Deciduous Tree Improvement

with Peter Tea, April 21, 2017 @ 7:00pm

Peter Tea
Peter Tea

We are happy to have bonsai artist Peter Tea back again this month to discuss and demonstrate how to improve ramification in deciduous trees and wire them. This will be a continuation of the deciduous tree demonstration Peter did in July 2016.

Peter will work on a beech tree, which will be auctioned-off at the end of the meeting. Peter will also bring a few trees and other items for sale to club members.

Peter has been a member of San Jose’s Midori Bonsai Club since 2002. He started his apprenticeship in Japan under Mr. Junihiro Tanaka at Aichien Gardens in Japan in 2011. He finished what is normally a five-year apprenticeship in only two years. You can follow Peter’s blog at


Club News

“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!


Beginner Bonsai Class Update

with Lynne O’Dell and Richard Phillips

Beginner Bonsai Class Update
The Beginner Bonsai Class “Introduction to Bonsai” was held on March 11 at the home of Richard and Barbara Phillips. Lynne O’Dell and Richard taught the class which was their first experience doing so. They had a great time and have volunteered to repeat this class two more times during the year. It will be offered again on Saturday, July 8 to enable people attending our annual show to take the class and get help with a tree they purchased at our show as well as members who missed it the first time.

The full suite of five Beginner Bonsai classes as designed by Jerry Carpenter will be offered throughout the year to those interested. Here’s what’s currently known:

  • “Styling/Horticulture” - This class will be taught on Saturday, May 20
    Jerry Carpenter will teach with Richard Phillips as his Understudy
  • “Introduction to Bonsai” – Will be offered for the second time on July 8
  • “Introduction to Bonsai” – Will be offered for the second time on July 8
  • “Seasonal Care/Styles” – This class will be taught sometime in the fall
  • “Repotting/Soil” – This class will be taught by Lynne and Richard sometime in the fall.
  • “Wiring” – This class will be taught by Jerry sometime in the fall with Richard as his Understudy

The club extends a big THANK YOU to Richard and Barbara Phillips for hosting the Beginner’s Classes and to Lynne, Richard and Jerry for teaching them. They team has put a lot of effort into coming up with a plan and schedule that will enable beginner bonsai classes to be offered on a seasonal basis.

For additional information about these classes and/or to sign up, please contact Lynne O’Dell .

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.

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.

Nominating Committee

It’s time for elections of a new slate of officers to run the club for the term beginning July 1, 2017. Lynne O’Dell and Christine Weigen have volunteered as the Nominating Committee for this important task. Nominations by the committee will be announced at our May 19th monthly meeting. Any nominations from the membership at large will be accepted at this time also. Voting will take place that evening and all officers elected will then be sworn in at our annual show on Sunday, June 25.

Thanks for 30-years Hosting Potting Parties!

John and Sandy Planting have hosted these parties for thirty years and are ready to retire from this duty! The club cannot thank John and Sandy enough for their hospitality and dedication to the welfare of the club demonstrated in this capacity for thirty years.

John and Sandy hosted their last party on March 19. The club thanks the following members who participated: Richard Inocencio, Mark O’Brien, Charlene Fischer, Suresh “Mo” Mohan, Hal Jerman, John Mekisich, Marsha Mekisich, Lynne O’Dell, Steve Kreiling, Richard Phillips, Barbara Phillips, Christoff Dressel, Desmond Johnson, Katherine Glessey, Michael Greenstein, Rita Curbow and of course John and Sandy. Thanks also to Dave Curbow who made all the soil and to Charlene for getting all the bonsai pots and wire to and fro.

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: April Tasks

March Meeting Recap

March Meeting Recap Our March meeting was well attended and our bonsai pot sale was a resounding success. Out of the hundred bonsai pots offered for sale, eighty pots were sold. All these pots were from the collection of bonsai pots donated by Nora Morton.

