On February 25, 2020, at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden
Center, Santa Rosa, California, Jonas Dupuich was the guest bonsai artist and
instructor for the members of Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS). Jonas
demonstrated on creating and growing exposed root Japanese Black Pine bonsai. He
has been growing Japanese Black Pine from seeds for the past 26 years. The
exposed root bonsai technique is most popular with the Japanese dwarf flowering
quince or Chojubai bonsai. It is used with Japanese Black Pine and Satsuki
Azalea bonsai as well.
Jonas brought to the demonstration two of his own examples of mature exposed root Japanese Black Pine bonsai. Each 16 years in training, grown from seed. See photos.
In addition, he also brought Japanese Black Pine exposed root plants, one 10 years in training and the other one-year old, both from seed. These two plants were raffled upon completion of the demonstration. See photos.
Style – exposed root bonsai can be given the story as
falling off the side of a cliff or even damaged from a flooding. It can be with
long versus short roots depending on design. The roots may be thick and large
or slim and small. There can be a certain balance of roots supporting the trunk.
Pots – suitable pots are usually round in shape and can be
grey, red or brown.
Jonas began his demonstration with a slideshow depicting
various exposed root Japanese Black Pine bonsai from a recent trip to the
Kokufu Ten 2020 Exhibition and Green Room in Japan. The pictures showed
different shapes and paths for the exposed roots. No one bonsai looked the
The first demonstration plant was the one-year old. Jonas
used a one gallon nursery container and blocked the large holes in the bottom
with construction sheet wall tape to prevent soil from leaking out. He then
filled the bottom with a small bonsai soil mix (Clay King premix and pumice).
Next, he inserted larger pieces of Japanese Hyuga (pumice). Jonas used a long
nursery container popular with nurseries for Blueberry plants and placed it
upside down (narrow bottom with a hole on the up side) in the one gallon
container. By placing the second container upside down this would prevent the
roots from growing wide to narrow or like a reverse taper. This second
container was then filled with the Hyuga large pieces. Finally, the one year
old Japanese Black Pine plant was inserted through the hole with all its roots
attached. With the roots planted in the second container, it is then filled
with more of the small bonsai soil mix. The latter will help keep the roots
Jonas commented on watering by citing less water was needed. It should never be allowed to dry out completely.
Jonas said the planting should be checked three to five
years later unless you want a smaller exposed root bonsai, like a Shohin. Once
you established the size of the roots desired, then you must remove the small
bonsai soil mix and large pieces of Hyuga. This is best done with a pick tool
The exposed roots can be then manipulated in many ways to style your bonsai.
Jonas moved on to the 10-year old exposed root Japanese
Black Pine demonstration tree. This plant was contained in a round terra cotta
pot with the exposed roots partially planted inside plastic bonsai drainage
screen material. The plant was allowed to grow without much attention. There
were two large sacrifice branches for thickening the trunk still attached. A
number of smaller branches were located near the base of the trunk.
Jonas first wanted to choose a front view and there were
two options based on the shape and flow of the existing branches. The front
view was marked with a chopstick. Of the smaller branches, two long branches near
the base of the trunk were selected to wire. A single piece of Aluminum wire
was used to wrap around the two branches. Starting at the back, Jonas wrapped
the wire around the two long branches. He cut off several of the smallest
branches as they were not needed. Once wiring was done, Jonas had REBS member
Diane Matzen to establish movement in a downward direction and end facing the
front view. Then, on the other wired branch REBS member Michael Murtaugh
established movement in an upward direction, ending towards the front view.
These wired branches gave the future owner choices in styling the bonsai,
either downward for a cascade or upward for an informal upright style.
Jonas discussed the technique of bending branches and putting movement in the bonsai. He said bending should always start at the trunk and move in a downward or upward direction. There should be no flat wiring or straight areas. Always check your bending of branches afterwards and fix any straight areas. Black pine branches are very flexible but always support with your fingers the bends.
Upon completion of the demonstration, Diane Matzen won the 10-year old bonsai and REBS member Mike Nelson won the one-year old bonsai. Congratulations to both.
REBS members will participate in the 32nd Annual Sonoma County Home & Garden Show with the display of bonsai and accent plants. To participate, call Art Kopecky at 707-849-6974 or sign up at the REBS monthly meeting on February 25, 2020. Set up will be on Friday, March 20, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. You can also participate by signing up to be a docent.
On January 28, 2020, club sensei Kathy Shaner performed a demonstration for members of the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) working on a Maidenhair tree ‘Weeping Wonder’ (Ginkgo biloba ‘Weeping Wonder’)
Nice new weeping dwarf Maidenhair tree. It does have an upright leader with side branches going horizontal or slightly weeping. Leaves vary from lime green to dark green depending on environment. Characteristics: Sun Exposure – Sun; Annual Growth – 6 – 9 inches; @ 10 years – 5 feet x 2 feet; Color – green; Growth Rate – intermediate; Hardiness Zone – Zones 4-8. When the leaves drop, they drop rapidly, forming a golden carpet around the tree. Ginkgo have no serious insect or disease problems, making it a low maintenance plant. Low maintenance; soil moisture – moist to average, well drained; growth rate – slow; deciduous – fall color.1
Kathy started working with the demonstration tree by
uncovering the nebari. The tree was in a nursery container and so she used a
chopstick to dig around the base of the trunk, removing top soil to expose the
root structure. The nebari is the flair or surface roots radiating from the
trunk. Kathy pointed out that you can not really determine the front of your
bonsai without uncovering the surface roots. The front of the bonsai is
determined by the appearance of the surface roots or nebari and interesting movement
of the trunk.
Some of the many branches on the demonstration tree were
cut and removed. When cutting roots and branches it is critical to have sharp
tools. The cuts must be clean. Branch cuts must be smooth to heal quickly. This
is accomplished by using a sharp knife.
The Ginkgo biloba species has a tiny hole in the
center of the branches. When cutting the branch this hole is exposed and can
rot out from watering and rain. Cut paste is not effective to prevent water
from rotting out the cut branches. So, it is important to cut the branch on an
angle and to round off any tops or leaders. See images for examples.
Kathy noted that the cuttings from the Ginkgo biloba
are easy to propagate.
A number of primary branches on the demonstration tree
needed to pulled downward. A guy wire was used to perform this styling feature.
A rubber or plastic tubing was serrated so as not to pinch the branch. Copper
#16 was inserted into the tubing on one end and wrapped around the branch to be
pulled down. The other end of the wire was attached to the side of the nursery
container by making a hole in the container. The guy wire technique was
considered to be better than wiring the branch.
Another styling technique used on the demonstration tree
was to insert tiny pieces of bamboo between two branches, thereby separating
the branches so they did not grow too close to each other.
Wiring – Kathy used very little wiring of the Ginkgo
biloba. She cautioned against having wiring cuts caused by wrapping wire
around the branches too tightly or leaving the wire on the branches too long. Wiring
should be loosely wrapped around the branches. Paper can be wrapped around the
wire to help protect the branches. The holding period on wired branches depends
a lot on the growth of the tree. A watchful eye must be taken to ensure the
wiring does not cut into the branches.
Kathy proceeded to remove and thin out branches. This will
allow sun light in to the interior of the tree. Remove branches located in the
crotches. Kathy suggested not to stay in one place while thinning out the
branches. Instead, move around and work in a manner to balance the work areas.
Upon completion of the demonstration, the Ginkgo biloba
‘Weeping Wonder’ was raffled off. The winner was Joanne Lumsden.
1 Internet searches on Ginkgo
biloba ‘Weeping Wonder’.