March 2019 Newsletter
The 2018-2020 Officers of Richmond Bonsai Society!
President Randi Heise
Vice President BettyLou Lages
Secretary Wendy Peckham
Treasurer Dave Barker
Board Member at Large:
Past-President Thomas Sones
Regular Meetings, unless otherwise noted, are held the 4th Monday of every month at 7 pm in the Community Room at St. Mary’s Woods, 1257 Marywood Ln., Richmond VA, 23229.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.richmondbonsaisociety.org or on Facebook.
Bonsai information, common questions and answers, monthly growing advice, and bonsai links can be found on our website.
RBS 2018 dues are $25 per person or $30 per family, which includes PBA membership. Membership and registration for workshops and other events can now be made via our webpage.
In this issue…
President’s Message by Randi Heise
It’s officially Spring!! Since your bonsai have successfully survived the winter due to your care and dedication, it’s time for you to prepare your bonsai for spring. The most important thing you need to remember… is to be patient! You will need to check your trees more often to ensure that they are kept watered as they push leaves and new growth. On the other hand, you will also need to check that your trees to verify that they do not stay saturated. Poor drainage leads to root rot. You need to assess your trees and take measures to ensure that the water is draining from your pots . The forecast indicates that we will be having more rain. Check your trees and if the soil is not draining freely then temporarily tilt the pot to the side. Raising one end of the pot a 1/2 inch or more will aid in its drainage.
If the bonsai are in a cold frame consider opening one end on warm days so that the heat does not build up in the cold frame. Opening one end helps to avoid the formation of “hot spots” and prevents premature leafing out of deciduous trees. As noted earlier, remember to be patient. Temperatures may still be fluctuating a good deal from night to day – 70 degree days and 30 degree nights. Fortunately the freezing temperatures typically do not last long, perhaps an hour or two just before sunrise. Ideally you may want to take the trees out of protected storage during the day and move them back in at night. I’ve looked ahead at the 30-day forecast for my zip code, and there is not a forecasted severe drop in temperatures – but – I did the same last year and the Polar Vortex event occurred in early April…and was not forecasted. As Spring advances, remember to be patient and know that Mother Nature can be very fickle.
Calendar of Bonsai Events:
Richmond Bonsai Society Events
March 25: Ongoing Bonsai Basics Class
March 25: Regular March Meeting: Trident Maples
April 29*: Ongoing Bonsai Basics Class
April 29*: Regular April Meeting: TBD
May 3-5 Potomac Bonsai Association Spring Symposium
May 19 Annual Picnic and Auction
- Please note the change from the 4th to the 5th Monday for the April meetings only
The National Bonsai Foundation hosts regular events at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in Washington, DC. Check out their events at https://www.bonsai-nbf.org/events.
2019 RBS Membership Dues Are Due
2019 RBS annual dues payments are now being accepted! The 2019 dues are $25 for an individual and $30 for a family. New members who joined after the Fall Show or Maymont Garden Glow exhibit are automatically extended 2019 membership.
RBS dues include PBA Membership and also go toward expenses for the club including costs of outside speakers at club meetings, demonstration and some workshop materials, facility for the May picnic and auction, insurance, website costs, etc. Membership allows you to attend all meetings, join classes, join workshops, sell items at the May auction, and participate in all club trips. You can pay by cash or check at the February meeting. I will be set up at the side of the room in February to take your money after the meeting. If you prefer, you can pay now on our website or send your check to the following address: Dave Barker, Richmond Bonsai Society, 1960 Bantry Drive, Midlothian, Virginia 23114.
Don’t miss out on the learning opportunities and the fun, renew your membership.
Dave Barker, RBS treasurer
RBS Board Position Needs To Be Filled
As many of you know, there have been some changes to our Board of Directors since the election last year. Dave Barker was appointed to fill the remaining term of the Treasurer leaving the Board Member At Large position available. If you are interested in stepping in to fill the remainder of this term (until May 2020), please speak to Randi.
