Here are some of the members who contribute significantly to the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) and make extraordinary efforts to make club operations and programs run smoothly throughout the year.
On April 24, 2018, our monthly general meeting and demonstration featured Club Sensei Kathy Shaner. Kathy demonstrated on a Prostrata juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) (also known as a creeping juniper).
She started the demo with the question everyone of us should ask ourselves before working on a tree, and that is “What is interesting about this tree?” Kathy then described the movement of the trunk and potential flow or direction of the foliage. The trunk was somewhat narrow with a slight taper towards the top of the tree. The direction was clear and the foliage would be styled to flow in the that direction. This, of course, meant some of the foliage at the top would have to be removed as it appeared to flow in two and opposite directions. Kathy said the juniper lend itself to the bunjin or literati style of bonsai.
By nature, this style of tree can be located in dense forests where competition is restricting and the tree can only struggle to survive by growing upward and taller than the other trees. The trunk is bent and without branches due to the sun reaching only the very top of the tree. The style of bonsai is to demonstrate its struggle to survive.
Kathy pointed out that the demo tree had too much foliage and it covered the trunk and obstructed the view of the trunk’s movement. She would remove the lower foliage and branches. When cutting the branches, she left only small stubs for jins. She described jins as deadwood and cautioned about making jins too long. When dead branches occur in nature they can be long at first, but eventually in time the deadwood breaks off. So, short jins show age.
She moved quickly to cut off and eliminate the foliage and branches at the top of the tree that were in the opposite flow or direction of the trunk. She wasn’t concerned about selecting a front view until this point where sufficient unwanted foliage and branches were eliminated and the trunk was fully exposed to the viewer. In selecting the front view, Kathy turned the tree around several times to view the complete trunk and its movement. There were some exposed roots at the base of the trunk and Kathy said these roots can be worked on a later time. She was interested in finding a front view where the movement of the trunk was most interesting.
Kathy having decided on the front view of the tree proceeded on wiring the first branch and other major branches. She explained that her wiring was loose so that as the tree grew the wire would not cut into the bark. Wiring too tight would require removing the wire before the branches had time to set in place. She would next have to bend the branches slightly upward at first and then down. Placing movement side to side in the branches gave it more interest. Kathy would make small, slight bends first. She said to massage the branch in order to make it more flexible and less of a chance of breaking under the stress of bending. Kathy cautioned about wire spacing and suggested wiring not in close or tight wraps but rather elongated wraps for better control. Note that some bonsai books suggest wiring in 45-degree wraps around the branch, but this and tighter wraps only acts like a spring. It is better to elongate to 55 to 60-degree wraps.
A major branch cracked during the bending process. Kathy used Parafilm product to wrap the slightly broken branch. Parafilm® M film for lab, floral, produce and nursery applications and Floratape® stem wrap for florists. The Parafilm tape will seal in moisture and help the healing process.
Kathy created some jins on branches removed from the top of the tree and again stated that the jins should be short and not long and dangling deadwood. Jins shouldn’t be rounded off and pointed but rather broken off for the appearance of age.
She cut the terminal tips of the foliage to green up close in to the trunk. This would cause back budding near the interior of the foliage.
The demonstration tree was transformed into a bunjin or literati style bonsai. The movement of the trunk was clearly in view and the foliage was mostly at the top and flowing in the same direction as the trunk.
Kathy said shari or deadwood feature could eventually be carved narrowly along the trunk to give the juniper even more age appearance. She suggested an oval or round bonsai pot for the styled tree. The bunjin or literati styled bonsai should give the viewer the feeling of being off balance and on the verge of tipping over.
A raffle for the demonstration tree was taken and longtime member Ivan Lukrich won the tree.
REBS Club will be hosting a beginners class in May 2018. There are two options to having the beginners class, i.e. two midweek evenings or one weekend day. Locations would be at a senior center or private home of one our club members. Tools, wire and trees will be provided for a small fee. Lead instructor is Ivan Lukrich, a senior club member and long time bonsai instructor.
Details are still TBD. However, we need everyone interested in participating to RSVP at the soonest date. RSVP’s can be made by contacting Ivan directly by phone 707-527-0795 or through email at Lukrich@sonic.net.
The beginners class will cover a brief introduction to bonsai basics, use of tools and creating bonsai. This opportunity comes once a year at REBS. Class size is limited so we will form the class on a first come first served basis.
REBS annual bonsai show is in its 35th year at the Veterans Memorial Building, Santa Rosa, California
On March 27, 2018, at our monthly meeting and demonstration, Michael Murtaugh and Alan Murakami gave an informative and beautiful slideshow of their travels in Japan. They, Michael, Donna Moriki and Alan went to Japan in November 2017 to see the annual Takkanten Bonsai Show in Kyoto. The slideshow lasted about 15 to 20 minutes and included photographs of the bonsai show, famous temples, gardens and other wonderful and historic sites in Japan.
Upon conclusion of the slideshow, Michael conducted a demonstration on the repotting of a urban collected Trident Maple (Acer buergeranum). The Trident Maple was dug up by Michael about two months ago from the home landscape of the late Frank Bardella of Sebastopol, California. Age was unknown. It was grown in the ground for a long period of time due its trunk and height size. Michael had placed the tree into a plastic nursery container which he made by cutting the container in half and inserting the two halves into one. Michael cut holes and slits in the bottom for water drainage. He also used aluminum rivets to secure the two halves together. The tree was easily lifted from its container. A sizable root ball and large roots were apparent. He combed the surface roots, uncovering the nebari and girth of the trunk. There were actually three trunks, two large trunks of unequal diameter and a small trunk which appeared to be dead. Michael cleaned most if not all of the original soil from the root ball. He proceeded to remove downward growing and large protruding roots which were unwanted for a bonsai. Michael received quite a bit of suggestions from the members in attendance on the front view and whether or not to remove a large root growing from the lower trunk. He decided to leave the large root alone for the time being. Once the root ball was cleaned and large roots removed, Michael was ready to fill the container with a drainage layer of Akadama, lava rock and pumice. This layer was larger in size than the other bonsai mix on hand to completely fill up the container. The drainage layer is functional for bonsai in that the larger particles allow for water flow and more oxygen for the root growth. Michael then inserted the root ball into the container and played with various angles of the trunk. Finally, he decided to have the trunk in a formal upright position. Of course, tie down wires were added to the bottom of the container which are so important to securing the root ball in the container. He added more bonsai soil mix. Chris Ross assisted at this point and the two gently poked the bonsai soil mix with chopsticks to remove any air pockets in the soil mix. The next step was for Michael to prune some of the foliage. He carefully removed cross branches, multiple branches, weak and unwanted branches by cutting them away from the trunk. Michael said he wanted to keep a balance of foliage to roots, and so it was important not to remove too much branches and foliage. The repotting only needed water to flush out any fines and give the roots a fair amount of hydration.
The repotted Trident Maple was raffled at the conclusion of the demonstration. Chris Garrett won his first demonstration tree.
The photo depicts a large Trident Maple dug up from the landscape of the later Frank Bardella (“Mr. Maple”).
Here, Michael discusses his repotting plans for the demonstration tree.
The Trident Maple is sized to fit the container.
Chris and Michael share in the delight of winning the demonstration tree.