General Workshop

with Michael, Jerry and Marsha, May 19, 2017 @ 7:00pm

This is a general workshop where you can get assistance with one or more of your bonsai. Each member that brings a tree will get a table to work on and assistance from Michael, Jerry or Marsha or possibly all three of them. So bring your bonsai tools, wire, turn table, etc if you actually want to work on your tree. But no-repotting please. Members in attendance who don’t bring a tree will be able to observe and learn from the interactions.

NOTE: This meeting will end early as there is another special event starting at 9:00PM in the Fellowship Hall that night.


Club News

Officers and Board of Directors Nominees for the 2017-2018 Term

The following slate of officers and board of directors will be nominated by the 2017 Nominating Committee and voted on at our May meeting:

  • Lynne O’Dell — President
  • Marsha Mekisich — Vice President
  • Hal Jerman — Treasurer
  • Dave Curbow — Recording Secretary
  • Chris Weigen — Corresponding Secretary
  • Steve Kreiling — Board of Director (continuing term)
  • Mark O’Brien — Board of Director (continuing term)
  • Richard Phillips — Board of Director (completing Lynne’s term)
  • Christoff Dressel — Board of Director (new term)
  • John Mekisich — Board of Director (new term)
  • Sean Morris — Board of Director (new term)

Any nominations from the membership at large will be accepted in an open forum prior to voting that evening. Those elected will be sworn in at our annual show on Sunday, June 25 with terms effective July 1.

The club thanks Lynne O’Dell and Chris Weigen for lining up this great set of nominees.


“Bonsai in the Garden” at the Filoli Flower Show

Kusamura will be participating in the Filoli Flower Show June 1-4 by displaying an exhibit of eight tables of trees in the Garden House. Members interested in participating should contact Rita Curbow We’ll make this fun!


New Member InfoPacket Available

Richard Phillips and Lynne O’Dell have done a fabulous job of putting together a New Member’s Packet that will be given to each person joining the club. As an existing member, be sure to check it out on our website and let them know how nice it looks. The club greatly appreciates all the work they put into this.

The packet can be found here.

Annual Show 2017 Call for Trees

June 24 – 25 with setup on Friday June 23
Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

Our show is less than eight weeks away. Show Chair Charlene Fischer will be contacting you to collect information about the tree you plan to show. Sixty displays/trees are needed. If you know what tree(s) you are showing, contact Charlene with the following info:

  • Your name
  • The botanical or common name of the tree
  • The year you started training the tree

Lots of information about our annual show at Lucie Stern Community Center can be found online at ClubShow. The “Show Tree Checklist” can be referred to when prepping your tree for show. For parking info, building layout and driving directions click on Directions.

Sign up sheets/lists will be available at the May meeting but contact Charlene if you want more info before then.
We are also looking for volunteers for the Sunday demonstration. At least two people can work together and it is even better if four people sign up.

Help make our annual show a success by providing all the support you can to our Show Chair Charlene Fischer. Thanks Charlene!

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: May Tasks

April Meeting Recap

Peter Tea
Peter Tea

This was Peter’s second presentation on creating and caring for maple bonsai. You can catch a recap of Peter’s first presentation in the August 2016 newsletter available on the Kusamura website. Peter started his presentation by doing a recap of Part 1 and followed it up by presenting a general schedule for maple care in the Bay Area.

Peter Tea reminded us that before focusing on pruning and styling a tree, we should understand and be applying what the tree needs in the following categories:

  • Sun exposure/environment of tree
  • Watering
  • Soil mixture
  • Repotting interval
  • Fertilizer

Not doing one or more of these properly can cause the tree to react in an unpredictable way when you cut or prune it. You should prune or defoliate your maple when you:

  • Want to slow it’s growth down (removing a leaf weakens the tree)
  • Want smaller leaves. But don't worry about small leaves until the tree is where you want it structurally
  • Want wiring to be easier (Fewer or no leaves allows you to see more)
  • Want fall color or better color. A tree will retain the second set of leaves longer in winter and therefore show more fall color
  • Want to “maintain” the trees current ramification (this should not be confused with “creating” ramification)

But before pruning or defoliating a maple, the tree should have runners, be bushy, and have foliage that has hardened off (i.e., the leaves are firm and waxy to the touch).

Remember that cutting weakens and therefore stresses the tree but causes division once the tree starts to recover.

A tree always wants to grow at the terminal end of a branch. Not pruning the terminal end will maximize the speed at which the branch will thicken further back. Peter said he loves seeing a tree with six-foot branches because he knows the owner has thought about it and has a plan they’re “shooting” for.

Proper shade means the tree will still grow, the leaves won't burn and the tree is protected from wind. Peter places fifty percent shade cloths above his trees and on the appropriate sides.

Refer to the August 2016 newsletter for a recap of what Peter said about insect and fungus control.

In Part 2 of Peter’s presentation, he provided this general schedule for working on deciduous trees in the Bay Area:

  • Repot tree at beginning of year if needed (Jan/Feb)
  • Pinch leaves / nip buds (March/April)
  • Graft/wire/prune/defoliate (May 1)
  • Check wiring (June 1)
  • Pinch again to slow down growth (July/August)
  • Prune, wire, or defoliate again only if tree is very healthy (Sept 1)
  • Check wire and remove if necessary (Oct)
  • Clean up the tree by removing dead leaves and thin out smaller unwanted branches. (Nov/Dec)

Note that steps 5-6 are repeats of steps 2-4 but just later in the year.

Peter tends to not wire or leave wire on deciduous trees during the winter because the tree is not growing. Peter does this as precautionary step to prevent wire marks on branches with rapid spring growth.

Leaf hardening tends to be early May in the Bay Area. You should see lots of runners. If not, wait until you do because the tree will be stronger at that time.

Peter’s demo tree was a beech and Peter pointed out that you should never defoliate a beech as this process is too stressful for it. The beech will be auctioned off at our annual show in June.

Club Calendar

May 19: General Workshop with Jerry, Michael & Marsha

May 20: Beginner Bonsai Class “Styling/Horticulture” with Jerry Carpenter

June 24-25: Our annual show

Other Events

May 14 - 15, 2016, Palo Alto
Akebono Bonsai Club & Kashu Suiseki Kai: Annual Exhibition at Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, 2751 Louis Road. Show hours are Noon – 5 PM both days. Demonstration each day at 2:00 PM/ Raffle drawing for door prizes immediately following each demonstration. Must be present to win. Free admission. For more information, call (408) 857-5463.

May 21 – 22, 2016, Oakland
Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai (BASA): 21st Annual Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Show at the Lakeside Garden Center, Lake Merritt, 666 Bellevue Avenue. Show hours are 10 AM – 5 PM Saturday and 11 AM – 4 PM Sunday with demonstration by Bonsai Master Artist Johnny Uchilda Saturday between 1 and 3 PM. Demonstration tree will be raffled. Sales area will have beginner material plus imported plants from Japan. Benefit drawing. Free admission. Public parking is available. For more information, contact George Haas at

June 4 and 5, 2016, San Mateo
Sei Boku Bonsai Kai: 33rd Annual Show at the San Mateo Garden Center. 605 Parkside Way (next to Beresford Park). Show hours are 10 AM to 4 PM both days, with demonstration by Dennis Makishima from Noon – 3 PM on Saturday (tree will be raffled off at the conclusion of demo). Sunday Dennis will lead an open view workshop from Noon – 3 PM. Large club member plant sale, vendors, door prizes and our always-popular raffles. Admission is free. Dr. Bonsai will be available to offer styling and care tips. For more information, contact Marsha Mekisich 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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