Recent Activity Reports
Great Fun at the Beginner Workshop on March 18
RBS members assisted 30 new bonsai practitioners at our Beginner’s Workshop at the Great Big Green House. After greetings from RBS President Randi Heise, Jack Frye led the workshop with basic instructions. Then participants styled and repotted juniper precombums into new pots and bonsia soil. After some tips and instructions, participants took home their new trees. One participant comments that it was fun to see that everyone’s tree was different!
We hope everyone’s trees make it and we see them again soon at one of our meetings. If participants have any questions or need further help, we hope that they will not hesitate to contact us.
February Meeting On Trunk Fusion
Thomas gave an intriguing lecture and led discussions on growing fusions trunks. We hope that everyone will try their hand at some fusion trunks this year so that we can follow up on our experiments next year. If you are interested in purchasing some trident maple seedlings for a fusion project, Thomas still has some 1 year olds to sell at a reasonable price.
Upcoming Event Details
RBS Meeting Location Details
Montly meetings, unless otherwise noted, are held in the community room of St. Mary’s Woods Retirement Center. Please be careful to turn from Gaskins onto the correct road, and not into the apartment complex parking. Additionally, GPS or map services may take you to the Marywood Apartments, and not to the Retirement Home, so proceed straight trough the cul-de-sac and around the curve to the very end to get to the Retirement Center. We typically meet in the Community Room. Enter from main entrance or via side walk between the main entrance and Community Room area. Sometimes, we also meet in the activity room on the opposite side, which actually has it’s own door.
Ongoing Bonsai Basics Class Continues March 25, 6:15 pm – 7:00 pm
RBS continues the 2nd month of our Bonsai Basics class. For those that want to expand their bonsai skills or refresh their skills, this is the class for you. The class will be taught by Dave Barker and will be comprised of three monthly sessions covering the basics of styling a tree, cleaning a tree, use of bonsai tools, pruning, wiring, soil, pots, repotting, and bonsai horticulture.
The class will be in the Community Room of St. Mary’s Woods (pic below) prior to our regular monthly meetings. It will run 40 minutes, from 6:15 to 6:55, composed of 20 minutes of lecture/discussion and 20 minutes of practical application – working on your tree. The first session will expose the nebari, find the front of the tree, and do basic cleaning of the tree. The second session will involve pruning the tree to shape and style, and wiring the trunk and main branches in place. In the third session, the tree will be root pruned, wired securely in a pot and finished. In addition, basic care to keep the bonsai healthy and growing will be discussed.
RBS is also planning a summer class in June, July, and August as well using a tropical tree (ficus or serissa). More information on the summer bonsai basics class will be in a future newsletter.
Regular March Meeting: Trident Maple Bonsai. March 25th, 7 pm
Our Regular March Meeting will be held in the community room at St. Mary’s Woods. Randi and Jack will present the second part of “How to Quickly Develop Large Trunks” on your Trident Maple (Acer buergerianum) bonsai. Last month you learned how to develop large trunks using the fused trunk method of development. On Monday night, Randi and Jack will be presenting an alternative techniques for Trident Maple bonsai development. The demonstration will include how to prune for ramification (finer branching) by developing branches that are pruned to encourage a 2 to 2 to 2 growth pattern, thread grafting for branch placement, thread grafting for root placement, planting in ground over tile for root development and trunk chopping for trunk taper. They will use a live specimen. If you have a Trident Maple bring them if you would like advice or just want to show off .
Shimpaku Juniper Workshop
RBS is planning to conduct a Shimpaku juniper workshop in the Spring. These junipers have interesting trunks and lots of styling decisions with numerous jin possibilities. The foliage is very tight and full. While a date and place for the workshop has not been set, there will be a sign-up sheet at the February meeting for those who are interested and did not sign up at the January meeting. The cost is a very reasonable $30 for the workshop to cover the cost of the tree you will be styling and taking home.
