January 2020 Newsletter


January 2020 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: Vinnie Charity
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 info@richmondbonsaisociety.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.

In this issue…

President’s Message by Randi Heise

Happy New Year!  It’s hard to believe we are starting a new decade with 2020.   I was binge watching old Sci-Fi Movies, it seems the only thing we have yet to achieve are the flying cars of the Jetson’s.

Looking at the calendar and weather forecast,   my trees are still on their benches, patiently waiting for winter. The maples are showing signs of developing buds and the buds on the Japanese Maples are turning red. The candles on the two needed pines are extending.  These signs of pushing and growth are happening early in January but a glance at the calendar shows forecasted temps of high 60s, low 70s and evening temps of low – mid 50s.  All these indicate SPRING but then again this is January and Mother Nature is playing a dangerous game. New tender growth does well in 50 -70-degree days and even during nights of 30s and 40s but REMEMBER…FEBRUARY is lurking around the corner and February is well known not to play well with pushing trees.   So, keep an eye on the calendar and try to accept there is little we can do when we are at the mercy of Mother Nature, without a heated greenhouse,  other than protect our trees from the wind and make sure they do not dry out.  It’s going to be a milder winter with lots of precipitation  in the form of rain.  With snow comes the insulating blanket and with rain comes the insulating ice that forms on branches when the temperatures are falling.  I understand for my area, it will be most likely a rainy winter season so tilting pots to avoid water sitting in pots is critical.

Our gift this year is from  Bjorn Bjorholom’s nursery, Eisei-en.   If you haven’t already gone out to Bjorn’s website and subscribed to his newsletter, you should do so.  His latest free video is on Styling a Yamadori Pine Bonsai | Bonsai-U.   You cannot go wrong watching his videos and it is likely you will learn a thing or two!  There is a mountain of information on the internet and in various forums and some of it is accurate. If you stick with Bjorn or Ryan Neil’s videos, you can’t go wrong.  Ryan also offers a “stepped” membership to bonsai information where the top tier provides access to live Q& A sessions with Ryan through pod casts.   So, while we wait for Spring to show up, turn on your computer and broaden your bonsai knowledge through reputable bonsai resources.  Your trees will love you for it!

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Calendar of Bonsai Events:
January 27               Regular RBS MeetingFebruary 24             Regular RBS MeetingMarch 23                  Regular RBS Meeting- RBS’s 50th Anniversary Celebration
May 2020                Club Picnic, Auction, and OFFICER ELECTIONOther OrganizationsOctober 2020          Global Bonsai SeminarsMay 2020                 Brussel’s Rendezvous. https://brusselsbonsai.com/rendezvous-join-us/ 

Register now for the ABS Learning Seminars.Back to the top.

Recent Activity Reports

Holiday Party Sunday December 15th

We had a great Holiday Party with a large gorup and are very appreciative of our host, E.L. Smith’s home on Sunday, December 15th.  Please plan to bring a dish to share and a gift to exchange. The gift exchange price range is $20 and be prepared to engage in a game of “Dirty” Santa as you select your gift and then struggle to maintain it as the next person to select a gift may have one mission and that’s to take your gift away from you. You are the next to select a gift and may be able to take it back ….may be able. You need to follow those pesky and perhaps troublesome  rules you know.   Bonsai related gifts are suggested and heavily preferred.  It’s a lovely time in a wonderful setting.

Upcoming Event Details

January Meeting: Monday, January 27, 7 pm

The first bonsai objective we face every year is potting or repotting our trees.  After soil selection the most daunting task is selecting a pot for your tree that will show case your tree without stealing the show.

Join us at the January meeting where  member Jack Frye, Potter Extraordinaire, will offer a presentation on pots and lead a discussion as to how to match tree and pot.  Tips you need to be aware of, masculine vs. feminine; glazed vs non-glazed; lip vs no -lip; feet: cloud or no cloud all these attributes attributed to pots may come into play when selecting a pot for your tree.  Come and learn the tips to sends that you have the perfect pot to compliment your tree and meld into the design without shifting the focus of the bonsai to the  pot.  If the initial impact of the newly repotted/potted tree is this fabulous pot, you have a dilemma to resolve. No reason to table the pot, it’s may be as simple as not being “THE” pot for ”THAT” tree.

Looking forward to seeing you at  in the Community Room of St. Mary’s Woods. Please note the Community ROOM, is our regular room.

February Workshops and Regular Meeting – February 23 & 24

The February program will feature a guest artist, Sean Smith. Sean Smith brings 40 years of passion for Bonsai, Suiseki (viewing stone) and Diaza (base carving for your viewing stone) when discussing insights gathered from studying with Japanese masters in  various traditional display and aesthetic disciplines. With his passion and extensive background in carpentry, Sean took the two, put them together and started his own business in 1994. He makes bonsai display tables, and carves daiza for renowned bonsai and suiseki enthusiasts all over the world. But it does not stop there, in 2003, Sean was the first American to exhibit an American  Suiseki in the Japanese National Suiseki Show at the Meji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan. In 2008 Sean was given recognition by the World Bonsai friendship Federation for the promoting and expanding the Japanese art of Suiseki. Later in 2014 Sean was one of few westerners invited to exhibit a Suiseki in the 1st major suiseki exhibit at the Tokyo National Museum .

