Pacific Bonsai Expo

Pacific Bonsai Expo

An Exhibition of Extraordinary Bonsai

The Bridge Yard

Oakland, California

November 12-13, 2022

The Pacific Bonsai Expo is the vision of Jonas Dupuich, Eric and Dory Schrader, consisting of the historic Oakland’s Bridge Yard venue, 75 displays of juried bonsai and the community’s top vendors. There will be a trophy for Best in show and $10,000 in cash prizes for Large Conifer, Large Deciduous, Large Broadleaf Evergreen, Medium display, and Shohin display. A Saturday evening banquet and awards ceremony will highlight the event. Tickets for day passes, weekend passes, commemorative photo book and banquet will go on sale soon.

Jurors Bjorn Bjorholm, Ryan Neil, and William N. Valavanis selected the trees. The exhibitors are the judges.

Details can be found at

This is just the beginning! For the past 14 years, the east coast held the biannual US National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, New York. Finally, Pacific Bonsai Expo will be located on the west coast in Oakland, California. There are discussions of making it biannually with the potential of rotating it between Oakland and Portland, Oregon.

It will take a community to build this show. Your support is needed by raising funds and volunteering in the actual event.

REBS board has agreed to solicit funds from the membership in an effort to raise $500 towards direct support of Pacific Bonsai Expo. The funds will provide donor recognition and four admission passes. The four admission passes will be raffled at some future REBS general meeting or event. Please make your donation before or on July 30.

Any amount of funds is greatly appreciated. Mail your check payable to REBS with a memo “Pacific Bonsai Expo” to: Treasurer Paul Wycoff, 6550 Stone Bridge Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95409-5833

Demonstration by Boon Manakitivipart – Common Olive & Shimpaku Juniper

REBS was privileged to have internationally acclaimed bonsai artist Boon Manakitivipart present the program at our May 26, 2022 meeting. Boon gave us a bit of his personal bonsai history as an introduction, detailing his first frustrating efforts in the 1980’s to even get his trees to live, and his opportunities beginning in the early 1990’s to study in Japan and learn from masters there. Boon spoke of apprenticing in gardens that specialized in Japanese Black Pines and the wealth of high quality material there to study and work on. During his training he had the opportunity to work on several trees that subsequently won top prizes at the Kokufu show in Japan. He has carried this love and study of JBP and bonsai in general to his work in the US at his gardens outside Sacramento, California.

Boon worked on three trees during his presentation, the first an olive. He explained that olives with big leaves are referred to as Mission Olives or Common Olives. These will bear fruit, but those with small leaves do not. Olives are easy to collect locally in old orchards or neighbors’ yards, and if you have a good trunk of a common olive the smaller foliage of the small leaved variety can be grafted on from cuttings. In the wild olives have no shape to the foliage, they just look shaggy, but they can have wonderful chunky trunks which make dramatic bonsai when the branches are directed with wire. Branches are grown out for girth and pruned to the desired shape when the tree is full and healthy. On more mature trees pinching will help keep the tree in shape, but Boon warned not to take all the new growth off. When pinching and cutting back in the spring it is important to leave some growing tips so the branch won’t die. During spring cleanup old leaves and downward pointing leaves can be removed to better show good branching and ramification. Also be sure to remove the suckers on the trunk. In styling an olive Boon suggests leaving the top a little fuller. Overall, the ideal is a triangular shape with a slightly rounded top, and it is important to keep the tree looking balanced.

In his bonsai journey finding the right potting soil for his trees was a big challenge for Boon. Now we have easy access to Akadama clay from Japan and premixed soils with lava and pumice as well, but when Boon started those materials were not available in the US and the prevailing “wisdom” here was to include some organics in the soil mix, like orchid bark or peat moss. His trees were failing because the soil became too wet, compromising the health of the trees, so he read everything he could find about soil, including every issue of Bonsai Today from the very beginning of its publication. It took years of experimenting with many combinations before Boon found the blend he favors, which is Akadama/lava/pumice with about 5% decomposed granite. This last ingredient is similar to the sand the Japanese refer to in their mixes. Boon includes it based on his observations of the natural habitat of junipers and pines in the mountains where they grow well in granite.

The second tree Boon worked on was a small, healthy shimpaku juniper. He used this tree to illustrate the importance of balancing growth in a bonsai and keeping the tree developing new branches with proper pruning techniques. Boon was cutting the long shoots on this tree at this time pointing out how evenly distributed they were on the tree which indicates optimal, balanced growth. He was not going through the tree taking off all the green tips. Long ago this was what local teachers recommended, but it stunted the growth of trees because these growing tips are what is needed to keep the tree vibrant and healthy. You also don’t want to prune a juniper, or any tree, at the wrong time which can also slow the growth or result in branches dying off. Boon mentioned that many bonsai hobbyists work on their trees too much or take off too many of the important growing tips. The result is prickly juvenile growth which is usually not desired, and little or no branch development. If this has happened on our trees, he suggests letting them grow out for at least a year and starting again with the pruning when the mature growth has returned. Weaker branches should be allowed to grow without pruning.

Boon saved the raffle tree for last, an olive whose trunk is a  “nice chunk of lumber”. This is a collected common olive with the larger leaves, but Boon had grafted cuttings of a smaller leaf olive in strategic places on the branches. He talked about the 30-40 year old tree and how the trunk could be made to look older and given more character with some carving. He recommends hand tools which encourages a slow approach, stepping back and reviewing the work before moving on, resulting in a more natural look. The grafts had pieces of blue painters’ tape on them which acts as shade cloth for the graft and keeps them moist as they grow.  Boon suggested we all need to learn to let our trees grow, not overwork them and allow them to have a more natural aspect. The ultimate goal for this tree is to make it look like it came from the mountains.

