Companion Plant Workshop

February 19 starting @ 7PM

Kora Dalager will lead a workshop on companion plants. Kora has been pursuing the art of bonsai for 30 years. Her frequent trips to Japan as tour leader of Bonsai Travel has given her insight into bonsai cultivation with a special emphasis on display. She has been able to view many bonsai shows in the US, Japan and in Europe, Kokufu-ten and Taikan-ten in particular on an annual basis for the last 15 years. She has participated in seminars on display given by Kunio Kobayashi, Seiji Morimae and Yasuo Mitsuya. The creation, care and display of companion plants have become her special interest. She has given workshops and demonstrations on that subject and has been one of the headliners at the Florida bonsai convention.

Members participating in Kora’s workshop can either bring their own plants/pots or purchase plants/pots at wholesale pricing from Kora. She will be buying these pots while in Japan prior to our February meeting. Kora needs a head count, those of you that want to participate and did not sign up at our January meeting please let John Mekisich know by February 3rd indicating whether you will be bringing your own pots/plants or purchasing from Kora.

Here is a timeline for Kora’s workshop; there will also be a hand out:

  • History of and reason for having companion plants (10 minutes)
  • Pick out pots and plant material (10-15 minutes)
  • Short demo on how to do this (5 minutes)
  • Work on your companion plantings

Pricing: pots will range from $10 to $30 per pot, Kora will try to have as many inexpensive pots available as possible plus a few higher priced unique pots available for those who wish to purchase such.

Plant material will cost about $5 to $15 total per pot, depending on what you select.

Kora will provide the soil mix needed.

Anyone able to bring some moss is encouraged to do so.


Plan Ahead for March Program

Nebari Improvement Workshop

Our March program will be a nebari improvement demo and workshop by Sandy Vrooman. The classic pot for nebari training is a 12 to 15 inch square 2 inch deep wooden pot with a slatted bottom. It is critical to have the correct type of pot to achieve the desired result.

Those of you who would like to participate in this workshop will need to bring the correct style pot or tray along with the tree you will be working on. Making such a pot is easy using some 1x3 lumber and nails or screws. We'll have a picture and maybe some plans to help you make this before the end of February.

Observers welcome too!


Club News

Founding Member Inducted into Hall of Fame

Kusamura founding member Tosh Saburomaru was recognized as a 2015 inductee into the Japanese American Association of Northern California (JAANC) Bunka Hall of Fame at the Association’s New Year’s party on January 23 in San Francisco. BUNKA is the culture of Japan as practiced here in America. Bunka Hall of Fame honors those outstanding personalities who have enhanced community relationships by practicing and promoting Japanese culture in Northern California. Tosh was recognized for his contributions to the spread and understanding of the Japanese form of bonsai throughout America. At the event, John Planting presented a chronology of Tosh’s contributions. Tosh’s son presented a biography.

Privet Bonsai
Tosh Saburomaru

Potting Party Thanks!

We had a record number of 22 people at our January potting party! That included four new members plus a person checking out our club.


Annual Show 2016 Update, April 30 - May 1

Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
by Show Chair Charlene Fischer

Bob Shimon is our speaker for Saturday. We need volunteers for the Sunday demonstration. You will be working in teams on a pre-bonsai type of material. The material is usually easy to work with so beginners as well as our club experts can work together on the tree. This is a good opportunity for you to explain things you’ve learned in bonsai.

Annual show planning is coming along. Below are the main teams that help with the show - signups for all these teams will be at our upcoming meetings or email Charlene to signup

Publicity - Postcards and larger flyers will be available for you to take to your places of work and friends. Charlene, Jerry, Mark, and John have begun publicity efforts with other clubs and events.

Kitchen Crew – Will assist Diane Churchill and Alison Williams with setup on Saturday morning, maintenance during show hours, and clean up of the kitchen and dining room before show closes each day.

Plant Sales - Helps price trees on Friday night and also coordinates signups for the plant sale area on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday Night Setup - April 29, beginning at 5:00 pm with the tables and backdrop assembly. Tablecloth placements start at 6:00 pm along with any ironing or cleanup we need before Saturday.

Saturday Setup - Starts around 8:30 am and helps people stage their stands, trees, accents for placement in the show. A team will actually arrange the tree display for you.

Sunday Breakdown - Starts at 5:00 pm and is responsible to disassembly of the show backdrops and cleanup. There is also a nice strike event to celebrate the end of the show.

Hospitality - Members greet visitors at the front door and let them know where everything is or monitor the display room and answer questions and monitor the displays.

Benefit Drawings - Members help display benefit items and sell tickets during the demonstrations. There will be a door prize drawing, a regular benefit drawing and a demo tree drawing.

Kusamura members are asked to display at least one and up to three trees in the show. Email your display tree info to Lynne O’Dell or Charlene Fischer.


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: February Tasks


January Meeting Recap

Valerie Monroe presented a wonderful program on bonsai pot selection for our trees. She used lots of color illustrations of trees and pots taken from old bonsai calendars to present her ideas.

Valerie showing alternative pot and tree parings
Valerie showing alternative pot and tree parings

Here are some of the key points Valerie pointed out:

  • Each bonsai style tends to mean you’ll use a specific type of pot
  • Turning a cascade square pot with a corner in front makes the pot look softer
  • Using a “bag-shaped” pot draws your eye to the tree vs. the pot
  • The length of the pot should be from two-thirds to the same height as the tree
  • The depth of the pot should correspond to the widest part of the base of your tree
  • The lower the foliage on the tree, the lower your eye will focus. Where your branches start on your tree impact the type of pot you’ll use.
  • A rib at the top of a pot will break up the height of the pot and possibly enhance the lifeline on a tree with a shari
  • For glazed pots, opposite colors give you more contrast. For example, you would put a red maple in a blue pot if you wanted more contrast. Of course it needs to be the right color of blue. Valerie used examples where an “icy” blue would not work vs. a dark blue that looked great with a red-leaf maple. If displaying a tree with fruit, consider the color of the fruit when selecting a bonsai pot for the tree. Valerie also pointed out how the time of year you plan to display a tree might impact your choice of pot color or finish
Valerie advising Marsha on the right pot for her tree
Valerie advising Marsha on the right pot for her tree