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February 2007 Newsletter

     Sensei: Kunitoshi "K" Akabane (925) 736-7600

                            Issue: 02/07 February 2007

Web Page Address:

2550 Camino Tassajara

Danville, California 94526

(925) 736-7600

February Meetings

All 2007 meetings will be Joint meetings and will be in the large upstairs room at the Heather Farm Garden Center, Walnut Creek. Meetings are scheduled on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, from 7:30PM to 9:30PM.

Meetings start at 7:30PM with a brief business meeting, and end at 9:30PM.
Please be ready to meet at 7:30PM.

Tuesday - February 6. Board Meeting, Charlotte Wood School, Danville. 7:30PM.

Saturday - February 10th. 9:30AM Potting Session, Tassajara Nursery. Bring plastic table covers.

Saturday - February 17th.As discussed at the January meeting, Norm Wanek is donating approximately half of his bonsai collection to the Diablo Bonsai Club.

Sensei ‘K’ Akabane has placed a price on each of the donated trees for sale to Club Members. The proceeds will go to the Club because our treasury needs additional funds for the coming show. The prices are from a quarter to a third of the actual value of the trees. These are bargains you can't afford to miss. (Also some great trees, the likes of which we don’t often have a chance to acquire.)

The trees will be sold to members on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 2 pm. A drawing will be held. Members will be able to select a tree based on the number which they draw.

Directions to Norm's house follow: Driving from either the North or South on Highway 680 take the Sycamore exit to the west side of the freeway. Turn left at the stoplight on San Ramon Valley Blvd. At the first turn on your right, angle off tothe right onto Podva Rd. Go three blocks to the stop sign, bear right, keep going to the right on to Montego Dr. Norm's house is the second on the right. 218 Montego Dr. See you all there!

Wednesday, February 21st - 7:30pm. Joint Class Meeting.
                                          Lecture 7:30-8:00pm -Lois Naye will lead class discussion on
                                            questions she has from her experience with Bonsai.. .
                                          Workshop 8:00 - 9:30.
                                          Refreshments and help with cleanup and close:
                                          Marcia Astrid Eiland and David Holmgren.

From the President

We now have only two meeting and two potting sessions before our Spring Show. This year we are making a concerted effort to have all display and donation material reviewed by ‘K’ at one of these events. Please help us all out by bringing in your trees!

Our next potting session is on Saturday, February 10th at the Tassajara Nursery, 9:30AM. If you have any question about the event being cancelled due to weather, call either the nursery or myself and get the latest information.

After a hiatus of a couple of years, ‘K’ would like the club to participate in the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown, April 21-22. We will need trees to display, members to tend to our exhibit during the two days, and help transporting material to and from the show. Everyone should put this event on their calendars, as well, as it’s a great place to see bonsai from groups all over Northern California in one place.
Thanks, Steve

Show Trees and Sale Donation Trees

All trees to be displayed at the show should be previewed by our Sensei 'K' before the show, either at a potting session or at the February or March Club meetings.

All trees donated for sale at the show must be priced by 'K' prior to the show set up. Again either at a potting session or at a Club Meeting. This must be done at or before the March 21st Club Meeting.

Jim Stalker has prepared a form to help collect information on Members Donation Trees for sale at the Spring show. Printed copies will be available at potting sessions and at the February and March Club meetings. Each Club Member will be responsible for completing a form, listing the trees they are donating for sale. When 'K' prices your tree, either at the potting session or at a Club meeting, Jim will give you a number, you enter the number and the price for the tree and give the form to Jim.

Don Meeker has prepared a similar form to be completed by each Club Member listing the trees they will display at the show. The form should show the common name, the botanical name, the approximate age of the tree, and the approximate number of years the tree has been in training as a bonsai. This must be completed and given to Don before the Friday show set up, March 30, so he can prepare the name tags for the display table. Trees not listed and for which there is no name tag may not be included in the Show Display. These forms will also be printed and distributed at the potting sessions and the February and March meetings. Your cooperation is important and will be appreciated.

Potting Sessions We have scheduled potting sessions for this winter and spring to assist you in preparing both donation and show trees for the Spring Show (March 31 – April 1):

           January 27
           February 10
           March 3
All potting sessions are held at the Tassajara Nursery at 9:30 AM.

Diablo Bonsai Club Look Ahead Schedule

Saturday - March 3rd. 9:30AM Potting Session, Tassajara Nursery. Bring plastic table covers.

Tuesday - March 6. Board Meeting, Charlotte Wood School, Danville. 7:30PM.

Wednesday, March 21st. 7:30PM. Joint Class Meeting. Club Member led discussion.
Refreshments: Ted Holmsen and Steve Huskins.