During the first half of the meeting Jerry Carpenter and Gordon Deeg focused on trees they brought in and pointed out how to determine if a tree is ready for show. Rule 1, all trees must be healthy and free of pests. You don’t want to transfer a disease to other trees in the show. And, it looks unprofessional to our visitors if they see insects on our trees!

For trees like an olive look for scale and white flies. To kill scale use a cotton swab soaked with alcohol. White flies can be removed using a stronger than normal force of water from your watering wand (a “blast”) to both the top and undersides of the leaves. Follow up with a product like Indoor Pharm rosemary oil spray underneath the canopy. Always put the tree in the shade for two days to prevent sun damage. Ultrafine or Neem oil can also be used. This method also works well on aphids.

After the break many club members brought a tree up to the stage and got suggestions about improving it. About fifteen trees were discussed.

There was plenty of humor to go around also as Jerry and Gordon reminded us “plucked chickens are out as well as too much obvious wire” and Richard Phillips followed it up with “It must be a Trump Tower because it’s wire tapped”. Jerry pointed out wire can be made inconspicuous by coloring it using a black sharpie. Also, wire should not be cutting into branches. It’s best to only use fine wire when wiring a tree for show.

Junipers should have a shari and some jins because that’s how junipers grow. Deadwood should be cleaned using a stainless steel brush. These can be found in the paint department of Orchard Supply, Home Depot, etc. If the wood hasn’t been treated to prevent rotting you should do that. Historically lime sulfur was used as a wood hardener, but this material is now illegal in California. Small qualities can be ordered from suppliers outside of California, but there are alternatives. Besides, when used directly from the bottle the wood will be unnaturally white until it weathers. To compensate, people have added small amounts of pigment, such as India ink.

Newer alternatives are Minwax Wood Hardener or PC Petrifier. PC Petrifier is preferred because it can be applied in multiple coats, unlike Minwax. But Minwax is easier to find locally. PC Petrifier is available from Amazon.

When discussing bonsai pots, Gordon pointed out that an old pot makes the tree look older while a newer looking pot will make the tree look younger. When cleaning pots for show you don’t want to remove the patina. Do not oil or scrub glazed bonsai pots. Remove excessive dirt by lightly buffing it using a soft cloth such as an old t-shirt.

Kudos to Jerry and Gordon for a very informative demonstration! The club also extends a special thanks to Sandy Vrooman for her donation of several flats of accent plants and small bonsai that were used on the raffle table that evening. Her donation provided 90% or more of the items on the table that night.

It was a really fun evening and thanks to everyone who presented, donated items, schlepped items to and fro, ran the sales event, and assisted with setup and breakdown of everything. We make a great team!


Gordon Deeg discussing tree with a club member
Figure 1 – Gordon Deeg discussing tree with a club member

Club Calendar

April 21: “Maple Bud Nipping and Pruning” with Peter Tea
June 24-25: Our annual show

Other Events

April 1-2, 2017 San Jose
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

April 8 - 9, 2017, Santa Cruz,
Santa Cruz Bonsai Kai: 29th Annual Show at the Museum of Art & History, 705 Front Street. Show hours are 10 AM - 5 PM both days with demonstration at 2 PM. Saturday’s demonstrator is Eric Schrader and Sunday’s will be Mr. Katsumi Kinoshita. Demonstration tree and trees prepared by club members will be part of the raffle each day after the demonstration. Sales area will include quality vendor and member trees, pots, and other related bonsai items both days. Admission price of $5.00 includes the Bonsai Show as well as admission to all the Museum exhibits. For more information contact Ed Lambing at

May 20 - 21, 2017 Palo Alto
Akebono Bonsai Club and Kashu Suiseki Kai: 55th and 51st Annual Show held at the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, 2751 Louis Rd. Show hours are Noon to 5 PM each day with demonstration at 2 PM, followed by demo raffle and door prizes. Free Admission. For more information contact

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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