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Club News – September 2020

Demystifying Pines with Michael Greenstein

September 18 @7pm via Zoom

Michael Greenstein will give a presentation on seasonal care for Pine trees in the SF Bay Area, and will attempt to de-mystify the current process for de-candling Black Pines. Along the way, he will show images of a White Pine trained as a bonsai since 1625 (with a wonderful back story), and discuss Pine tree classification and general care. After Michael’s roughly forty-five minute presentation, viewers will be able to ask Michael specific questions about their pines. 

Note that the September Timely Work Schedule suggests steps that should be taken if you missed the opportunity to work on your black pine earlier in the year and are not following the “needle shortening program” covered in the article BlackPineBasics on the Kusamura website. Yes, pine care can be complicated at first but tune in as Michael attempts to de-mystify these steps. Michael’s presentation is available at – A Primer on Seasonal Pine Tree Bonsai Care.

Note that this meeting will not be recorded.

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: September Tasks


Reflecting On The Month Of August 2020

August 2020 will be a month in Northern California that few of us will ever forget. While we social distanced to avoid getting COVID-19, I’m sure none of us expected to have to stay indoors to avoid unhealthy air quality from raging fires started during a seventy-two hour period mid month. During this seventy-two hour period, more than 10,000 lightning strikes occurred setting off more than five hundred fires in Northern California. Three of the largest of these fires went on to burn more than 1.5 million acres, cause seven people to lose their life and destroy some 2,500 structures by September 1. Firefighters expect it will be mid September before the last of them are fulling contained.

While most of us living in the Bay Area urban neighborhoods only had to deal with bad air quality, our hearts went out to those who had to evacuate their homes, those that lost friends and love ones, those that suffered property losses, and all the firefighters and volunteers who became heroes to all of us as we watched them on tv or online as they confronted the enormity of the tasks.

Update: Since this article was written in early September, new fires have broken out in Oregon. One of the casualties of those fires was Telperion Farms, a source of bonsai trees, supplies and education. The owners lost not only the business, but their home as well.


Club Matching Donations to Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

If you plan to donate to this cause and haven’t done so, please send your check to club Treasurer Hal Jerman by September 15. Original details in your August newsletter.

To donate, make your check payable to Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt or to Kusamura Bonsai Club. On the check memo include the words BGLM Security System. Either way, mail your check to club Treasurer Hal Jerman at 3056 Ramona Street, Palo Alto, CA 94036. This will allow Hal to keep track of donations for matching purposes. BGLM and Kusamura Bonsai Club are both 501(c)(3) non-profits so your donation is tax deductible. Please send Hal your check by September 15.

To learn more about the Bonsai Garden, go to GSBFbonsai.org, click on “Collections”, and then click on “VisitTheWebsite” under Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt.


Midori Hosts Demo by Bonsai Master Adam Jones

Midori Club will have Bonsai Master Adam Jones as presenter at their monthly meeting on Thursday, September 17 at 7PM. Adam got his apprenticeship at Mansei-En in the Omiya Bonsai Village, Saitama, Japan.

Adam also has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Alfred University’s School of Art & Design New York State College of Ceramics. He has also been featured in several newspapers and television programs. You may have seen him in the CBS news Sunday Morning TV show. Here is the link if you are interested – CBS Morning Show

Adam opened Tree House Bonsai (www.treehousebonsai.com) in Ami- Mach, Ibaraki Japan in 2018 and is currently the only Western born bonsai professional to operate a bonsai garden/nursery in Japan. He also teaches several beginner bonsai courses at the Omiya Bonsai Museum.

His profile states: “At Tree House Bonsai, Adam combines his unique background in education and Art with the traditional aesthetics of Japanese bonsai to create works of Bonsai Art that bridge the worlds of east and west. Adam strives to help western bonsai enthusiast overcome the linguistic and cultural barriers most visitors to Japan find difficult in order to provide them with a truly memorable experience and help spread the joy and art of Japanese bonsai throughout the world.”


Club Potting Party Update and Tree Count

Obviously, the status of COVID-19 will determine when our potting parties can resume. At this time the club doesn’t anticipate holding a club potting party until sometime in 2021.

But the club would like to inventory how many trees club members may be taking care of. Richard Phillips is leading this effort. So please email Richard the total count of trees you have. If you have trees with a number on it such as #52 and a price listed please send him that info too. The number probably indicates that it is a Bill Scott tree and the price is its original appraised value.

A Closer Look

During the extreme heat wave in August I noticed that the pots for some of my bonsai were really heating up and that wasn’t good for the tree. With limited shade in my back yard, I tried sitting the pot in a larger pot to shield the smaller pot from the heat. It really helped so now I have done this for a number of my trees.

Idris Anderson successfully air-layered a wisteria using a juice bottle wrapped around the “cut”. Idris said the juice bottle made it easy to water through the cap. She saw lots of roots after only four weeks but kept it on for a total of ten weeks. Idris says she also successfully air-layered a crepe myrtle, a maple, and a Chinese elm. I think she is on her way to becoming an air-layering guru!

Wisteria air-layer in juice bottle
Bottle wrapped up to shield from heat
Roots after air-layering process

If you have a bonsai story that you would like to share with the rest of the club, please email Rita Curbow at rdcurbow@comcast.net. Thank you to Idris for providing her “air-layering” success story this month.

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