soil. Next time it's potted he said it could be potted in a very shallow pot, maybe 1 1/2-inchs deep. Once the new growth has appeared and hardened you can carve the trunk but remember that oaks don’t have jins because the wood rots quickly. So your boxwoods shouldn’t either.

Second Tree
This tree has extensive carving to improve the taper of the trunk and branches. It also had a couple of years growth of new branches that have been wired to look like an oak. Oak branches grow up, out and then down. So, he wants his boxwood to grow the same way.

Wiring - Boxwood wood is more brittle than many trees used for bonsai, so you have to wire the branches when they are fairly small diameter - 1/16-3/16". Any larger and they won't take a bend. Make the bends large and exaggerated because as the branches grow and fill in the curves will become softer. Often it's a good idea to twist the branch as you wire it. Twisting the branch will cause it to bend smoothly without kinks. Before you wire a branch try twisting it to one side and then the other. The branch will naturally twist in one direction - wire it so the wire is going in the same direction. But on really small branches it doesn't matter. Larry was primarily using 16-gauge copper wire, although a few branches needed 14-gauge. Nothing larger. After wiring, arrange the branches so that each branch has it's own "space" to grow. None of the branches should touch.

He talked about growing a branch, wiring it, cutting it back to a bud, develop the new branch, wire it. He leaves the wire on about a year, then thins the foliage and lets the branch grow again. After the branches are shaped as he wants them he focuses on developing the foliage pads.

Boxwood grow better in shade or filtered sun (shade cloth) than in full sun. They'll be much greener if kept in the shade.

Boxwood shaped as Oak
The Final Tree

Here are a few more photos from Larry's Work

Looking at the trees Larry brought for the demo Discussing one of the trees that will be worked on Cutting off unneded branches - major pruning!
Ready to repot Discussing the buttress (nebari) of the tree Getting a closer look
Branches wired like an oak - our goal Wiring the second tree Discussing the tree's transformation
Winner of the tree    

Photos by Jerry Carpenter and Dave Curbow

Coming up in October

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