July 2002 Newsletter

Web Page Address:                                :     Issue: 06/02 July 2002

www.angelfire.com/ca2/diablobonsai

2550 Camino Tassajara

Danville, California 94526

(925) 736-7600

Sensei: Kunitoshi Akabane (925) 736-7600

President: Scott Couture (925) 735-3535

Editor: Daryl Bunch (925) 830-8790

July Meetings:

All meetings held at Heather Farms Garden Center, 1540 March Banks Dr., Walnut Creek. 7:15 – 10:00 PM

July 1  - Basic Class  Meeting.    7:00 to 7:15 pm  - library open.  7:15 to 7:30 pm Business meeting.  7:30  to 8:00 pm - Class instruction by Sensei Akabane;  topic – Discuss care of trees during summer dormancy.  8:00 to 10:00 pm – Workshop.  Every member should bring all their trees from this year for the Workshop.

         Refreshments: Lou Anne & Win Whitley and Jane Wirth

Note:  There will be no board meeting in July.

July 9 – Intermediate Class Meeting.  7:15 to 7:30 pm - Business Meeting and Library open.  7:30 – 8:00 pm - Class Instruction  by Sensei Akabane; topic – Review last six months.  8:00 to 10:00pm - Workshop.  Every member should bring material to work on during the workshop.

                         Refreshments: Bob Eden

Notes:     - (1) If you are listed to bring refreshments and cannot attend, please call Scott Couture at (925) 735-3535

               -  (2) Don't forget to bring a piece of plastic to cover your table during the workshop.  After the workshop, clean-up around your table and help put away the tables and chairs.

              -  (3) Wear your name tags to class every month to make it easier for everyone to meet each other.  If you need a name tag, call Scott Couture at (925) 735-3535 to order one.  The cost is $2.00.  

Club News

From the Chair:

It is already half way through the year. I hope your trees are progressing as you expected. For me, it seems each year I do one more thing a little better than the year before. It’s a slow process, but practicing patience is one of the reasons I became interested in bonsai in the first place. To be fair, when I glance back at photos of my starter trees from 3 years ago, the progress is a lot more apparent than what I usually imagine. (That brings up two ideas. First, if you take photos of your trees each year -and before and after major work – it’s easier to track how they progress. Second, if you take notes of what you do to your trees when you work on them, you can refresh your memory and improve the next time.)

Sensei “K” would like to see how our “best” trees are progressing during our joint meeting in August. For those who were at the October Show last fall, “K” plans to do a repeat performance. This is a great learning experience and everyone at last fall’s Sunday morning session were very glad they participated. In a few hours you can learn a lot about improving many different bonsai styles and varieties of trees. So, bring one tree to the August meeting to show “K” and the Club – pick the tree you would put in an exhibition if you only had one entry. That will give us enough trees to fill the evening and not keep everyone until too late. For Basic members – if you have picked a pot for your tree but have not potted the tree because it was too late in the season, I would suggest you bring the tree and the pot. K can give you feedback on pot size and color and tree placement. Figure out where YOU think the tree should be potted before you get there and see how well you do. Since this is a joint meeting and we’ll have several hours to look at trees, we have decided to make it a little more social and ask members to bring finger foods for snacking during the meeting. Look for the signup sheets at the July meeting.

WHO are YOU? I must admit, I really like to know everyone’s name, but am lousy with remembering names after only a brief meeting. Wearing nametags to meetings will help all club members learn each other’s name or at least let us use the right name when we come over to say “Hi!”. Class reps have noticed we are not doing so well at this. Please, DO try to wear your name tag.

Las Trampas Nature Study Field Trip

Sunday July 14, Bob Evans will lead a nature study field trip to Las Trampas in the San Ramon-Danville area. Meet in the parking area at the end of Bollinger Canyon Road at 11:00am.

Directions. To get there take the Crow Canyon Road exit off I-680 west towards Hayward. Go approximately 1.1 miles to the traffic light at Bollinger Canyon Road and turn right. Follow Bollinger Canyon Road north to the end, approximately 4 ½ miles. The parking area is on the left.

The study tour will start in the parking area. Wear appropriate shoes as we will be hiking from the parking lot, about ½ mile round trip.

Sign up sheets will be at the July Basic and Intermediate Class meetings, or call Bob Evans at (925) 820-0268.

