Demonstration by Jay McDonald

Procumbens Nana Juniper Demonstration by Jay McDonald

On January 22, 2019, Jay McDonald was the guest demonstrator for the monthly REBS meeting. Jay has been interested in bonsai for almost 20 years. He studied under the Sensei Kathy Shaner and various other bonsai masters. Jay’s personal collection of bonsai is remarkable at about 25 bonsai. He brought for show and tell several of his mature bonsai, Ume, Olive and Japanese Larch (see images).

Jay’s demonstration tree was a Procumbens nana juniper, about 30 years old. The juniper was purchased from Bob Shimon of Mendocino Coast Bonsai. The juniper was grown in southern California for bonsai and displayed a lot movement in the trunk. Jay worked on the tree before bringing it to the demonstration. He cleaned up the foliage and removed any large branches that were no in proportion to the tree and trunk. He also did some pre-wiring of the demonstration tree.

Jay emphasized proportion of branches to diameter of the trunk and other branches. You can’t have larger branches near the top with smaller branches below them. The larger branches would be out of proportion and need to be removed by cutting them off or by cutting them short and making jins (deadwood) out of them. 

Deadwood on junipers is essential. Jay pointed out some branches he stripped the bark off of and made in to jins. In order to create age and interesting characteristics in junipers, Jay said deadwood features are important.

Wiring the whole tree. Jay said bonsai is wiring. Wiring the whole tree is also important to creating bonsai with age and movement of the branches. Jay made it clear that he desired the wiring of the whole tree, including the small twig like branches. Wiring is controlling the movement and flow of bonsai design. He highlighted the purpose of wiring as creating movement, taper and interest.

Fertilizer. Jay believes in fertilizing his bonsai and starting early around the end of January. He has used an assortment of fertilizer, including organic and chemical. He will used Miracle Gro on his bonsai to give them a boost in growth when trying to build his bonsai. He then will use organic fertilizer when his bonsai are more mature and slower growth is desirable.

In finishing the demonstration bonsai, Jay applied a generous amount of moss to the top soil. Jay said moss is the proper manner in which to display bonsai. The moss can be removed when not displaying the bonsai.

Upon completion of demonstration, a raffle of the Procumbens nana juniper was held and club member Paul Wycoff won the bonsai.

Demo Bonsai – Procumbens nana juniper

Demonstration by Ivan Lukrich

Demonstration by Ivan Lukrich

On November 27, 2018, REBS held their regular meeting and demonstration. Club Sensei Kathy Shaner was scheduled to be the demonstrator; however, Kathy’s plane was delayed in Alabama due to bad weather. Ivan Lukrich at the last moment filled in for Kathy with a demonstration on three Japanese maples (Acer palmatum).

Ivan described the three Japanese maples as grown from seed from the same parent tree, approximately 10 to 12 years old. All three J. maples were planted in a large, plastic nursery container. The leaves were displaying wonderful fall colors. Ivan started the demo by removing all the leaves. He said pruning the J. maples would take place after the leaves drop off or before new bud growth occurs. Bleeding can occur during pruning at times.

Ivan pruned the unwanted branches and deadwood first. He discussed branch development and internodes. It is most desirable to have short internodes for bonsai. Pruning will help in dividing branches for ramification and short internodes. Ivan used cut paste to seal the wounds on the cut branches.

Ivan led a discussion of pinching new growth. Pinching the new leaf growth is necessary to maintain a tight ramification of the branches. Pinching is constant during the growing season for J. maples. After the first leaf pair has unfolded, remove the soft little tip of the shoot between them.

J. maples enjoy full sun. However, summer heat can burn the leaves and so afternoon shade or shade cloth is necessary.

Joanne Lumsden purchased the winning raffle ticket for the demo J. maples.

Demonstration by Ivan Lukrich

On October 23, 2018, our club enjoyed an outstanding demonstration by Ivan Lukrich for styling a Hornbeam (Carpinus). Ivan is a senior club bonsai instructor. There are 30–40 species occurring across much of the temperate of the Northern Hemisphere.
The demonstration tree was won by the club in a past “Ironman” competition between the Marin Bonsai Club and REBS a number of years ago. Ivan has been caring for the tree ever since.
The demonstration Hornbeam tree was not showing much fall colors, but the leaves were in the process of drying out and falling off. Ivan proceeded with removing a majority of the leaves to show more of the movement in the trunk and branches. The demonstration tree was in an informal upright style with nice movement of the trunk and slight tapering.
There were several branches removed earlier and wounds required some follow-on treatment to heal over. This required scrapping the sides of the wound with a knife to expose some of the green cambium and sealing with a cut paste.
Ivan said the previous wiring and work on primary branches were complete. And so, he would be wiring the branch tips at this point. Ivan used copper wire on the demonstration tree because he is most comfortable using copper wire on his bonsai. The copper wire has more strength and holding power with smaller gauges than aluminum wire.
Upon completion of the demonstration, a raffle was held and club member Diane Matzen won the Hornbeam bonsai.

