As a follow-on to Randall Lee’s great demonstration for creating a Juniper rock planting on September 26, 2017, I wanted to show some photographs of rock plantings by Master Bonsai Artist Masahiko Kimura of Japan. During the 8th World Bonsai Convention, April 27-30, 2017, at Saitama City, Japan, Kimura performed the first of many demonstrations by Master Bonsai Artists. He chose to demonstrate how he creates a Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Shimpaku’) rock planting. Kimura builds a rock formation using Feather Rock (the landscape boulder is a porous, pumice boulder, sharp and coarse, which is much lighter than most stone). He carves out pockets at various locations and heights where he intends to plant trees. The rock formations are usually formed in a stable, upright position. After carving the rock, Kimura pours a liquid motar cement over the entire rock formation which seals it and makes handling the feather rock easier. The motar cement is colored grey to charcoal. After the motar cement is set, the planting of trees can begin. Muck (Sphagnum moss and clay soil mixture) is used to hold and grow the plant roots. Low carpets or mounds of green Moss are finally pinned in against the muck to hold it in place. Sprays of water are used to keep the plants and muck moist during application and after care.
Other rock plantings by Kimura were photographed at his home and bonsai nursery located near Omiya, Japan.
On September 26, 2017, Bonsai Artist and Instructor Randall Lee of Alameda, California, was the guest demonstrator for the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) general meeting and demonstration. Randall chose to demonstrate on how to create a bonsai rock planting.
What I observed first were the preparations Randall undertook for his bonsai rock planting demonstration.
One interesting black lava rock with anchored tie down wires
Several small junipers (Juniperus chinensis procumbens nana)
A variety of companion plants
Plenty of muck (mixed clay and Sphagnum moss)
Sprayer containing water
Various bonsai tools
Randall said various kinds of rocks can be used for rock planting, and that you can usually find suitable rocks at bonsai club shows that offer vendors or at local rock landscape material businesses. For the demonstration, Randall chose a black lava rock that was stable enough to stand up vertically and contained a number pockets and crevices to hold the plants. He particularly liked the rock’s peak or top and the cliff like feature for the front. Prior to the demonstration, Randall anchored tie down wires at a number of locations on the front and back sides. To secure the tie down wires to the rock, he used DryLok Fast Plug, a fast setting hydraulic cement product.
He was ready to layer the muck (a mixture of moist clay and Sphagnum moss). Randall said the Sphagnum moss comes in long strings which he cuts in shorter sections so that it mixes better with the clay soil. He layered the muck to cover the tie down wires and fill the crevices and pockets. Randall cautioned about leaving air pockets, and so he pressed the muck tightly against the rock. He often sprayed the muck with water to keep it moist during its application. Sufficient muck should be made beforehand so that you don’t run out of it in creating your rock planting.
Randall completed the first layer of muck, covering the tie down wires and locations intended for plants. At this point, he placed one of several junipers on the back side near the top of the rock, exposing the branches in the front, like a cascading tree, and some foliage around the rock’s peak. He tried another juniper in the same location, this time there was less cascading of the branches. After getting the opinion of the audience, Randall decided with the latter juniper showing smaller portions of foliage in the front and back sides of the rock. Randall said he had trimmed some of the roots before the demonstration, but that the roots remained long and at different lengths. He checked the position of the juniper a couple of times to ensure it was as he intended it to be, and then he used the tie down wires to secure the juniper to the rock. He pressed tightly a second layer of muck around the roots. He pushed the muck into place to cover the roots and ensure there were no air pockets. Randall added a second juniper and a few companion plants in the same manner.
Randall explained that high mountain plants were placed towards the top of the rock, whereas lower mountain plants were located near the middle to low parts of the rock. Companion plants were added in the same manner.
Once the above was complete, Randall covered all the muck with moss he collected for the demonstration. In the vertical locations on the rock, he used wire staples made from aluminum wire to insert into the moss to hold the moss in place. After a good spraying of water over the moss and plants, Randall’s juniper rock planting was complete.
A raffle was held and member Suzanne Waxman won the juniper rock planting.
For reference, rock plantings by Master Noboru Kaneko are covered in the book “Junipers, Bonsai Today Masters’ Series, Growing & Styling Juniper Bonsai” 2007 by Stone Lantern Publishing, pg. 137.
Club Sensei Kathy Shaner performed a varied demonstration involving preparations for the upcoming 34th Annual Bonsai Show on August 26 and 27, 2017, and hands-on developing of two species, one being an oak and the other being two trident maples.
Preparations of show bonsai was more a discussion conducted by Kathy and show chair Bob Shimon. Some key steps to take to prepare your bonsai for the show included the most critical one of watering the bonsai a couple of days before bringing the bonsai in to the show venue. The bonsai will be indoors on display from set up on Friday, August 25 through the end of the day on Sunday, August 27. Volunteers will water periodically during the show. However, adequate hydration beforehand will keep the bonsai under minimal stress. Since the show is indoors, it is customary to top dress the soil of your bonsai with moss or a top dressing of very small sieved or screened particles of lava (black, red, brown) rock and Akadama. Avoid white pumice in the mix. This step will make for a clean appearance. When applying moss, try for a smooth and level look, and avoid the appearance of mounds and valleys. Oil the pots (walnut oil) lightly and wipe it dry so that the oil does not mark the paper covered display tables. Clean and wax your bonsai stands or slabs in a similar manner. Take time to look over the bonsai and remove any debris such as dead leaves, branches, spider webs, etc.
