May 2019 Newsletter

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May 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  or visit us at 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 hard to believe it’s already May.   Typically, repotting of trees would have been long since completed and I would be focused with feeding trees and starting to reduce candles.   However, this is not a typical year.  With large amounts of rain, and life throwing me a few curves, repotting was put on hold as was any major tree work until recently. 

The optimal time to repot is when the “root tips are pushing and leaf buds are extending.”  But what impact does potting at a less than optimal time have on the tree?  Having recently repotted 23 trees, or rather 5 trees and 18 5 year old saplings, on a cool and drizzly day last week, I am happy to report the trees never missed a “serious” beat. 

This only goes to prove that with monitored after-care and carefully managed repotting, trees are able to be successfully repotted beyond the optimal time period of “roots beginning to be active and buds just starting to break.”

First the trees had little or no work performed on their roots.  They all had a complete change of soil, change of pot, and change of orientation in the pot.  Three of the trees were junipers, one was a Scots Pine, covered in expanding candles; and 18 Japanese Beech 5 year old saplings, in the process of extending shoots and 90% in full leaf.   

 After repotting, all trees were placed in their previous locations on the bench – with the exception of the Beeches.  None were protected from the sun or wind.  Remember, the roots were not trimmed and the trees vascular system was not injured.  The Beeches were placed on landscape fabric next to the bonsai benches.   

 None of the trees suffered any visible setbacks.  There was limited wilting of less than 5% of Beech leaves on several saplings.  No wilting of candles was noted during the 48-hour period after repotting.  The repotting served as a reminder that there are no absolute repotting rules in bonsai.


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Calendar of Bonsai Events:

Richmond Bonsai Society Events

May 11               World Bonsai Day Celebration, National Arboretum

May 14               Workshop with Mauro Stenberger
May 19              Annual Picnic and Auction
May 27              NO REGULAR RBS MEETING
June 24             Regular RBS Meeting

Other Organizations

May 25 – June 2   Bonsai Bling: Azalea Bonsai in Bloom
May 24-26          Brussel’s Bonsai Rendezvous
June 6                  PVSG Meeting
June 8                  NVBS Meeting at National Arboretum
July 13                  NVBS Meeting
July 21                  PVSG Meeting

The National Bonsai Foundation hosts regular events at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in Washington, DC. Check out their events at

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Recent Activity Reports

RBS Collecting Trip

The collecting trip arranged by Vinnie Charity at the Grayhaven Winery property was a fun trip.

Seven club members met at the winery and were escorted around the property by Robin until they found some trees for collecting. There were hornbeams and beeches of all sizes, from small ones for a forest planting to large ones that were limited by the ability to haul them back to the car. Everyone was prepared for collecting, wearing boots and bringing shovels, hand saws, hatchets, loppers, and bags to put trees in. Ellen gets the award for the bravest collector, hobbling around on an injured foot in the muddy terrain. Thomas was the most prolific harvester, and probably scored the best tree in a clump-style beech (seen below). Vinnie, Doug, Susan, and Mary Lou were very meticulous with the roots; so we will l have to see if it pays off and their trees survive the collecting process. In addition to lots of smaller items, below are two of the larger ones that we collected.

March Meeting

The March meeting was headed by Jack Fyre and Randi Heise, discussing Trident maples. Trident maples are easy to grow as bonsai here in Virginia. Randi brought in a large trident maple that she had been growing in her yard for 8 years. She trimmed it back and put into an Anderson flat at the meeting. While she was working on the large Trident, Jack showed how to cut back a trident maple to get a large trunk in a short time (short in bonsai time – 5 or 6 years). He also showed the technique called “air layering,” that can be used to convert a branch on a very large tree to a new tree to be made into a future bonsai, or to take an unwanted large branch on a bonsai and make it into a new small tree. The technique can be used on most trees, but is easiest on fast growing deciduous trees like the Trident maple.

April Meeting with Bob Mahler 

Bob arrived with hemlocks! Bob demonstrated styling a Eastern Canadian Hemlock ‘Weeper’, giving us good information on how to find the movement to determine the trunk line and how to wire straight branches to effective shorten the branches and bring them close to the trunk.  What started out as a big tree, was turned into a much smaller, but attractive bonsai.  Bob cut off about 70% of the foliage to get to the branches he liked, but was not worried about the health of the tree as hemlocks are very vigorous (note: that is more than most species can handle). We also discussed how to compensate for the hemlock’s particularly brittle structure when wiring.  The resulting tree will be auctioned off at the May picnic/auction. Bob also provided extensive information about pest control and fertilizing as he was busy with the extensive wiring.

Upcoming Event Details

World Bonsai Day, National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, May 11, 2019

The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum is pleased to participate in the 9th Annual World Bonsai Day, created by the World Bonsai Friendship Federation (WBFF). This event honors the memory of Mr. Saburo Kato, a bonsai master and founder of WBFF, who believed that bonsai has the power to unite people by acting as a bridge to international friendship and peace. Come and enjoy the museum, as well as a presentation and a bonsai demonstration by special guest Michael Hagedorn (see below for the schedule, or click here to view the NBF event page.)

NVBS Workshop with Bob Mahler Saturday, May 11, from 12:30-5:30

Registration for this workshop is now open to all PBA members. Space is limited so sign up now.  $50 ($51.80 for electronic payments). Bring your own trees. PBA members who plan to participate are welcome to join NVBS for their regular meeting with Bob Mahler, same date and location, starting at 9 a.m. Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, 8336 Carrleigh Parkway in Springfield, VA.You may register online with this link, provided just for PBA member registration: .YOU MUST USE THIS LINK TO REGISTER WITHOUT NVBS MEMBERSHIP.

