Club News – June 2021

Club Show Now Available

Normally at this time of year we’d be welcoming the public to our annual show at the Lucie Stern Community Center in Palo Alto. But as we all know this isn’t a typical year so instead we’d like to welcome you to our show online.

Visit Our Show


Bonsai Master Kathy Shaner – Working on Deciduous Bonsai

June 18 @ 7PM via Zoom

Kathy Shaner holding a shohin Shimpaku Juniper
Kathy Shaner holding a shohin Shimpaku Juniper

Bonsai Master Kathy Shaner will talk about deciduous work that can be done at this time of year. Folks who did not get to pruning or bud work earlier in the season, you may have a second opportunity. Kathy will discuss timing, what to do and advantages.

For those who don’t know, Kathy has been involved in bonsai for over thirty years. She trained in Japan as an apprentice of Bonsai Master Yasuo Mitsuya and became the first woman and non-Japanese citizen to certify as a professional bonsai artist and instructor by the Nippon Bonsai Association. 

Kathy’s approach to bonsai is to avoid making “cookie cutter” trees that follow a formula. If you’ve never seen Kathy in action, trust me you won’t want to miss out on her lively wit, her wide-ranging knowledge of the technical aspects of bonsai, and her incredible artistic talent.

Please hold your questions to the end of her presentation. Enter them via Zoom chat and they will be compiled and asked all at once by one moderator.

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: June Tasks


Officers and Board Members Elected for the 2021 – 2022 Term

The following nominations for Officers and Board of Directors for the July, 2021 – June, 2022 fiscal year will be announced and voted on at our May meeting:

  • Charlene Fischer — President (new)
  • Dave Curbow — Vice President (new)
  • Hal Jerman — Treasurer (continuing)
  • Idris Anderson — Recording Secretary (continuing)
  • Barbara Phillips — Corresponding Secretary (continuing)
  • Maryann Hinden — Board of Director (continuing)
  • Richard Murray — Board of Director (continuing)
  • Christine Weigen — Board of Director (continuing)
  • Lynne O’Dell — Board of Director (new)
  • Suresh “Mo” Mohan — Board of Director (new)
  • Jiechang “JC” Zhang — Board of Director (new)
  • Richard Phillips – Past-President

They’ll be sworn in at our June meeting with terms effective July 1. I know everyone will agree that the club will continue to be in good hands going forward.


Our 2021 Virtual Bonsai Show

By Barbara Phillips

What a beautiful show! We all did it, starting with a vision of making something lovely, inclusive, we could all enjoy over and over. I have many thanks to pass around, starting with the tech team, Dave, Charlene, and Richard.  Without their dedication to presenting a great presentation it would have been ordinary. But it isn’t an ordinary show, it is personal and worth looking at, created in unordinary times.  

I found myself reading ALL the text, and really enjoying the stories of the people and the trees. Something I don’t get from a live show. I could focus on individual trees without anyone standing in front of me or talking around me. I could reflect on the love our members have of their trees, especially the ones that have been in their care for decades.

I, personally, really enjoyed reaching out to recruit members to participate. The response was terrific.  I enjoyed seeing them bring trees to Richard to photograph. And I got to know the group of folks who contacted everyone in the club, Maryann Hinden, Richard Murray, and Lynne O’Dell, a little better.  

So Kusamura, congratulations! Your love of beauty carried us. I can say, in difficult times, under difficult circumstances, we all can feel this show is a job well done.


2021 Virtual Bonsai Show Acknowledgments and Kudos

Technical Production: Richard Phillips, Dave Curbow, Charlene Fischer

Outreach Team: Barbara Phillips (Lead), Charlene Fischer, Maryann Hinden, Richard Murray, Lynne O’Dell

This virtual show would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of members of Kusamura Bonsai Club. Thirty-eight members submitted 107 displays of photographs and texts.

This is beautiful. Thank you to the entire virtual show planning committee for creating the nicest virtual show yet. Very nicely done everyone; your efforts have certainly paid off. We’ll be able to enjoy for years to come.

Marsha Mekisich

Oh my goodness, it is so wonderful to read these beautifully thought out and scripted notes of appreciation for all those who participated in the virtual show! I am so grateful for all the tech expertise, artistic flare, photography knowhow, bonsai curating, and camaraderie we have it in our club! Again thank you to the lead people and participants!