Hornbeam demo tree before styling

Club members look on as Ivan Lukrich removes leaves

Ivan thinning out small unwanted branches and stems

Wiring the stem tips and shaping

Setting up the wired branch stems

Ivan discusses after care of the demonstration bonsai

Diane Matzen and Ivan pose with the finished demonstration bonsai

Hornbeam demonstration bonsai after view



Demonstration by Jonas Dupuich – Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

On September 25, 2018, between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center, Santa Rosa, California, Jonas Dupuich conducted a demonstration on Satsuki Azalea bonsai imported from Japan. Jonas is a professional bonsai grower, artist, instructor, and vendor. He has been growing azaleas for about 20 years.

Imported Satsuki Azalea bonsai

Satsuki Azalea (Rhododendron indicum) is native to Japan. Satsuki is a Japanese term that refers to the bloom period, May or early June. There are thousands of different varieties. Satsuki azaleas are popular bonsai plants for many reasons. It can take a hard pruning, the flowers are amazing, and they can be developed fast. Since azaleas prefer to be slightly acidic, a popular soil to grow them in is Kanuma.

Jonas brought with him a number of Satsuki Azalea bonsai for showing different varieties, leaf sizes and shapes, and styles. He mentioned that Satsuki Azalea can be styled in numerous ways. He chose as his demonstration bonsai a cascading Satsuki Azalea with multiple trunks, at least four primary trunks. In choosing the front view, Jonas preferred in bonsai to show the trunks. However, since it was Satsuki Azalea it would be better to show off the most flowers.






He started to cut and thin out the leaves and tiny branches on the demonstration bonsai. He said general guidelines for cutting and thinning applied here. Cutting the tips, lower leaves leaving two leaves per branch or stem, removing vertical and downward growing branches and stems. Jonas said when cutting branches he will leave a small stub or convex cut. After cutting branches, he would seal the wound with a cut paste and wound seal. (Top Jin Cut Paste and Wound Seal, yellow in color, stops bleeding and helps to protect from fungal infection). Sometimes branches are found to be in clusters of three or more. These should be cut back to two branches.

Jonas said he uses 100% Kanuma for soil. Repotting should take place when watering appears to slow in draining, a sign that the Kanuma has been compacted and roots have filled the pot. Jonas mentioned the function of watering bonsai plants. Watering pushes out any old residues and pulls in oxygen vital to the health of the plant.

Some things to avoid with Satsuki Azalea bonsai are wind, salt and cold. An environment close to the coast would be challenging for growing Satsuki Azaleas.

Popular times to wire Satsuki Azaleas is after the bloom and in the summer. Besides wiring, the clip and grow method can be useful.

Jonas led an interesting discussion on how commercial growers produce Satsuki Azalea bonsai in Japan. There are various levels of growers for each phase of developing the Satsuki Azalea bonsai. One level may grow whips, another for wiring and creating movement in the whips, other levels to transfer to and from the ground for growing large trunks.

Jonas uses 30% shade cloth when the temperatures are 75 degrees in Alameda and recommended 40% shade cloth when temperatures reach 85 degrees elsewhere.

In discussing wiring Satsuki Azalea bonsai, Jonas said he looks for beauty and function. The discussion led to the degrees in the angle of wiring. Where 45 degrees was the standard for wrapping wire around branches, the trend today is somewhere between 55 and 60 degrees. Again, the most important factors are beauty and function of the wiring.

Fungus is a problem. It can be root or leaf fungus. Root fungus can first show up by having black leaf tips.

Large branch bending – it is not really possible to bend large branches with wire wrapping. Instead, use guy wires to lower or raise large branches.

Finally, removing the flowers after bloom will send energy to the leaves.
Jonas worked on the demonstration tree during the discussions above. He removed unwanted weak branches, cut and thinned out the leaves, wrapped wire on small branches to lower and show movement, and used guy wires to lower the larger branches. The result was a well shaped cascading Satsuki Azalea bonsai.






A raffle was conducted for the demonstration bonsai and Jim Gallagher was holding the winning ticket.