Annual Show - May 2-3, 2015

Our 55th Annual Show will be here sooner than you realize. Plan to visit us to see some wonderful bonsai, see a demo and maybe buy a bonsai for yourself or a friend. Check back in late April for further details.

We always have wonderful trees on display. You can see last year's trees here.

Windswept Shimpaku Juniper
Windswept Shimpaku Juniper from 2014 Show (Click image for larger view)

March Meeting

March 20, 2015 @ 7:00PM

We will have more details about the planned meeting topic in a few days.

Show and Tell

Bring trees with new spring growth, like maples, elms, etc..

Club News

2015 Annual Show Update

by Charlene Fischer

The date for our next show is May 2 - 3. Location is Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto - same as in the past few years. Our guest demonstrator on Saturday May 2 will be Valerie Monroe.

Planning for the annual show is progressing nicely. We’ve ordered postcards again to advertise the show and will have some full-page flyers available as well. Thank you to Stephanie North for reserving Lucie Stern and to Mark O’Brien for volunteering to be chairperson for Publicity. The additional co-chair positions that are open include: Plant Sale, Show Setup, and Benefit Drawing/Door Prizes. In particular we need a plant sale co-chair to assist in pricing the trees and pots as they arrive on Friday night. An added benefit of this duty is you get to see all the trees as they come in! Thank you to Donna Farmer who can help with the Benefit Drawing and Door Prize ticket selling on Sunday, and we need someone to handle that on Saturday. Anyone interested in being part of the Show Team can contact Charlene.

Thank you to everyone who signed up for activities at the show. The sign-up sheets will be at the February meeting again along with a small box of pots for those who cannot attend a planting party and want to repot trees for the sale.

Next Potting Party Sunday, March 1

Our potting party will be from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Planting's home. We will work on trees that are best repotted in the winter with an emphasis on deciduous trees.

For those of you who can come early and help with setup or stay late and help with breakdown, your assistance will be greatly appreciated. Remember you don't have to stay for the entire time. Some people prefer to come early while others start midday. Help make this a success by coming by and lending a hand. For new members without experience, help will be provided in styling and potting your trees.

Bring any club owned trees you are baby-sitting that need to be improved. In addition, each club member is expected to donate three trees or bonsai-related items to the sale. Each item should be something we can sell for at least $25.

New Board Member

Michael Greenstein has been elected to the Board of Directors to fill the position previously held by Lonnie McCormick. Michael is a long-term member of the club and has held this position many times in the past.

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: March Tasks

Report on January 2015 Meeting - Wiring

Jerry shared a lot of useful information about wiring, far too much to capture in the limited space we have here.

Here are a few points to remember:

  • Aluminum wiring should be used on deciduous trees, like maples, because the wire will be removed after just a couple of months to avoid scaring the bark. You may be able to remove aluminum wire and reuse it. Azaleas are also typically wired with aluminum because softer bends are desirable on such trees – and because aluminum doesn’t hold it’s shape as well as copper it is suited for making softer bends. All other trees should be wired with copper.
  • Deciduous trees should be wired as soon as the leaves drop. Without leaves you can see what you’re doing as you wire, you can monitor the wire to make sure that it isn’t digging into the bark. Also the trees grow more slowly when dormant so you’re less likely to leave the wire on too long.
  • o Pines should be wired after new buds are large enough that you can see them and not knock them off when wiring. Often around August. Juniper can be wired almost any time.
  • Start by wiring the largest branches (or trunk) first, then put on smaller medium and then smaller wire. This will make it less likely that you’ll cross a wire.
    Crossing a wire means wrapping one wire on top of another wire. The wire on top can trap the first wire so it can’t shift when the tree grows and your more likely to damage the bark. In the worst case you can cause visible grooves!
  • Put the wire on from the trunk and wrap the wire around the branch coming towards to you. To do that you need to place the tree so that you are facing the trunk and the branch to be wired is coming towards you – towards the smaller end of the branch. Never wire away from you.
  • It is easier if the branch you are wiring is ponting slightly to the right of your body (assuming you're right handed).
  • Each twist of wire should be about 45 degrees (diagnal) compared to the branch is is around.

Experiencing the GSBF Convention for the First Time – An Interview with Sean Morris

Rita: In late October you attended the 2014 GSBF convention in Sacramento. Kusamura sponsored you as a first time attendee from the club. Having never been before, you probably had some expectations of what it would be like. How did the actual convention compare to that?

Sean: I think my expectations matched up pretty well with the actual event. I've been to a handful of events around the Bay Area and in my mind I just scaled that up. It definitely seemed well organized, and the displays were very clean. I would have liked for the main exhibition to have more trees though. Being on the state scale I felt like there should be a huge selection of high quality material to show, though I understand it can be a huge undertaking to bring in pieces.

Rita: What was the most useful thing you learned that should help you when working on your bonsai going forward?

Sean: I can't pinpoint a single most useful thing I learned, but I definitely picked up a lot on styling. I feel like I'm at the stage where I really need to focus on styling and this event was perfect. Everyone had comments, opinions, and critiques from the main event, judged event, and the styling competitions. It was invaluable and inspiring to be immersed in this type of environment.

Rita: What was your favorite part of the convention?

Sean: It was great seeing a lot of familiar faces from people I've seen at shows and people that have done workshops at our club. Thanks to Marsha, I was introduced to many more people than I can remember! But it was really nice being a part of a welcoming and wholesome community.

Rita: Kusamura didn’t pay for a workshop but did you take any of them?

Sean: I felt like I needed to make the most of my trip, so I did sign up for two events. I went to a workshop by Juan Cruz where I brought my own tree - a Shimpaku. It's always refreshing to get advice from a different perspective. I also signed up for a critique by Peter Tea who I'd wanted to meet for a long time after reading his blog. Again, both provided me with new insight into how different parts of the tree work together to form a greater whole.

Sean is most appreciative to Kusamura for providing him this opportunity.

A Blog We Recommend

White Pine

Bill Valavanis has been studying bonsai for over 50 years. During that time he has published books and International BONSAI magazine (for 35 years), run the the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, New York and contributed to our artform and hobby in many ways.

Recently we've discovered that he has a new blog - full of wonderful photos and coverage of Japanese bonsai shows and news. You may want to take a look -


Building a Bench to Display Your Bonsai

Michael Greenstein, February 2015

Bonsai Benches

Leaving pots on the ground makes it easier for bugs to find their way into your bonsai and makes it difficult to see your trees. Putting them on a bench solves these problems. Michael Greenstein describes his experiences building benches for his bonsai.

Read more





Our Website Is Very Popular

By David Curbow

As webmaster one of the things I do occasionally is take a look at how many people visit our site a month, which are the most popular articles, etc. We've had a website for many years, since late-2000. We moved to this site in early-2012 and since then our web traffic has increased almost every month, from 250 unique visitors to over a thousand last month. In 2014 we had almost 10,000 unique visitors! Not bad for a non-profit club.

We expect that most visitors would be from the United States - and they are, but surprisingly many visitors are from Ukraine, Thailand, France and Finland. We even get a few visitors each month from Japan, which is very flattering.

Our Black Pine Basics article is visited more than almost everything else combined! Other popular pages are Soil Basics and Moss Basics articles, photos from our 2014 Show, and Member Story Bonsai on a Shoestring.

We're happy that people find our articles useful. If you're in the area, please drop in on one of our meetings.