Events Elsewhere

Saturday & Sunday -February 24-25 - Oakland. Golden State Bonsai Collection-North: 16th Annual Mammoth Fundraiser Event at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave. Saturday (Feb. 24) Auction 1PM-4PM with preview 12Noon-1PM. Sunday (Feb. 25) Mammoth Fundraiser 10AM-5PM. Demonstrations and critiques by Kathy Shaner. Sale of bonsai and pre-bonsai materials, Vendors, Benefit drawings.

Diablo Bonsai Club Officers

Steve Huskins - President,    Byron Nobriga - First Vice President
Sylvia Roemer - Secretary,     Jim Stalker - Treasurer,
Club Historian - Lois Naye.    Editor & Webmaster - Don Meeker -

Study of Bonsai, literature, workshops and shows

When I joined the Diablo Bonsai Club several years ago I had been involved with bonsai for many years. I had collected several books, studied them often, and looked at the pictures even more often. My wife and I enjoyed taking in many bonsai shows. After I joined the Club, I experienced a big improvement in my understanding of Bonsai. I learned much more from Sensei Akabane than I would have without the literature and having seen so many different bonsai trees at the many shows. What I got from the Club pulled it together enabling me to understand what I had read and seen.

When we are really serious about Bonsai, about practicing the art, all three of the information sources are important. I believe the most important and useful source of information and skills is the Club. Sensei’s instructions, and the members, their trees and experience are the key to learning to do it right. You really get the best direct and specific information here.

The bonsai shows with all the different trees and styles, some really excellent, some maybe not so good, help build our sense of bonsai styles and possibilities. The demonstrations of making a potential Bonsai from nursery stock helps us understand how it is done. We can get ideas about things to do, and of things not to do. Seeing the show trees helps build a solid background for making our design decisions. But all the trees in all the shows and all the photos in all the books and magazines don’t tell us how or why. For that we need our teacher and the written literature. Face it, we only get a few precious hours a year with our teacher. To get the most out of that time we need to do our homework.

The Club Library has a number of excellent books, and some of past issues of Bonsai Today and other periodicals. Studying the literature will help answer most questions. Then with that background we can clarify and fill in by discussing the issues in Class. It is easier for any teacher to help us understand if we’ve done our homework first.

Caution: Note that in the literature, seldom do the writers gives consideration to our local climatic conditions. Even articles written for San Francisco or Oakland don’t serve our hotter, drier summers and colder winters. We need to interpret a lot. For example they say repot or transplant in April, we have to interpret, late January, February and early March. Sometimes there are errors or misleading information. You can’t take one book or one article as an absolute authority, but several together help build the background we need to improve our skills. If you have questions ask our teacher, or one of the more experienced Club members.

Bonsai Today. Issue 17, January February 1992. This issue is wholly devoted to Transplanting. It is an excellent overview of the many aspects of repotting or transplanting. It does not, I believe, cover an important consideration. Never remove all the soil from the rootball. Always leave at least a third of the rootball intact, with soil. For older mature trees, do not remove more than one third of the rootball, that is leave two-thirds of the rootball (at least) intact, with soil. Fine hair roots exposed to the air for more than a few minutes will die. If it is warm, windy or very dry that may be only seconds. If you have to work on the roots a long time, keep a spray bottle handy with water to mist the roots. If you have special circumstances that require a variance from this cautionary note discuss it with the Sensei.

Many issues of Bonsai Today have in-depth articles about specific material. For example Issue 55, May-June 1998 has an excellent article on the Crataegus Cuneata, “The Hawthorn with Red Blossoms”. This kind of article helps to build the depth of knowledge necessary to develop and maintain a top quality bonsai tree. Scattered here and there you’ll find tidbits such as, ‘Crataegus take 20 years to bloom from seed.’ Probably is not a good source of material for most of us.

In the back of many issues of Bonsai Today is a “Step by Step” article focused on a specific topic. In issue 55 it is about Pine Bonsai. This tends to be basic stuff, propagating, watering, sun exposure fertilizing, important tasks, trimming, pruning, repotting, etc.

Issue 58 has a good article on pinching back tender shoots, “How Branches are cared for from Spring until Fall.” Great background information as we move into those seasonal tasks. The “Step by Step” for this issue is about Pruning.

Issue 105 of Bonsai Today, September-October 2006 has an excellent article, ‘Dreams of Kokufu-ten’ It is about a young Polish student, studying in Japan, and his preparation of a tree and a display for the most prestigious show there. The article gives good insight into a number of basic bonsai development and training issues. I will study it seriously several times.

In Issue 104 there is an important article by Walter Pall, ‘A naturalistic Scot’s Pine.’ Another article in the same Issue of Bonsai Today, ‘Styling Satsuki Azaleas’, while brief, has valuable information for consideration in styling Bonsai.

The Club Library does not have issues 55 and 58 of Bonsai Today. Most back issues are available from Bonsai Today. Tassajara Nursery has recent issues for sale. I recently picked up a couple of really good issues there.

Don Meeker

Diablo Bonsai Club February 2007 Newsletter