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April 2003 Newsletter

Web Page Address:                            Issue: 04/03 April 2003

2550 Camino Tassajara

Danville, California 94526

(925) 736-7600

Sensei: Kunitoshi Akabane (925) 736-7600,

President: Jim Stalker,                                         Vice President: Nick Nickerson

Editor: Don Meeker,                                           Webmaster: Sam Edge

April Meetings:

April 1 - Board of Directors Meeting, 7:30pm, CalFed Bank, San Ramon.


April 14 - Joint Class Meeting.

      7:00 - 7:15pm Library open, 7:15 - 7:30 Business Meeting

      7:30 - 8:00 pm Class Instruction by Sensei Akabane: Fundamentals of bonsai styles.

      Subject matter - Fukinagashi style (windswept). Branch development 1.

       8:00 - 10:00pm Workshop.                    Refreshments - Billie Morenz and Norman Wanek.

Change of Location:The Diablo Bonsai Club monthly class meetings have been moved to the Science Room at Charlotte Wood Middle Scchool. 600 El Capitan Drive, Danville.

Notes:Please bring a plastic sheet or other cover for the tables. After the meetings help clean up.

If you are listed to bring refreshments and cannot attend, call your Class Representative. Wear your name tags to class every month to make it easier for everyone to meet each other. If you need a name tag, ask your Class Representatives to order one. The cost is $2.00.  

Things we have learned At the March Diablo Bonsai Club Board meeting, President Jim Stalker announced that the Fall show dates were set for Saturday and Sunday October 18th and 19th. Set up will be on Friday October 17th.

Class Representative John Dommes asked about the purpose or reason for the show. Sensei K Akabane answered that the reason for doing a show is that it is part of the training of the club members first and also to help educate the public, about the art of bonsai.

Our trees take on a wholly different appearance on the benches with the white cloth covers and the white backdrops. We get to see clearly, often for the first time, the beauty of our trees. We also can see more clearly what works well and what doesnt work. We get knowledge and ideas from the other trees on display and build skills in understanding potential and the realities of the art, what is good and what isnt.

K also commented that some thought the purpose of the show was to raise money for the club. But that is wrong, we sell trees and do raffles to help pay the costs of having the show. Sometimes we make extra money, more often we only break even or may lose money. The reason for the show however, is for the learning experience. In that light it is also important for the Club Members, if serious about learning the art of bonsai, to attend the many other bonsai shows in the area. These are noted in the newsletter every month. One of the biggest and best is the multi-club show at the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco April 19th and 20th. This unfortunately is also Easter weekend. Jim Stalker will talk about our Club's participating in this show at the April meeting.

Back to our Fall show. This is a big event, with a lot of work and requires the help and support of all members to the extent that they are able. K will be coordinating the show production and I urge all to pitch in and help. We all are also required as part of our Club membership to donate trees for sale and raffle. Plan on bringing the trees you may want to show to the meetings and get Ks advise on preparing them for show. Also bring your donation trees so he can also advise on ways you can add to their value. The Club has a reputation in the area for having high quality sale trees.

All Club members, even the newest and least experienced are urged to show one or two trees. Often newer members are shy about putting their trees in the show. But it is important. Sensei had the Club be the first in the Bay Area to have inexperienced bonsai enthusiasts show their trees. Now, nearly all do so. I have heard Sensei say that even very young trees if they are well cared for, healthy and well trained have their own special beauty, not just the old trees. I have shown trees that I am now ashamed to admit to, but I learned from the experience, and perhaps some one thought, I could do that, and was encouraged to start.

There are three other items that we need to be aware of now, well in advance of the show to be prepared.

     Dai or stands for the trees. Each tree in a show is displayed on a stand, or dai, the Japanese term. A low wood pedestal or slab that is in keeping with the character of the tree. The dai should not be so showy or shabby that it distracts from the tree. If you look at pictures of bonsai trees in the literature, they are always displayed on a dai. Most often here they are simple finished slabs of redwood burl, or other woods. Some are made of bamboo laced together, or even pieces of board, sanded and varnished. We all will be expected to provide dai for our trees. If you dont have any or cant make them, then ask other club members if they have extra they could lend you. In general cascades or semi-cascades need a taller stand to hold them up above the display table. Another source is to search the used furniture or antique stores for small tables that may be suitable. Often you may need to cut the legs off to reduce them to an appropriate height. If successful these can result in elegant dai.

