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Diablo Bonsai Club

February 2002 Newsletter

Web Page Address Issue:                                  02/02 ¨ February 2002

2550 Camino Tassajara

Danville, California 94526

(925) 736-7600

Sensei: Kunitoshi Akabane (925) 736-7600

Sensei: Kunitoshi Akabane (925) 736-7600

President: Scott Couture (925) 735-3535

Editor: Daryl Bunch (925) 830-8790

February Meetings:

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

Note:  meeting start time change from 7pm to 7:15pm.  The business meeting will be only 15 minutes.

February 4th  - Basic Class  Meeting.    7:15  to 7:30 pm - Business meeting and library open; 7:30  to 8:00 pm - Class instruction topic:  Chokkon – Formal Upright by Sensei Akabane;  8:00 to 10:00 pm – Workshop.  Every member should bring material to work on during the Workshop.

         Refreshments:  Jan Mahoney and Sybil Renee McGowan

February 5th  -  Board of Directors Meeting at 7:30pm. CalFed Bank, Crow Canyon Road, San Ramon

February 11th – Intermediate Class Meeting.  7:15 to 7:30pm - Business Meeting and Library                  open.  7:30 – 8:00pm – Class Instruction Topic:  Arrangement of roots -  by Sensei Akabane.  8:00 to 10:00pm - Workshop.  Every member should bring material to work on during the workshop.

                         Refreshments:  James Merrill

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. (two rows of tables and chairs at the south end of the room.)

              -  (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

The annual dues for the year 2002 are due.  Please bring your dues to the February meeting or mail a check to Barbara Richards using the form at the end of this newsletter. The dues are $40 for single members and $65 for couples.  Please try to get your dues paid as early as possible so a new club roster can be finalized and given out to the membership.

The Diablo Bonsai Club 2002 Schedule of Events is finalized and included with this newsletter.  You can now mark your calendars for the entire year of 2002.

Field Trip – February 16

The second field trip for this year will be February 16.  A visit to the Lotus Bonsai Nursery at 1435 Lower Lake Rd. near Lotus,CA   (near Coloma off highway 50) is scheduled for 10:30 am.  The owner is Scott Chadd.  Phone (530) 622-9681.  This will be a first time visit to this nursery which should have a good selection of plants, especially for basic members.  A trip to a second nursery has not been scheduled because there is not another in that area which meets our requirements.  However, an optional

visit can be made by individual members on the return trip to the Maruyama Nursery in Sacramento.

Maps for both of these locations and sign up sheets will be available at both the Basic and Intermediate meetings in February.  Car pooling will be available as usual at the former Montgomery Ward parking lot on Monument Blvd. in Concord.  Departure from the parking lot will be at 9:00am.

Potting Sessions February 2nd and 23rd.  The first potting session scheduled for January 26 was rained out and rescheduled for Saturday February 2.  The second potting session for 2002 is scheduled for February 23rd.  Both will be at the Tassajara Nursery, 2550 Camino Tassajara Road in Danville, 9:00am to 12:00 noon.  Take the Sycamore Valley Road East exit of of I-680.  The nursery is approximately 2.5 miles east of I-680 on the right hand side of the street.  When you arrive please park on either side of the street outside the fenced parking area so that regular nursery customers can park inside the parking lot.  All members should plan to attend at least one of the potting sessions scheduled for February 2nd and  23rd.  The primary purpose of the potting sessions is for the members to prepare the two trees they will donate to the annual show plant sale.  Diablo Bonsai Club will provide the pots, soil and wire used and the members are asked to provide their own trees.  Please bring your own bonsai tools and a piece of plastic to cover your work table.  Before you leave the potting session make sure you clean up around your area and register the trees you have prepared and the pots you have used.

As a reminder basic members are asked to donate two one gallon sized trees and the intermediate members two five gallon-sized trees or a group planting.  You may bring your own trees from home for the potting session or trees will be available at the nursery for you to purchase. 

The two trees prepared by each member during the 2002 potting sessions will be donated to the 2003 annual show plant sale.  The trees prepared in the 2003 potting sessions will be for the 2004 plant sale and so on.  This way the trees in the annual show plant sale will have been in training for two years and will be more mature and of better quality.  Sensei Akabane will work with the members attending the two potting sessions to select trees, prune, wire, select the right pot, etc.

