Holiday Party, December 16 starting @ 7PM

Members Only

Our December program will be a holiday party to socialize with fellow club members and their families. Alison Williams is our party coordinator for this event. What you need to know:

  • The club is providing a main dish of ham, turkey, and wine
  • Each person attending should bring a potluck dish that serves 6 to 8. The potluck dish should be a salad, vegetable, side dish, or dessert
  • All attendees may participate in our holiday gift exchange. Simply bring a gift that is wrapped and valued around $25. Bonsai-related items or Japanese art are usually preferred but other items like wine and chocolate are usually a hit too.
  • A special benefit drawing for club members in attendance will be held. Rita has collected some bonsai pots (donated to the club throughout the year) for this drawing but is looking for additional donations if you have an item. Club members present will get a free ticket to participate in the holiday drawing. Our regular benefit drawing will resume in January.

So come and share some holiday cheer and great food, reminisce about the year that has come and gone, and enjoy getting to know your fellow club members in the process. You're sure to have a HO, HO, HO lot of fun.

Contact Alison if you have any questions.

Holiday Table Centerpieces

Our holiday table centerpieces will be bonsai that have been decorated in the holiday spirit. Rita is bringing one decorated bonsai but is looking for five additional volunteers to bring a pre-decorated bonsai. Be creative with your holiday theme. The bonsai can be an individual tree, a group planting, a saikei, etc. Note that the bonsai should be of medium height so people sitting at the table can see each other. Contact Alison or Rita to sign up to bring a decorated bonsai.

Club News

Potting Party Thanks

Preparation for our 2017 annual show got off to a good start on November 20 as seventeen club members and two guests participated in the event. This was an especially good turnout considering we had rain throughout the day.

The next potting parties will be January 29 and March 19.

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: December Tasks

Now is the time to spray for fungus and pests that may attack your trees over the winter. For more info see Pest and Fungus Control Basics.

November Meeting Recap

Jonas Dupuich did a great job demonstrating how to create an exposed root bonsai using eight-month old pine seedlings. Jonas said growing bonsai from scratch is all about growing the trunk first and then focusing on the branches. Jonas also said if you don’t do the right thing early on then you’ll never turn the tree into a good bonsai.

Valerie Monroe discussing club member Alan Merrifield's pine
Figure 2 – Jonas Dupuich discussing exposed root pines he brought in

In addition to showing us a slide show of various exposed root bonsai, Jonas asked us to guess the age of two exposed root bonsai he had on hand. We responded with estimates of ten, twenty and even thirty years. Both trees were only twelve years old. We were all amazed at how quickly you could get such dramatic results when starting with a seedling.

For exposed root bonsai, you will need a really deep four-inch liner that allows for good drainage. Tree seedling growing containers can be purchased online from such vendors as A.M. Leonard.

Jonas uses a soil mixture of one-part akadama, one-part pumice and one-part lava for planting a seedling for exposed root development. The aggregation of your soil mixture should be bigger at the top of the container and smaller at the bottom. If you plant your tree crooked, the tree will straighten up as it bends toward the light resulting in a "free bend" in the tree. In the spring start fertilizing the seedling, keep it in full sun and feed, feed, feed.

One of his trees
Figure 2 – One of his trees (click for larger view)

Exposed Root Bonsai Development Schedule: Roots in an exposed root bonsai perform the function of a trunk in a normal bonsai. Jonas pointed out that the toughest decision is deciding if you want fewer larger roots or more roots but smaller in diameter. At the end of its first year in the container, wire one branch. If you want a large tree, put a long curve in the bent branch. If you want a small tree, put a tight curve in the bent branch. Leave the other branches on to cause the trunk to thicken faster. Cut these off once your trunk has reached the desired thickness and the branch is not wanted for the style of the tree.

You will plant the tree in a tall 4-inch liner. If the liner you have isn't as tall as you'd like, cut off the bottom of another liner and stack the two together. Add some soil to a regular growing pot and then place the liner(s) on top of the soil. Wire the liner so it won't wiggle. Put the tree into the liner - extending the roots as far down as possible. Fill the liner with bonsai soil and work it around the roots. Add more soil to the regular bonsai pot as needed.

Around the fifth or sixth year, remove the soil and container around the upper portion of the roots and expose them, keeping the bottom of the roots within the pot.

Regular Pine Pruning Techniques: Prune back to two buds in each location. Jonas pointed out that a branch with twelve buds is too strong. Remove the entire branch and let other branches grow. Keep lots of extra branches to maintain strength and promote ramification in the desired areas. Remember when you remove energy in one area of a tree more energy will be directed into the remaining branches on the tree.

Jonas also told us how you can play games to boost the tree at the base by de-candling the top branches.

Trees Suitable as Exposed Root Bonsai: In addition to black pines, other varieties of trees that work well as exposed root bonsai include red pines, azaleas, maples and olives. A red pine will grow well on its own roots but white pines are grafted onto black pine roots.

Using a Colander for Root Development: A colander can be used to develop really fine roots on a tree. Jonas said the best growers in Japan often grow a ten-foot tree in a regular size colander sitting in water. How can that be? When the root tip hits a hole it quits growing and ramification occurs further back along the given root. You will need to water a tree more often if grown in a colander. In addition to pines, Junipers will respond the same way when grown in a colander. I know everyone will agree that it was a great presentation by Jonas!

Club Calendar

December: Club holiday party on December 15.
June: Our annual show is June 24-25, 2017.

Other Events

January 28-29, 2017, Oakland
Bay Island Bonsai: Annual Bonsai Exhibit at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave. Show hours are 10 AM – 4 PM, both days. Saturday: Auction preview starts at Noon with auction at 1 PM. Sunday: Workshop open to the bonsai community. Guided tours of the exhibit Saturday and Sunday. Vendor sales, club sales, educational bonsai material for sale and a special pot sale this year. Entry to the exhibit is free, donations accepted. Learn more and register for the workshop by calling (510) 919-5042 or visit

February 18-19, 2017 Oakland
GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt: The annual Mammoth Auction and Sale Fund Raiser will be held at 666 Bellevue Ave. (Garden Center Building). Saturday: Auction preview at noon with Auction starting at 1 PM. Sunday: Vendor Sales start at 9 AM, Plant Sales start at 10 AM, and demonstrations at 1 PM. The date for this year’s event is a week earlier than in the past to let attendees and vendors participate in both the Mammoth and the Bonsai-a-Thon. You are encouraged to submit your bonsai for consideration to be included in the Mammoth Auction as soon as possible. Items will be considered on a first-come-first-considered basis. The Bonsai Garden will be open 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturday and Noon to 4 PM on Sunday, so you can check out the many changes that have been made this year. For more information or to sell trees, email and visit


See GSBF Calendar for additional items

Articles We Recommend

Intro to Bonsai
About Your New Tree
Redwood Basics
Pine Pests

Other Sites We Recommend

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

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