     Accent plants Small plants are used on the display table to help bring a natural appearance, fill the spaces between bonsai trees and complete the display of the tree. Sometimes shohin bonsai, or small trees, are used as accent plants. But other small plants, perhaps with flowers, such as a violet or other low growing herbaceous plant in a nice small pot serve the purpose well. Succulents and terra cotta pots are not acceptable.

     Moss Display trees need a finished soil surface. Small dark gravel or lava rock serve well. Often patches of moss are used to provide a natural surface appearance. If you will want some moss for your trees now is a good time to gather it. You can find it in many moist areas, along creeks, ditch banks or even around your yard. It always grows on the bricks and cement of my back patio. Just scrape it up, dont take too much dirt and put it in a brown paper bag to dry in a cool, dry place. In early summer, late June or early July, get the dried moss out. Strain it through a screen, mix it with a little screened potting mix or peat moss and sprinkle it on a planter surface. I use fine screened material to plant it on, screened potting mix or peat moss with some fine sand. I usually make up one or two large nursery flats so I have quite a bit available. Once you have spread your dry moss over the surface, then mist it well until it is very wet, and keep it pretty wet. By show time you should have a nice crop of moss to add to your trees. I also have to cover mine with netting or screen to keep the squirrels and birds out. A note of caution. Often now coming out of winter there is a lot of moss on our trees. Do not let it get up on the surface roots or the base or trunk of the trees, as it will damage the tree. Also a growth of moss on the soil surface interferes with water and air penetration and can result in a tree going dry, or root problems. It is best to remove the moss covered surface in the late winter or spring for the health of the trees.

Events Elsewhere

April 5-6 Bonsai Sekiyu Kai of Sacramento 26th Annual Bonsai Show, 12Noon-6pm Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday. At the Buddhist Church 2401 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento. Demonstrations both days at 2:00pm by John Uchida.

April 12-13 American Bonsai Association, Sacramento. 44th Annual Spring Show and Sale at the Sacramento Garden & Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd. Hours 10AM-5PM both days. Demonstrations both days at 2PM by Ted Matson.

April 19-20, Cherry Blossom Festival 2003 Bonsai & Suiseki Exhibition in the Sakura Room of the Radisson Miyako Hotel, Post and Gough Street, San Francisco. Hours 10AM-5PM both days. Demonstration Saturday 2PM by Tim Kong and Sunday 11AM by Johnny Uchida. Note: the Hayes street freeway exit is being permanently closed.

April 26-27 Kusamura Bonsai Club, 43rd Annual Show in the Campus Center, at De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. Hourst Saturday 12 Noon-5PM, Sunday 11AM-5PM. Demonstration 1:30PM both days. Sunday by bonsai master Kathy Shaner.

April 27, Napa Valley Bonsai Club, 25th Annual Bonsai Show at the Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson, Napa. Hours 11AM-5PM. Demonstration 1:30PM by bonsai oak master John Thompson.

May 3-4, Sacramento Bonsai Club, 57th Annual Show at the Sacramento Buddhist Church, 2401 Riverside Blvd., Sacrament. Hours, Saturday 12Noon-5PM, Sunday 10AM-4PM.

May 4, Watsonville Bonsai Club, 30th Annual Bonsai Show at the Watsonville Buddhist Temple, 423 Bridge St., Watsonville. Hours 10AM-4PM. Demonstration at 2PM by Tom Ogura.

Diablo Bonsai Look Ahead Schedule

May 6 - Board Meeting, 7:30PM, CalFed Bank, San Ramon

May 12- Joint Meeting at Charlotte Wood School, Danville, 7:30PM. Topic Kengai cascade style.
                Refreshments - Lois Naye and Jane Wirth.