During the recent Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s 35th Annual Bonsai Show, August 25 and 26, 2018, held at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, Master Bonsai Artist and Club Sensei Kathy Shaner performed two demonstrations – a collected Sierra juniper on Saturday and a Procumbens juniper on Sunday, from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Let’s look more closely at the Sunday’s performance on the Procumbens juniper (also known as Japanese Garden juniper or Common juniper).
The demo tree was a healthy green and full of foliage. There were several primary branches. Kathy first dug into the surface soil to discover the nebari girth (strength of the surface roots and trunk base). She removed some of the length in the foliage to give a better look at the movement of the trunk.
By removing the dense foliage, one could see the strength and interesting movement of the trunk.
Kathy cautioned about removing too much of the foliage in the initial styling. Here the apex appears as a rounded mass of foliage at the top. The primary side branch is left alone for the time being to protect the health of the tree.
After a bit more styling, it is time to raffle the tree. Kathy and Raffle Chair Wayne Culp build on the excitement in selecting the winning raffle ticket.
Club member Jim Scholz was rewarded for buying the raffle tickets by adding the Procumbens juniper to his bonsai collection.
During the recent Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s 35th Annual Bonsai Show, August 25 and 26, 2018, held at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, the San Francisco Suiseki Kai displayed an impressive suiseki (viewing stones) exhibition. Two long rows of viewing stones were on display within the great exhibition hall. The viewing stones were collected from Northern California and Japan. My favorite display was that of a beautiful Japanese Chrysanthemum stone by Hideko Metaxas.
Thursday evening, September 20, 2018 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
In this class, taught by senior club instructors, you will learn practical, hands-on techniques for development, styling, care, and maintenance of bonsai. One tree and wire will be provided and students will have styled and wired a tree at the end of the class.
The cost of $75 includes tree and supplies.
Reservations for the beginners’ workshop are required – limit 12 students.
No refunds for missed class.
Please send your check to Redwood Empire Bonsai Society, PO Box 2872, Santa Rosa, CA 95404-2872, by September 10, 2018. For further information, contact Ivan Lukrich at (707) 527-0795.
Class location: Franklin Park Clubhouse, 2095 Franklin Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95404.
The Enmanji Buddhist Temple in Sebastopol, California, celebrated its 64th annual teriyaki BBQ and bazaar on Sunday, July 8, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with their delicious teriyaki BBQ chicken dinner plate, bonsai display, exhibits, plant sales, handicrafts, and raffle. There were performances on the outdoor stage of taiko drums, martial arts, folk dance and music, flute and guitar music. More than 3,000 chicken dinner plates were purchased by the visitors in attendance and take out crowd. The bonsai display was set up by Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) members Art Kopecky with the help of Wayne Culp, Chris Garret, George Haas, Jim McGlashan, Michael Murtaugh, Janet Price, and Mary Alice Wilson. A variety of bonsai species were on display. REBS brochures and postcards for the 35th Annual Bonsai Show were handed out generously to the visitors. REBS members demonstrated bonsai techniques by working on individual bonsai.
Michael Murtaugh working on pruning and thinning a Chinese elm bonsai.
Our latest meeting and demonstration occurred on June 26, 2018, Tuesday evening, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center, Santa Rosa, California, featuring Bill Castellon. Bill is a landscaper and aesthetic tree pruner by profession, and bonsai artist and instructor as well. He brought with him four Japanese black pine (JBP) trees, one Shohin just recently worked on by cutting the candles and removing some of the old needles, one demonstration Bunjin JBP and two other JBP starter trees. Bill first passed out a couple of articles published by International Bonsai describing Bunjin or Literati bonsai and depicting a number of examples of trees styled in the form of Bunjin (Literati).
What is Bunjin or Literati bonsai? “Bunjin or Literati bonsai is an “approach” or “interpretation” within bonsai and not a specific style in and of itself. It is somewhat difficult to describe.”1
Bill pointed out that his Bunjin JBP demonstration tree has a slim trunk, slow taper, small branches of foliage, and apex. There is a lot of movement in the trunk and shape of the branches. The Bunjin bonsai invokes emotions in the viewer of wind, awkwardness, unbalance, and struggle. The design is a deliberate effort to move away from other bonsai styles, such as the usual JBP triangular style. The Bunjin or Literati bonsai is interesting by itself or displayed with other bonsai styles and accent plants.
Bill would demonstrate work required for the JBP Bunjin bonsai in this region from June 15 through July 1. He cut at the base every candle grown this season. This is done to maintain balance in the needles and keep the needles and internodes small. The trunk is slim and the tree on the small size, and so having small needles appear in proper proportion. Bill described several techniques for cutting and removing the new candles. However, he practices cutting at the base, all in one day, and then removing last year’s needles. This is done only if the tree is strong and healthy. Only seven or eight needle pairs at the top are left alone at the cut candle site. More needles can be left on at the bottom of the tree, which is weaker than the top of the tree. In cooler weather conditions, the candle cutting is done earlier than the above dates. Waiting too long to cut the candles can be hard and stressful for the tree. After about four to six weeks, new candle buds will begin to show. New candle buds will appear in two, three or four at the base or cut site. In the fall (October) a decision must be made to reduce these new candle buds to two. At this time, the older needles are removed.
Bill discussed the type of pot for use with Bunjin or Literati bonsai. The pot should be small and rustic as found in the Nanban styled pots. He believed a deeper pot than the one used with the demonstration tree would be better suited for the JBP tree’s roots. The small pot lends to the appearance and display of Bunjin bonsai. It appears awkward and almost ready to fall over.
After cutting the candles, Bill moved on to wiring the branches of the demonstration tree. He reduced some of the branches and foliage where it appeared too dense or full. Bill said he preferred to use the smaller size branches over the large ones. Some small branches would need to grow stronger for wiring and for taking over in place of the larger branches. But, for now he left some of the larger branches alone. Bill wired the branches and set them in place. He created movement in the wired branches and created an apex branch. When he was finished, the demonstration JBP tree was slim, slow tapered and with plenty of branches. He estimated the age of the demonstration tree at 15 years based on the start of some barking at the base of the trunk.
Bill then moved on to the two other JBP trees in four-inch nursery containers. These trees were being grown from seed for Shohin, bonsai with a maximum height of eight inches. The trees have large new seasonal growth and branches for growing a large trunk base similar to Bill’s Shohin JBP example. He cut some of the large candles but left alone one or two largest candles to be used for growing the trunk base diameter. He suggested placing the two JBP trees in terra cotta pots slightly larger than the plastic four-inch nursery containers and using a bonsai soil mix.
All three JBP demonstration trees were raffled and won by club members – Mike Nelson, Wayne Culp and Paul Wycoff.
1 – Literati or Bunjin Bonsai, by Bonsai Learning Center, February 24, 2016.