If you prefer not register online, you may email Jack Rubenstein at and pay directly to our PayPal account: or send payment by mail to NVBS, P.O. Box 2031, Springfield VA 22152. As a policy, your space is not reserved until payment is received, so please act quickly. NVBS plans to open each of its workshops to PBA members two weeks prior to the workshop if spaces are available. For a full list of 2019 NVBS workshops go to the 2019 Programming Page.

Workshop With Mauro Stemberger, May 14th from 9 am – 4 pm

There will be a special workshop for intermediate  and advanced skilled members with Italian bonsai master, Mauro Stemberger at Strange’s nursery in Short Pump.  It is a bring-your-own-tree(s) workshop and the cost is $125.  There is one opening available, contact Randi Heise  if interested.  All members are welcome as silent observers.

RBS Picnic and Auction, May 19, 3 PM, BYRD PARK 

This event is a great way to find bonsai plants, pots, tools, and other supplies for a great price. RBS will supply the main dish (fried chicken), ice, drinks, paper goods, and utensils. Members should bring a side dish or dessert to share. The picnic and auction will be held at the BYRD PARK Carillon Shelter. Please note, this event will serve as our regular meeting for the month of May. There will be no meeting on May 27.

You must be a current RBS or PBA member to sell or bid on items at the auction (but you can join that day). Auction items should arrive from 2-3 pm, we’ll eat at 3 pm, and the auction will begin about 3:30.  A minimum 20% from each sale is donated automatically to the club, but you keep the rest of the sales. Typically, members bring 3-5 items each to sell. If you have more than that, consider grouping them into lots.

The Carillon Shelter is near Barker Field and the Toll Booth. The closest searchable address is for the Carillon, (1300 Blanton Ave, Richmond, VA 23221) which is nearby. Enter teh Carrilon Parking from Park Dr. and go south through the entire Carrilon Parking area to the end. There is a Carillon Shelter sign at the edge of the parking to mark the “road” to the shelter. There is parking near the shelter. There is another shelter closer to Maymont’s Nature Center, so do not get them confused. Watch for “RBS” signs marking the path to the shelter.

Summer Bonsai Basics Class

RBS is offering a Bonsai Basics class to members using Serissa (snow rose) in Summer 2019 for those that want to expand their bonsai skills. 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 run 55 minutes, from 6:00 to 6:55, composed of 20 minutes of lecture/discussion and 35 minutes of practical application – working on your tree. The June session will expose the nebari, find the front of the tree, do basic cleaning of the tree, and pruning the tree to shape and style. The July session will be wiring the trunk and main branches in place. In the August 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.

The cost of the basics class is for materials: $35 for a tree, pot, and scissors; $10 for scissors only; and free to members supplying their own tropical plant and scissors. Wire, pot, and bonsai soil will be provided. The class is limited to 12 members.

Also, we learned in the first class this spring that we need assistance from experienced members in the last 30 minutes. So let Dave know if you are willing to help give class members some individual attention with their trees for 15-20 minutes before the club meeting begins.

Sign-up for the class will begin at the April 29th meeting, continue through the May picnic/auction, and until the class is full.

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Article: Lime Sulfer 

In horticulture, lime sulfur is a mixture of calcium polysulfides formed by reacting calcium hydroxide with sulfur, used in pest control. It can be prepared by boiling calcium hydroxide and sulfur together with a small amount of surfactant. It is normally used as an aqueous solution, which is reddish-yellow in color and has a distinctive offensive odor. Lime sulfur is sold as a spray for deciduous trees to control fungi, bacteria and insects living or dormant on the surface of the bark. Lime sulfur burns leaves so it is not as useful for evergreen plants.

Bonsai enthusiasts use undiluted lime sulfur to bleach, sterilize, and preserve deadwood on bonsai trees while giving an aged look. Rather than spraying the entire tree, as with the pesticide usage, lime sulfur is painted directly onto the exposed deadwood, and is often colored with a small amount of dark paint to make it look more natural. Without paint pigments, the lime-sulfur solution bleaches wood to a bone-white color that takes time to weather and become natural-looking. Because the lime sulfur does not contact the leaves or needles, this technique can be used on evergreen trees as well as other types of trees.

Applying lime sulfur is simple. Lightly dampen the woods surface with a mist spray of water and then apply sparingly with a brush. Once finished, allow the product to dry naturally in a protected spot for 24 hours so that the sulfur fully penetrates the wood. Once weathered, the wood will become whiter and look very natural. Treatment with lime sulfur should be repeated annually to ensure that the wood will last and also retain a clean appearance.

You can make the deadwood appear more silver grey by adding India ink or black water color pigment to the lime sulfur. Another trick is to paint black water color pigment into any cracks or depressions before applying the lime sulfur.

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Other Announcements and information

Board Change in Use of Paypal for Workshops

The RBS Board changed the policy with regard to paying for workshops in 2018 through Paypal. The price of a workshop paid for using Paypal will include the Paypal service fee of roughly 4

percent. So for a workshop costing $50, the price on our website will show $52 for the Workshop if paid online. The workshop price, if paying by check or cash, will be $50. If you have any questions on the new policy, contact 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.

Membership Dues Are Overdue

Membership allows you to attend all meetings, join classes, join workshops, sell items at the May auction, and participate in all club trips. If you have yet to pay, you can pay by cash or check at the April meeting through Dave Barker, RBS treasurer

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.

For sale:

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.

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