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Club News – February 2020

Grafting Pines, Junipers and Fruit Trees with John Thompson
February 21th @ 7PM

Our February meeting will be a demonstration and discussion of grafting techniques by John Thompson (JT). Members are encouraged to bring a tree that they are considering grafting. If they would like JT to help please bring the tree that will receive the graft, the scion material, grafting knife, and grafting tape.

JT is a bonsai enthusiast, lecturer, demonstrator and artist and a member of Midori Bonsai Club of San Jose, CA. He has demonstrated, taught and led workshops at conventions and many clubs. He writes a monthly care column for several Bay Area clubs and has authored articles for American Bonsai Society (ABS), Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) and other publications. He has also served on the Board of Directors for both ABS and GSBF. In his workshops and demonstrations JT tries to utilize the unique characteristics or flaws in each tree that will set it apart from others of the same species. He emphasizes transplanting, wound healing, grafting and effective pruning and wiring in the process of developing bonsai. JT’s experience and bonsai collection encompass a wide range of species and styles. He is, perhaps, best known for his driving passion for Oaks, Junipers, Boxwoods, Cypress, Pines, deciduous species and collected trees.

Monthly Tasks

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

Third and Final Club Potting Party on Sunday, February 23

Our final potting party for the 2020 show will be Sunday, December 8 from 10AM – 4PM. We will work on material that can be repotted in the winter. That includes deciduous trees, junipers, pines if protected afterwards, and various other species. Protected afterwards means keep it covered to prevent exposure to frost and/or windy conditions.

Club potting parties are held to work on trees that will be sold at our annual show in order to raise funds to support the clubs’ on-going monthly activities and pay for future show expenses. Each club member is asked to donate trees or bonsai related items for sale at our 2019 annual show. First year members are asked to donate at least one tree while we ask longer-term members to donate three trees. By bringing trees you’ll donate to the potting party you can get assistance with styling as well as use club-provided pots, soil and wire.

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. Newer members will have the option to pair up with a more experienced member to learn the process.

Doughnuts will be provided but also consider bringing a bag lunch.

Location: Club members check your newsletter for location information.

Recommended Reading: Repotting Basics

2020 Annual Show News

Our annual show is scheduled at Lucie Stern for April 25 and 26, 2020.

Theme for Our Show Trees

The theme for our show this year will be “Legacy Trees – Where are they now”. If you have a tree that belonged to a former club member and would like to show it, please let me know a little more about it’s ownership history and/or other information you know about it that you’d like to share. I will prepare a card with this information to display with the tree.


This year we are trying a new show layout as well as offering new experiences for our visitors. Previous years we’ve priced trees and done initial setup at Lucie Stern on Friday evenings. This year we are renting Lucie Stern for only two days (Saturday and Sunday). Below are other changes for this year’s show.

Plant Pricing

On Friday evening (April 24) please bring your trees and pots for the plant sale to St. Mark’s for the purpose of pricing and to partake in the members-only plant sale. This meeting will also be a chance for us to share some finger foods and visit with each other prior to our show starting on Saturday. The items that do not sell on Friday night will be stored in a rented van for delivery to Lucie Stern the following morning. Show Setup: This year both the main show and plant sale will be held in the same room (the large ballroom) at Lucie Stern. Setup will start at 8:30AM on Saturday morning and include setting up all the backdrops and tablecloths for the display tree tables as well as bringing in the trees for the sales area. This phase will run until 10:00AM and then the display trees can be brought in and placed as table space becomes available. The show opens to the public at noon on Saturday. 

We will have enough space for approximately 46 – 50 displays. Since this is slightly smaller than previous shows, we are asking members to show only two trees versus three. We will still have an in-progress area as well as space for an educational poster session if you’d like to do that. We will close at 4:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Dr. Bonsai and Tours of Show

In lieu of demonstrations, we will have tables set up with members working on a tree of their choice or providing advice to visitors who bring in a tree they have a question about. Our Dr. Bonsai experts could work on their own tree while discussing what they are doing to people who stop to watch. Or you could pick out a tree from a sales table and discuss how you would wire or trim it. You could even just talk about the tools used in bonsai or discuss the soil components if you don’t want to work on a tree.

We will also be providing tours of the show starting at 1:30PM. You can discuss any aspect that you feel comfortable with; for example, you could discuss the history of some trees, the different styles, the types of pots used or even the scrolls used. You could even opt to discuss just the trees you brought in and give a history of your trees and why you put them in the show. Tours can be anywhere from fifteen minutes to thirty minutes long depending on what you want to discuss.


We will have soup, sandwiches and salads available for members on Saturday and Sunday and a few tables set up in the patio area outside the back door of the kitchen. We will still need some people to help prepare some items for lunch for everyone and help keep the kitchen tidy.

Helping Out

Sign-up sheets will be available at the February, March, and April meetings. We will need help with plant pricing, dining, show setup and tear down, staffing a Dr. Bonsai Table, conducting a tour, greeting visitors, handling plant sales, monitoring the show area as well as picking up items from the shed and taking things back when we are done.

We appreciate your time and willingness to try something new this year. I anticipate our show will be a pleasure for our guests to see. We will have lots of trees for our sale, and we will have more opportunity to engage with our visitors through our tours and the Dr. Bonsai Table..

January Meeting Recap

Last month’s presentation was “Evaluating Bonsai Trees” by Jonas Dupuich. Jonas discussed how to use a form developed by Boon at Bay Island Bonsai. Rather than trying to capture everything that Jonas said we’re simply going to refer to an article he wrote on this topic and a video of a similar presentation that has been made available by San Diego Bonsai Club. 

“Bonsai Demystified” January Presentation

If an introductory presentation on bonsai were held at a library on a cold, dark Tuesday evening in January, would anyone show up? The answer is “definitely yes” as Barbara and Richard Phillips discovered when they gave their “Bonsai Demystified” presentation for the first time at the Menlo Park Library on January 14th. An audience of twenty or more listened and watched as Barbara and Richard discussed the characteristics of bonsai, how they’re created and, most importantly, how someone new can get started. To demonstrate how this doesn’t have to be difficult Barbara created a simple but elegant landscape using a shohin-sized spruce. Barbara and Richard then discussed the six bonsai trees and landscapes they had brought as part of a “mini bonsai exhibit” complete with stands.

At the end of the presentation, audience members were told about upcoming Kusamura events, including a workshop to create a Trident maple landscape to be held on February 8th. The workshop’s enrollment filled up quickly by audience members. In addition, three members of the audience came to our January club meeting to hear Jonas Dupuich’s presentation.

The next “Bonsai Demystified” presentation is scheduled for March 18th at the Fremont Garden Club. Barbara and Richard are actively looking for more opportunities to give this presentation, as there appears to be lots of untapped interest in learning about bonsai amongst the general public.

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