We will have Sean Smith lead two workshops and also do the presentation on Monday night.  Sean will offer two workshops over the weekend and a program on Monday night on Suiseki,  One workshop will focus on stones and the other one on a redwood carved root stand.  We had Sean several years ago and I took both of these workshops. I’ll have the carved redwood bonsai stand and the carved diaza stand and stone at the January meeting.  The workshops are  definitely  hands on workshop and you will be astonished at how fabulous your stand and/or stone diaza turns out.  I’m still amazed.

Details regarding the workshop will follow l shortly with a separate email.

Members are encouraged to bring in their Suiseki to share and discuss.

Suiseki: Explained in a simple way, the suiseki is the comprehension and the appreciation of nature through a stone, resulting from nature. Suiseki (Sui = water, Seki = stone) is the study and enjoyment of naturally formed stones as objects of beauty. The art of Suiseki involves the collection, preparation and appreciation of unaltered naturally formed stones. These stones are found in mountain streams, on windblown deserts, along ocean beaches – anywhere that nature may have deposited or shaped them

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Article:  Basic Bonsai Tools


A beginner looks at the large selection of bonsai tools available and wonders which ones are truly needed for his use.  Tools fall into 3 main categories according to their end function: pruning/cutting, wiring, and potting. All tools must be kept sharp, clean, and free of rust and nicked edges.

Necessary pruning/cutting implements are scissors, concave branch cutters, spherical knob cutters, and folding saws.  Scissors usually have a small shearing area, but are structured for mechanical advantage (i.e. ease of cutting).  Bonsai scissors also are have a sharp knife-edge (vs. the standard offset shearing edge), in order to obtain a clean, precise cut.  Bonsai aficionados usually have several pairs of scissors of different sizes – some for precise, small-scale trimming of needles and leaves, and others for small branches and heavier cutting duties.  In contrast, concave cutters are used to remove larger branches so that they will heal flush to the trunk surface. Sometimes cutters of different sizes are needed, since the general rule is that the branch diameter should be half the width or less of the tool cutting surface. Knob cutters are used to scoop out a stubbed branch below the surface plane of the main tree trunk – a circular cut; re-growth in the wound area will then produce a flush trunk surface.  Saws, of course, are for cleanly removing large branches.

Wiring tools primarily consist of pliers and wire cutters.  The contact area (jaws) of these pliers is smooth and has a small gap.  This allows the pliers to be used for bending wiring and as a jinning tool.  The tool handles are long and the jaw area is small, thus allowing for applying pressure precisely and with mechanical advantage. Wire cutters are used to cut small diameter wire and to remove wire from branches without damaging the plant surface.

Lastly, basic potting tools consist of a root hook for root cleaning, a scissors to prune roots, chopsticks to work the soil into the root cavities, and trowel to compress the soil surface.  The jinning pliers do double duty to twist the wires that anchor the tree to the pot.

Other implements such as turntables, grafting knives, soil scoops, and soil sieves are very useful, but the above tools are basic to our art.

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Other Announcements and information

RBS Welcomes new Board Members

As you may have read in our recent newsletters, RBS has needed to fill the Board Member at Large positioning on the Board of Directors for some time now. Our President, Randi, has appointed Vinnie Charity to fill the position for the remainder of the 2018-2020 term. All board positions are due for new election in May 2020 (see below).

RBS Annual Dues

RBS is a fairly large organization with numerous expenses and currently, we only have three main income streams: dues, workshops, and the monthly auction of donated material. Our largest expense is the costs of having outside speakers.  Good workshop leaders and speakers are expensive  and often includes the speaker’s fee, and sometimes hotel bill, meals, transportation, and demonstration material costs.  The board thoroughly discussed the proposal to raise club dues and voted in approval of the proposal before announcing at the October meeting.   The  proposal from the board is to raise dues $5 a person and we will vote as a club at the November meeting.  We are happy to answer any questions regarding costs at the November meeting before the vote.


Over the past few months, you may have noticed the silent auctions of many items donated to the club. Last month Randi went to Montpelier and picked up several trees from the estate of a past member.  She still has several to retrieve.  The trees were neglected for several years and now that she has them,  they will be re-potted in the spring and should be ready for auction prior to the club picnic in 2020.  We want to be sure the tree’s you bid upon are healthy and ready to relocate into your garden. Stay tuned!

PARTY TIME!!  HAPPY 50th Anniversary RBS!

Time flies with good friends, good times and a shared interest.  Richmond Bonsai Association will turn fifty next year. It’s time to plan our celebration and we want everyone to be involved and help us celebrate. If you have any celebratory thoughts or suggestions don’t hold back shoot us an email. We want this to be a celebration of bonsai, the club history and FUN.  I’m throwing out my two cents and suggesting raffles, a bonsai show, great food good drink, new friends, old friends, and surprises.  We’re tracking down lost members and if you have someone in mind to invite, please do so.We’re thinking catered and if you like some potluck and decorations.  Now it’s your turn for your ideas.  Don’t wait too long since the event will be held in March. That seems like a long way off…but I measure time in meetings and that’s only 3 more meetings before the event since we do not have a meeting in December.

Nominations Committee Formed for 2020 Elections

Thomas will head a nominations committee for the 2020 Elections. RBS members will elect a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Recording Secretary, and Board Member at large in May for the 2020-2022 two year term. Anyone interested in helping with the committee or who has thoughts about the nominations or candidates, please speak to Thomas. 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.Back to the top.