Article: Moss for Bonsai
“Bonsai Moss”: A seemingly innocuous, logical term, but in fact, it doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as ‘bonsai moss”. Moss grows on some plants naturally, and in some cases, is planted on our trees for a variety of reasons. Moss is a primitive plant, of which there are hundreds of species. They are also known as bryophytes, and are the link between stem-less, rootless plants and plants with distinct roots and leaves. Mosses have stems and leaves that are relatively simple in design. They don’t have roots as in higher order species, but possess root-like filaments called rhizoids – which anchor the plant on a surface. Mosses, depending on species, can live on dirt, on living plants, and even on rock. Mosses absorb water throughout their entire structure, but can become desiccated, losing all of their moisture and turning brown and dormant. Addition of moisture will reverse this process and turn it green again.
Any moss that is gathered outdoors is a temperate climate plant, needing all four seasons, and will go dormant or not survive winters indoors. Native mosses are best grown either outdoors or, if grown indoors, in a place where the night temperature gets between 30-50F from late fall to early spring.ome plants naturally, and in some cases, is planted on our trees for a variety of reasons. Moss is a primitive plant, of which there are hundreds of species. They are also known as bryophytes, and are the link between stem-less, rootless plants and plants with distinct roots and leaves. Mosses have stems and leaves that are relatively simple in design. They don’t have roots as in higher order species, but possess root-like filaments called rhizoids – which anchor the plant on a surface. Mosses, depending on species, can live on dirt, on living plants, and even on rock. Mosses absorb water throughout their entire structure, but can become desiccated, losing all of their moisture and turning brown and dormant. Addition of moisture will reverse this process and turn it green again.
The easiest way to grow moss on your trees is to place them somewhere moss grows naturally. If that doesn’t work, did some up and plant directly over the bonsai soil. Moisten it well before doffing and after planting. Moss needs only 1/4 – 1/2″ of original soil under it to transplant successfully around your bonsai.Once established, moss grows and expands on bonsai dirt and trunks.
Moss needs water to reproduce and to allow fertilization through egg cells. Fertilized eggs (called zygotes) produce sporophytes, which eventually germinate the green, branched filaments that we commonly observe. Moss fragments can also propagate, and continue spreading on plants. Moss can grow year-round, and needs moisture and shade to expand; spring and autumn are the best periods for growth of moss. An acidic 5.5 pH and dampness is optimum for moss growth. This description of moss structure and reproduction is more than most of us want to know (not being biologists), but it is helpful to know how it spreads and lives.
Now that we have moss on our bonsai, do we want to keep it there? Buildup of moss on exposed roots and trunks effectively traps moisture and can lead to rot. Moss can also harbor insects and other undesirables, so some choose to remove moss from our trees. While many bonsai enthusiasts add moss around the trees for moisture control, most do so solely for aesthetic effect. The critical element in this equation is control – a little bit can be good, but too much may be harmful to the tree. A covering of moss is reminiscent of serene, simple (even bare) Japanese gardens and of the Zen Buddhism concepts of beauty and peace.
Sphagnum moss often is added to the soil surface or in the soil to retain water and to protect a weak root system. Sphagnum moss holds a large amount of water – up to 8X its weight – in the margin of its leaves, which also explains why it is the principal constituent of peat bogs. A warning about sphagnum – it is the source of a rare, chronic fungal skin disease in humans called sporotrichosis, which enters the skin through cuts and scratches and affects the lymph nodes. This disease is uncommon but can cause serious problems (supposedly even death) if contracted; this disease can also be contracted from other kinds of plants as well.
Whether you like its aesthetics with bonsai, or regard it as an unwanted parasite, moss is a common, interesting material of which we should be aware. A little knowledge about it is always useful.
Other Announcements and information
Donate a Book or Magazine: RBS maintains a lending library available to members. The lending selection includes many magazines, books, and some videos. If you have books or magazines that you no longer enjoy, please donate them to the club.
Mixed Bonsai Soil -regular and shohin soil (fine) 5 gal bags. Call Lee (804-869-1257) to place a special order.
Notice: RBS mails printed newsletters upon request. We encourage members to update their member records and switch to electronic versions of the newsletter when possible. If you receive a printed version, but would prefer electronic, please inform the club secretary or reply to this mailing.