From the President:  Happy February!  Welcome to new member Mary Bert Smyth. 

Thanks to Lorretta Hayes, Pat Hines, Don Meeker and all who helped make the January 21st Potluck

Dinner a relaxing and fun event.  For those who missed, too bad, missed some really good food and friendship.


On your mark… Get set…. Grow!  Well, not quite yet, but soon. As I sit here writing, the first potting session is being canceled due to rain, which is a pity, because we need to be potting already. Ok, I can wait one week to pot donation trees and get K’s help on the trees that I’d like to repot for my collection. In the meantime I’ll be checking my nursery material, cleaning it up, studying the trunk and branches to get ready for shaping, and getting my pots ready.


For Basic Members who need to style 5 different types of bonsai this year, many of you should also be checking out local nurseries to study and select starter material. Roots, trunk, branches, apex are they compatible with the type of tree you plan to create? Now’s a good time to be looking for material, plenty of time to pot before Spring comes but not too much extra. In March deciduous trees will be wanting to grow and you need to let them recover for 6 weeks or so after potting before using fertilizer. See, now IS a good time to pot so you can fertilize when they really want to start growing in March/April. Remember one more day of field trips and one more potting session (assuming you get this after the rescheduled one on Feb 2nd.) About the potting session don’t forget to bring a couple trees to pot that you can part with in a couple years, for the show donation. I like to pot a couple that I’d like some practice training on. I did a group planting to donate last time to practice tree placement. Starter material is not that expensive at 1 gallon size and practice is really valuable when you’re just learning.


For Intermediate Members, I’ll reiterate my challenge - create the beginnings of a new and different tree this Winter  something really artistic and different but natural… something bonsai…  capture the essence of a tree. I have to admit, I’m not sure I’m skilled enough to go too far in that direction, but many of you are ready to take up the challenge. I’ll give it a try. I’ve been thinking about K’s lesson  what makes a tree look alive and shows movement in the tree? (I’m hoping K means movement over time, as in growth and evolution in the tree) I’m wondering if I need to tip the scales a bit to put a part of the tree just a little out of balance in places to show parts of the tree are pushing out where nearby areas are more stagnant. I have more thinking to do and don’t think I’m onto it yet. Have you thought about what to do to show movement and the impression of life not just green?


Note to all: This year is the last year the club will be providing pots, soil and wire (while it lasts) for use at the potting session for potting donation trees. When we run out, that’s it, we are out of the material supply business. A couple reasons one biggie is that we end up donating pots to members who drop out before the end of the year or before they donate the tree for a tree sale. The pots are really supposed to be on loan from the club to members to make the trees better prepared and more attractive for the plant sale. Keeping track of what’s out there is also a lot of paperwork that we must maintain for years until the tree is donated. Please do pay attention to those that will be tracking the pots you “borrow” for donation trees as they do need to keep records this year as we use up what’s left. So, come to one of the potting sessions in February and take advantage of the supplies. Also, take advantage of having 2 years to train your donation trees for the next public Bonsai Exhibit and tree sale. You can do heavy-duty styling this year and mostly refinement next year, ending up with a much better finished product.


Best of Luck on your Winter Bonsai exploits.  Scott

Events Elsewhere

Golden State Bonsai Collection at Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue, Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

Garden House Hours

Wed, Thurs, Fri – 11:00AM to 3:00 PM  -  Sat – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM  - Sun – 12 Noon to 4:00 PM

Call ahead to be sure they are open at (510)-763-8409.

               February  24  -  GSBF Collection North Mammoth Bazaar XI at Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave. Oakland.  Hours 10am to 5pm.

                April 6 – 7 – San Jose Betsuin Bonsai Club 32nd Annual Spring Exhibition, San Jose Buddist Church Betsuin, 640 North Fifth Street, San Jose.  Saturday noon to 5pm.  Sunday 11am to 4pm.  Demonstrations both days by Harry Hirao from Huntington Beach.

