Improve Your Show Tree

by Jerry Carpenter and Gordon Deeg

March 17, 2017 @ 7:15pm

Jerry Carpenter and Gordon Deeg will guide you through the process of improving and prepping your tree for show at our annual event coming up in June. Please do NOT bring in a starter tree. This is for 2017 show prep trees only. Don’t forget your tools and wire too.

We plan to have a few tables set up with backdrops so you can get assistance with tree display setup too. If you have a bonsai stand that you are willing to loan to a club member for use at the June show feel free to bring it to this meeting so someone can sign up for it. You of course can hang on to it until then if you prefer.

Club News

Bonsai Pot Sale March 17 from 6:45PM – 7:15PM

The club will have a bonsai pot sale at our meeting on March 17. The sale will start at 6:45PM and will include a hundred or so bonsai pots donated by club member Nora Morton. Our meeting will start at 7:15PM that night unless sales activity dies down earlier than that. Club Treasurer Hal Jerman will be on hand to take your checks and cash. Note that checks are preferred. Sells can continue throughout the meeting as long as it does not interfere with the program.

The Kusamura board and officers will be placing the bonsai pots for sale on tables prior to this time. We kindly ask that you do not try to shop or purchase pots ahead of the 6:45PM start-time as some members will be focused on program setup at this time also.


Beginner Bonsai Class, March 11

with Lynne O’Dell and Richard Phillips

Beginner Bonsai Class, March 11 with Lynne O’Dell and Richard Phillips This class is the first in a series of bonsai classes that will be offered to members of Kusamura who consider themselves beginners to the art of bonsai. The topic of this first class will cover “Introduction to Bonsai” and will meet from 9:30AM to 12:30PM in Menlo Park, CA.

A nominal fee of $10 is charged per class to cover the cost of materials used in the class. Note that class instructors volunteer their time and receive no compensation. Students are asked to bring material from a nursery or an in-progress bonsai to the classes that can be worked on throughout the year. Students are encouraged to use the book “Bonsai: Techniques, Styles, Display Ideas" by Peter Warren as a learning tool too. Note there are two copies of this book in the Kusamura library that members may check out.

Members may repeat this training but preference will be given to new members first and then to returning students who want to repeat the class. Contact Lynne for further details.

Potting Party on Sunday March 19

This is our last potting party before our annual show. The potting party will be from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Planting's home. Refer to Timely Work Schedule: Early March for a list of trees that can be transplanted/repotted at this potting party.

Each member of Kusamura is asked to donate trees or bonsai related items for sale at our 2017 annual show. First year members are asked to donate at least one tree/item while we ask longer-term members to donate three trees/items. Each item should be something we can sell for at least $25. The benefit drawing at our monthly club meetings is a great way to acquire material that can be used for future donations to this sale. By bringing trees you’ll donate to the potting party you can get assistance with styling as well as use club provided pots, soil and wire.

Also, bring in any club owned trees you are babysitting that need to be improved. Note that if you are donating cash or other items vs. trees the club still needs your help with the club owned trees. And you don't have to stay for the entire time. Some people prefer to come early while others start midday. For those of you who can arrive early and help with setup or stay late and help with breakdown, your assistance will be greatly appreciated.

The annual show and sale is the clubs major fundraiser for the year and supports the ongoing monthly programs. So come out and support the club by participating in this potting party to prepare for our annual sale. You are sure to learn a lot and will have fun with your fellow club members in the process. For new members without experience, help will be provided in styling and potting your trees.

The club thanks John and Sandy for making their home available.

Doughnuts will be provided but also consider bringing a bag lunch.

Reminder for 2017 Membership Dues

The club kindly reminds you that they are past due and hopes you choose to maintain your membership by contacting Treasurer Hal Jerman at your earliest convenience.