Christine Weigen

I love the show presentation; very nice job, everybody.

Hal Jerman

Special Thanks to Our Out-Going President and Vice PresidentRecap of Our April Zoom Meeting

On behalf of the Board and Kusamura membership, the Club would like to express its gratitude for the many hours and endless energy that Richard Phillips as President and Idris Anderson as Vice-President have given the Club over the past two years.

Richard, under your vision and direction, you’ve reached out to new members and provided a solid core of bonsai principles and skills with your continuing workshops. These new bonsai members will have this new knowledge as their fundamentals going forward, for their own trees and to teach other club members. Additionally, as Covid upended our lives, your technical, organizational and zoom skills kept us together.  Now Kusamura will always have a path forward for any virtual monthly meetings, board meetings, and shows! Thank you.

Idris, your ever-present positive energy and resourcefulness provided great meetings month after month.  Additionally, zoom meetings require a challenging format and creativity which you pulled together resulting in stellar attendance. Your “can do” style of problem solving with meetings (as well as bonsai collecting) has been so important and inspiring during this past year. Thank you.

The Club also thanks Treasurer Hal Jerman, Corresponding Secretary Barbara Phillips, Recording Secretary Idris Anderson, and Board of Directors Maryann Hinden, Richard Murray and Christine Weigen who will continue to serve the club another year in their respective duties. As well, the Club thanks Thomas Chiu, Rita Curbow and Michael Greenstein for their service as they complete their two-year tenure as a Board of Director this month of June.


Kusamura’s New Website

By Dave Curbow

After using Adobe Dreamweaver, a tool for professional web developers for many years, we’ve decided it was time to make a change. We’ve transitioned to using WordPress for a variety of reasons. First, it no longer requires a lot of skill just to maintain the website. It also allows more people in the club to author content. There are many capabilities we can add on to our website, like online discussion, member-only areas, etc that simply weren’t feasible with our old technology.

I’ve taken this opportunity to add more photos to articles and to rewrite a couple of articles that had grown stale. There are still a few pages missing, mostly old newsletters, and you may discover problems. If so, please let me know.


Time to Cut Pine Candles?

By Dave Curbow

Historically the Black Pine Basics article on our website has been the most frequently visited page. It was written several years ago so as part of the website rework I’ve rewritten this article to incorporate the latest information.

One of the big things I didn’t learn when i was starting out in bonsai is that breaking candles or de-candling pine trees that are still in Development Phase is self-defeating. Let me explain. When we first acquire a tree we have to decide if the trunk and roots (nebari) are the way we want them, or if we need to let them develop more. It’s more efficient to do this fattening up in a large pot, or in the ground, but most importantly not to cut back on branches. All that green foliage produces sugar that is used by the tree to produce wood (trunk) and roots. Cutting branches too early in a tree’s life will slow down that process. 

But when your trunk and roots look good and you’ve got good primary branches coming off the trunk then you want to cut back new growth and refine your branches. On pine trees that mean breaking candles (probably in April) or cutting candles – about now.

You may have heard people talking about single flush vs dual flush pines. These terms have become more popular in recent years but not everyone knows what they mean. It’s very simple. Deciduous trees like maples put out new growth (leaves and branches) in spurts, or continuously, over several months. Pine trees only put out one set of candles – a green branchlets covered with needles. Next year this candle will become a branch when one, or occasionally more, candles grow from its tip. This is a “single flush” of growth in a year. A few varieties of pine, mostly Japanese Black and Red pine, can be stimulated to produce two and occasionally three flushes of growth in a given year. 

We like this because the new growth is always shorter and more compact than the first flush. And we usually get multiple new candles. Together this means we can develop a more compact branch in fewer years.

If you have a Black or Red pine and you’re refining your branches, then you want to cut candles. Many people say to cut candles around July 4, but that may be too late if you live in a warmer area. The photo below shows a candle (green stalk) tipped with needles that are fully open. Once this happens it’s time to cut candles. You have about three weeks to cut candles. Once the candle starts turning light brown / gray you’ve waited too late. See Black Pine Basics article for more details. 

Pine Candle ready to be cut
Scroll to Top