Diane Matzen was the lucky winner of the raffle and picked up a few more growing tips at Boon’s workshop the next day. We want to thank Boon for an inspiring talk and sharing his expertise and wisdom with us.

Write up by Candace Key

Boon is a past apprentice of Kihachiro Kamia of Japan and Boon has many students as well as private clients throughout the country and the world. He has developed several now common bonsai practices including the 1:1:1 soil mix (Boon’s mix) and half bareroot repotting technique.

He first trimmed a developed olive by removing all of the six inch long spring growth back to one or two sets of leaves. This will encourage new growth and shorter internodes that will be refined later in the growing season.
Boon then explained how juniper should be grown strong enough to produce long extending tip growth. Only when the extending tip growth goes well beyond the silhouette should the tip be cut back to the silhouette. Clean all growth below each pad and never pinch tip growth on a juniper. You can cut the one extending long strong tip.
This is the olive stump before any work. A large stump with large leaf and small leaf growth. The large leaves are from the stump of the commercial (fruiting) olive. The small leaf growth has been grafted from a seed grown plant which does not produce fruit. Boon then removed much growth and placed several more grafts on.
This is the grafting technique Boon uses now. The graft is a two pair leaf cutting inside the plastic bag with wet sphagnum moss. The bag tied closed with a long copper wire and the graft stick end poking out of a corner of the bag. These can be prepared ahead of time. The graft stick is cut on both sides forming a “V” which is inserted into a slice of a short branch. The graft is tied to the branch tightly with stretchy plastic tape. The wire is used to secure the graft to the end of the short branch. If the bag dries out, you can put more water in using a syringe and needle to keep it moist. Painter’s tape can be put on top of the bag to act as shade cover until the graft begins to extend.
At the end of the evening the newly grafted stump was raffled off to Diane Matzen.
Diane Matzen and Boon Manakitivipart

Photographs and captions by Michael Murtaugh

Demonstration by Eric Schrader – Air Layering Seiju Elm

On April  28, 2022, Eric Schrader was the guest demonstrator for the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) in Santa Rosa, California. Eric is a long time member and former president of the Bonsai Society of San Francisco (BSSF). He is a professional vendor, dba Bonsai For You; website Eric has produced a number of instructional videos available on You Tube. Eric and Jonas Dupuich are the founders of the Pacific Bonsai Expo scheduled for November 12 and 13, 2022, at the Bridge Yard, Oakland, California.

Eric’s demonstration was on seasonal work on Deciduous bonsai. He brought to the demo bonsai, one being a large Pomegranate and the other Seiju Elm. He first led a discussion of cutting back to the shape of the silhouette on the Pomegranate. The tree showed hardened new growth of shoots beyond the shape or silhouette. Eric cut each protruding shoot. He exercised caution to maintain the shape of the bonsai. No major cutting back, thinning of foliage or wiring took place. Eric discussed the difference of cutting vs. pinching. Cutting was used to shape and in branch development, whereas pinching was used to weaken and slow down growth of the branches.

Large Pomegranate
Cutting back new growth

He then moved onto the Seiju Elm, which would become the demo tree to be raffled at the conclusion. Common Name: Seiju Chinese Elm or Cork Bark Seiju Elm or Seiju Elm or Seiju Lacebark Elm. Ulmus Parvifolia ‘Seiju’ is the botanical name.

Medium Cork Bark Seiju Elm

The demo tree was a Cork Bark Seiju Elm featuring a very rough bark trunk. The tree would measure about 12 inches in height. Eric pointed out a number of flaws in the demo tree. One, the nebari or visible surface roots of bonsai was straight on its base. There were a number of large roots exposed around the base of the tree. The trunk was thick without any taper towards the apical region. Primary branches were large and inflexible. A number of branches grew from a portion of trunk that appeared as a large fist on the tree. There was healthy foliage located in the apical region of the tree. Eric pointed out the foliage could be easily removed and regrown on the Seiju Elm.

Eric identified three potential remedies for the Seiju Elm.

  • Air layer midrange up the trunk;
  • Air layer upper range to the trunk;
  • Remove most of the upper range to the trunk.

He then asked the members to select from among the three courses of action above. The members chose the air layering midrange up the trunk, the lesser in radical transformation of the demo tree. The demo became instruction on air layering the Seiju Elm.

Eric first cut and removed some of the exposed large roots surrounding the base of the trunk. He then took a sharp knife and began removing the cork bark, the process of air layering. Note: There are two air layering methods; ring method and tourniquet. Eric used the ring method on the demo tree.

Ring Method:

The ring method works by cutting two slits around the branch at the area you want new roots to grow. Once you’ve made your slit marks, remove the bark, and you’re left with a shiny ring. The ring must be wide enough and deep enough for the tree to send out the rooting signal. Once you’re satisfied with your ring, cover it up entirely with a select soil medium and plastic. Eric used an 8 oz. plastic cup that he cut and fitted to the ring area of the trunk. He filled the cup with a medium mix of 80% coarse perlite and 20% coco coir. Then he used 16 gauge copper wire to affix the plastic cup to the trunk. Water will be needed to keep the medium mix moistened and allow new roots to grow. Note: the plastic cup used should allow one to see the new roots form. Sphagnum moss can be added to help keep the medium mix from drying out.

The lower portion of the trunk is removed once new roots have filled the plastic cup. Note: Elms tend to back bud easily at the cut site. The new buds will circle the wound area, and so branch development is possible for the lower portion of the trunk. Thus, one could make two small trees as a result of air layering.

Eric suggested that once the upper trunk is separated that the heavy, thick branches be thinned out.

Research online indicates that Seiju Elms are easy to grow as bonsai and can be an excellent choice for beginners as well as experienced levels.