Bring your camera and a note pad to the field trip so you can take pictures, also be prepared to take notes. If anyone has a VCR it would be nice to have a video taken for the Club Library.

Trees you’ll want to study before the field trip are as follows:

Bay Laurel         -  Umbellularia Californica

Buckeye             -  Aesculus Californica

Coyote Brush   -  Baccharis Pilularis

Live Oak            -Quercus agrifolia

Madrone            - Arbutus menziesii

Bigleaf Maple    -  Acer macrophyllum

Willow             -  Salix

(note there are three Willows native to the Bay Area, Yellow, Red and Arroyo, Salix lasiandra, laevigata and lasiolepis respectively-ed.)

Things we have learned

Sensei “K” has initiated an important new direction of study for the members of Diablo Bonsai Club using nature study to expand our knowledge and understanding of the art of Bonsai.  Thinking about it, I realized the study of the art of Bonsai, the development, maintenance and appreciation of these miniature trees, is but a special part of the study of nature.  It is easy to lose sight of this as we get involved in the techniques of the culture and care of potted trees and the design and development of potted trees into Bonsai.  Looking at some of my trees, the trees I see in shows, and even some shown in the literature I have become aware that it is too easy to get away from nature, the natural look and to become lost in and enthralled with formalized stylistic looks that may be attractive but not natural in appearance.  So this effort by “K” has really struck home with me.  I have learned many times over in science, in business and in art, the basics are the foundation upon which all other structures are built.  If you doubt this take a hard look at the leaning tower of Pisa.  We must keep in mind always that the cultural and esthetic basics of Bonsai are the basics of natural botanical growth.

We start with the fundamental building blocks, earth, air, water, sunlight and fire.  From what we see, smell and touch what can we learn about those elements of nature and their impact on the growth, form and survival of the trees, shrubs, grasses and other plants.

As we add to our knowledge and understanding of the physical aspects of nature, we must balance that knowledge with the aesthetic, intuitive knowledge or sense of beauty and form.  I have The Tao of Watercolor, by Jeanne Carbonetti.  She quotes from Lao Tsu “The way to do is to be.”  For Bonsai  this might be said as -the way to do (excellence) is to be (in touch with nature).  In the Introduction she notes, and I have editorialized freely –

“I noticed time and again that students seemed to fall into two two categories. One group loved to play with techniques…. These people were all natural (artists), …but when it came to bringing (their art) to fruition, they just couldn’t cross the line that led to decision-making./p> The other group were, above, all serious….They became well practiced in technique…and always brought (the work) to completion.…the process exhausted them and they would ask, ‘Now that I know so much, why is it still so hard?”

Ms Carbonetti proposes finding a balance between the two worlds, verbal and visual, left and right brain, logical and intuitive, scientific and artistic.  In our study of nature and the art of Bonsai, we must find a balance.  Not just the facts of the natural environment, but the essence, the beauty of the sights, smells, feel and sounds of nature.  As we study and learn the facts, we must also quiet the mind and see the beauty.

At the last meeting of the intermediate class, in the workshop “K” made a point I think is very important and needs to be kept in mind.    He noted that American Bonsai enthusiasts tend to leave too much space between branches.  (Thus the space becomes dominant, with greater visual impact than the foliage).  There must be space for air and light and to show the structure of the tree but just enough to accent and define the foliage masses.  This caused me to look at my trees from a new perspective and is something to keep in mind as we look at the trees in nature.  How much space do you see, does it vary by location, climate, kind of tree, age?  Best regards Don Meeker

Events Elsewhere<

July 3-7, San Rafael.  Marin Bonsai Club Annual Show at the Marin County Fair, Highway 101, San Rafael.  Fair hours Wednesday through Sunday 11am – 10pm.  Bosai Exhibit in Marin Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, Bonsai demos at the Home Arts Stage, July 4 & 5 at 1pm, July 6 at 5 pm.  Admission to the fair is $11 genera, $9 Seniors and children 4 – 12 years.  Bonsai exhibit and demos free.

Diablo Bonsai Look Ahead Schedule

August 5th  – Basic & Intermediate Classes.  Joint Class Show.  All members bring their best bonsai and something they have developed this year.         

Refreshments – All members, finger foods, desserts and beverages.   

August 6th – Board meeting