Diablo Bonsai Look Ahead Schedule

March 4 – Basic Class.  Topic Fukinagashi – Windswept Style.  Workshop.  Refreshments:  Lois Naye and Byron Nobriga.

March 5 -  Board Meeting.  CalFeb Bank, San Ramon

March 11 – Intermediate Class – Topic – Branch Development I.  Workshop.  Refreshments – Norman Wanek.

Things we have learned.

Now, for this area, the mid-winter is the time to start repotting bonsai.  We begin with the deciduous trees and then can do the evergreens a little later.  This year with the mild temperatures and all the rain, the sap is already beginning to rise in the deciduous trees.  Thus you should have already completed any major pruning you have to do.  Any major pruning not yet done should be delayed until later.  The exact timing, outside of winter, varies some by individual species.  So check the species in the literature or ask our Sensei.  But pruning from now until the new foliage has hardened may result in excessive bleeding of sap.


For repotting, study up on the techniques.  Because there can be a lot of work from the end of January into early April, some advance preparation helps.  Get your pots cleaned, I always sterilize mine, then apply the screening and the holding wires, so that they are ready to receive the trees.  I also prepare my potting soil in advance.  The club has some printed information available on potting soils, if you don’t already have that, ask about it.  The soils should contain a significant proportion of sharp materials, sand, red lava and pumice are often used.  You’ll want to screen the materials so that the very fine material is screened out, it tends to clog the soils, makes them too dense and interferes with good drainage.  Also you’ll want to screen out pieces that are too large, for medium sized bonsai, screen out anything over ¼ inch.  I also sterilize any materials I buy from bulk storage.  They may carry fungus, bacteria, virus and insect eggs that could be harmful to the newly trimmed roots.  Remember the trees are stressed by the repotting and need special care and attention to get established.


In our classes Sensei is teaching about and reviewing the basic styles.  It is very important that we know these styles and understand them.  I find that I need to review the styles and study them a couple of times a year.  I always think I know and understand them, but I always learn something, or find I have forgotten some element, or just understand better what the style is really about.  Yuji Yoshimura’s book, The Japanese Art of Miniature Trees and Landscapes, has an excellent basic presentation on these styles.  There are several copies of these books in the Club Library.  I can’t recommend highly enough that you study these.  Then go to the Bonsai shows and study the show trees in light of what you learn from Sensei and from the literature.  Bonsai today has some good basic information on the several styles.  Issue 67, May-June, 2000, has a great article on styling informal uprights (Moyogi).  We see many of these in nature, and many in Bonsai.  The February basic subject is the formal upright (Chokkan).  This can be very difficult to get right, because the trunk must be perfectly straight.  When done right they can be most beautiful and take your mind to the mountains or meadows when you see them.  This style takes special study and work, but it is all worthwhile when you see your tree developing.


As our Sensei leads us this year to move our knowledge, skills and abilities and thus our trees to the next level of excellence, we will have to make sure we have mastered the basics to move beyond to greater naturalness and beauty in our trees.  There are two parts to mastering the processes of bonsai development, as there are in all the arts.  The physical techniques, potting, pruning, trimming, care, root development and so forth; and the artistic sensibilities that need to be developed, polished and maintained with a deep and abiding appreciation and understanding of nature and the natural characteristics of the several species of trees.  I believe Yuji Yoshimura lists about three hundred sixty different trees, in my collection I have more than sixty varieties.  In the shows we usually see only a dozen or so varieties, with an occasional different tree showing up.  So there is a lot of room for us to explore, learn and develop different trees in search of one of those ‘knock your socks off’ beauties.  Don Meeker 

Annual Dues – Now Due

The 2002 Diablo Bonsai Club dues need to be paid .  Please fill out the following form and a check made out to: Diablo Bonsai Club and mail it to: Barbara Richards, 172 Western Hills Drive, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, or bring it to a your February meeting.

Please remember that payment was due by January 31, 2002.


Diablo Bonsai Club

2002 Dues Payment Coupon - Return promptly

 Circle One Single - $40.00 Couple - $ $65.00

Name _____________________________________


City _______________ State _____ Zip _________

Phone No. _________________________________

email Address ______________________________

Occupation ________________________________

Please Return to Barbara Richards, 172 Western Hills Drive, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523