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.