Timely Work Schedule

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: March Tasks

February Meeting Recap

By Dave Curbow

Originally Michael and I had intended to present a talk for new members and others who may not have made bonsai “soil” yet. And because February is a great time for repotting we also wanted to cover repotting basics. For example, to explain why it’s important during repotting that you don’t remove all the soil or “bare root”. During repotting you’ll break off the fine roots that absorb water. These fine roots take time to regrow and while that happens your tree may dry out. If you remove all the soil you won’t leave any fine roots and if the tree isn’t able to grow new ones fast enough it may die. Older trees regrow less quickly than younger trees so it is especially important not to bare root them. Instead, it’s recommended that you only remove soil from a “wedge” that’s no larger than 90-degrees when viewed from above. That preserves three quarters of the fine roots so the tree will survive. We also wanted to talk about different ways of tying trees into pots.

But, as I was preparing the talk on soil I found myself wanting to know “Why do we use certain components?” and “Why is one component better than another?” That led me to learning some basic science about how water, oxygen and nutrients are held within the soil. Because I had never heard anyone talk about this topic I thought others in the club might also find it interesting. The result was forty-eight slides! I was certain this would run too long and might be boring to the audience but afterwards several people told me they enjoyed learning some science behind soil. This experience has left me with a lot more questions that I want to understand so I’ll keep digging and will probably have more information to share in a few months. Because of the number of slides, and the bad rain that night, we decided to cut back on the amount of trees and pots we’d bring in to discuss repotting. Maybe we’ll schedule another talk on just repotting sometime.

The slides have been uploaded here.

I also recommend two related articles on our website

During the presentation we detoured briefly to discuss a great Ted Talk we had both seen. Canadian forestry researcher Suzanne Simard discussed how trees “talk” to each other, sharing nutrients, information about pest infestations, etc. thru mycorrhiza that connect their roots. The video is available here.

Social Network of trees and Fungi
Figure 1 – Image from CNN

Club Calendar

March 11: Beginner’s Bonsai Class with Lynne & Richard from 9:30AM – 12:30PM.
March 19: Bonsai potting party
April 21: “Maple Bud Nipping and Pruning” with Peter Tea
June 24-25: Our annual show

Other Events

March 4, 2017, Oakland
GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt: Ryan Neil will conduct a re-styling of the BGLM's Rocky Mountain Juniper to be held at the Lake Merritt Sailboat Boathouse from 1 to 4 PM. Demonstration is a fund-raising event in support of the Bonsai Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO) project to raise $100,000 to replace benches, upgrade water systems and install new pathways and windows. Tickets are $35 each (tax deductible) and are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Reserve tickets by emailing with your name, number of tickets requested, phone number, mailing address, and email address. If there is space for you, you will be asked to mail a check or credit card number, expiration date and zip code to GSBF BGLM, PO Box 16176, Oakland, CA 94610. Once purchased, the tickets are non-refundable.


March 11–12, 2017 Oakland, CA
Bay Area Bonsai Associates: 36th Annual Bonsai Exhibit at Lake Merritt Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue , Oakland. Hours are Saturday 5 PM – 9 PM with light dinner at 5:30 PM and demonstration by Bill Castellon, Gordon Deeg, and Jim Gremel at 6:30 PM. Hours for Sunday are 10 AM – 4 PM.

April 1-2, 2017 San Jose, CA
San Jose Betsuin Bonsai Club: 45th Annual Bonsai Exhibition and Demonstration at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, 640 North Fifth Street. Show hours are: Saturday Noon - 5 PM, and Sunday 11 AM - 4 PM with styling demonstrations at 1 PM on both days. Styled and pre-styled trees, as well as bonsai pots will be offered for sale on both days. For more information, contact Ken Azuma at or visit our website at

See GSBF Calendar for additional items

We Accept Donations

As a non-profit, we happily take charitable donations to sustain our club. In exchange, we will will get you a receipt to include when filing your taxes.

For more info see Donations

Articles We Recommend

Intro to Bonsai
About Your New Tree
Pine Pests

Other Sites We Recommend

Michael Hagedorn's blog
Bonsai Tonight
Peter Tea's blog

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