Kathy proceeded to work on an oak bonsai. The bonsai was wired in February of this year and it was time to remove the wire. After removing all the copper wire from the oak, she began to look at the tree design. She wanted to style the oak as a semi cascade or slanting tree. The trunk was large and very interesting, but the tree foliage and trunk appeared to like movement in a slanting style. The pot was shallow and not suitable for a slanting tree. Repotting the bonsai would be best done in January of next year. In the meantime, Kathy chose to prop up one side of the tree and root system using chopsticks and adding more soil mix. The slanting position was ideal. Kathy discussed the oak bonsai would require adequate water and full sun. It would be a small to medium size bonsai. She also discussed the fact that a shallow pot holds more water than a deeper pot. If overwatering becomes a problem, you can always prop up one side of a shallow pot to help in drainage. The oak bonsai was potted three years ago. Kathy said a bonsai style should have a story behind it to explain why it was slanting. In this case, the oak bonsai could have been growing near a stream or on the side of a hill. She applied some copper wire to the oak bonsai, lowering some of the branches in a slanting movement. She also removed unwanted branches, but not many. Kathy recommended a round or half-moon pot, but no square pot. In wiring the oak, Kathy demonstrated soft wiring by using her thumb or two fingers to guide the wire wrapped around the branches. This wire can remain in place for some time before cutting in to the bark.
Kathy then switched to working on the two trident maples. She showed how to achieve over time short internodes on the maples by removing the central new forming leaves as soon as they appear and allowing two new buds to form as leaves. This new leaf removal is repeated throughout the growing season in order to form branches with very short internodes. The first trident maple was a single trunk, tall and graceful with its foliage mostly on top, but also lower in the trunk. Kathy cut the top of the trunk off the tree. She ensured the cut was only slightly angled, clean, and flat. There were three buds near the cut to be protected from any damage. She then wrapped and sealed the cut, including the three buds, with parafilm. (Parafilm M Roll, 125’ Length x 4” Width by Parafilm, available through Amazon or medical suppliers.) Kathy said the parafilm will keep moisture in place of the wound, help its healing and help the three buds grow. The buds will pop through the thin parafilm. Over time the parafilm will deteriorate and come off.
Kathy moved on to the two-trunk trident maple. She used a wine cork to slightly separate the two trunks at their bases. She then soft wired the smaller of the two trunks and applied some movement to the trunk. Again, she pointed out that the work went into developing short internodes. She demonstrated that as the weather changes in to the fall season and leaves turn color, it is a good time to remove the leaf leaving the petiole in place. The petiole contains sugars that will feed the root system even after the leaf is removed.
A raffle was held at the conclusion of the Kathy’s demonstration. The winner of the raffle had a choice of between the oak bonsai or one of the trident maples. Mike Nelson won the raffle and chose the oak bonsai as his prize, adding a fine bonsai to his personal collection.
On June 27, 2017, Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) held its monthly meeting at the Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, Santa Rosa, California, with guest bonsai artist, instructor and author Jonas Dupuich, who led a demonstration and discussion on the decandling of pines.
Decandling was defined as the technique for the removal of spring growth (candles) from pines in order to stimulate a second push of growth in the summer months.
The time period for decandling pines is in the middle of the growing season and dependent upon the weather and environmental conditions. For example, in the State of Washington decandling will take place in early spring (May, June), and in the State of Texas it would take place later in mid-summer (late June, July). In the San Francisco/Bay Area, decandling usually is done in early June and July. Timing relates to the amount of growing season remaining after decandling to help the second push of new growth.
Jonas discussed the purpose of decandling pines as follows:
On May 23, 2017, Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) held its monthly meeting at the Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, Santa Rosa, California, featuring members John Roehl, Ned Lycett and Ivan Lukrich on the subject of Olive (Olea europea) bonsai.
Specific Bonsai care guidelines for the Olive
Position: Place the Olive bonsai outside and at a sunny spot, this also helps to reduce the size of the leaves. Must be protected during the winter if temperatures get too low.
Watering: No specifics.
Feeding: Feed abundant, with a normal fertilizer monthly from spring to mid-autumn.
Pruning: Strong pruning is recommended in late winter. The olive will respond with vigorous growth in the following spring. For maintenance pruning, cut back to 2-3 pairs of leaves, and in very vigorous (and healthy) specimens you can use defoliation.
Repotting: Repot in spring before the buds begin to swell, every three or four years. Preferably use a bonsai mix with good drainage.
The olive is commonly found in Mediterranean countries, where it is a tree with strong symbolic importance. You can use cultivated varieties for bonsai (like the common olive) but it is often to use the wild olive (Olea europea silvestrys).
The wild olive is of greater interest for Bonsai as these develop tiny leaves. In many cases these possess much appreciated features like the presence of jin, shari and bark that indicate a high age and survival in hostile conditions. The Olive as bonsai is easy to care for and very strong so it is a suitable choice.
A medium sized Mediterranean tree which has been cultivated by men for thousands of years. Its trunks thicken very slowly, but the trees can become very old. The leaves are lanceolate Continue reading Demonstration on Olive Bonsai