February 2020 Newsletter


February 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

With the mild winter we have been experiencing, I noticed several of my deciduous bonsai are starting to bud out the Amur maple is actually in leaf. If your bonsai have gone through a winter with few days of freezing weather, you need should start thinking about how to prepare them for spring. The most important thing one should remember is to be patient. Your tree has rested over the winter and will be soon, if not currently, getting ready to explode with new growth. The following are some tips to get your bonsai ready for the spring season.

The first consideration to remember – we still have March and April to negotiate! Historically we have had warm weather during February only to have March and April wreak havoc on spring blooming flowers and trees, due to a turn in the weather to artic temperatures. Always remember Mother Nature is a crafty one and will not hesitate to have a 60-degree day followed by temperatures in the teens. This extreme swing in temperatures can not only cause die back of branches, it can actually kill trees that have their sap flowing if trees are not protected. There is always that temptation to put trees out on benches during the warm and sunny days and then when the lows hit at night your trees are unprotected from icy winds. Resist the temptation of the bonsai bug! Don’t be lured to jump into a bonsai frenzy when the sunshine is urging you on. If you decided to overwinter your bonsai in a garage, shed, or cold frame continue to leave it there until there is no more danger of freezing weather. Wait for the weather to fully warm up and watch the weather forecast.

Next, check your bonsai soil moisture content on warmer days leading up to spring. You should water your bonsai trees if dry. If it is overly wet, temporarily tilting the pot to the side may aid in drainage. If the bonsai is in a cold frame, you can open up the cold frame on warm days but be sure to close it at night. This will aid in keeping the overall temperature more even and perhaps prevent premature leafing. As noted earlier, remember to be patient. Temperatures may still be fluctuating a good deal from night today. The tree will suffer if it comes out of dormancy early and freezing weather comes through. As a result, it is NOT a good idea to take the tree out of protected storage during the day and move them back in at night. Wait until all signs of freezing weather have dissipated before bring your trees back on display.

RBS Annual Dues

2020 will be a great year for the Richmond Bonsai Society (RBS) as we celebrate 50 years as a club in Richmond; be part of the activities by joining the club.  Membership allows you to attend all meetings, join the bonsai basics classes, be the first to join workshops, sell items at the May auction, and participate in all club trips.  Don’t miss out on the learning opportunities and the fun, renew your membership.  The annual dues go toward paying expenses for the club including costs of bringing in outside speakers to club meetings, demonstration and workshop materials, the facility rental for the May picnic and auction, insurance, website costs, etc.  The 2019 Treasurer’s report gives the general breakdown of typical expenses.

After discussions and votes by the board, the motion to increase the Society’s dues by $5 was presented to the membership in October and approved in a vote at the January Meeting.  2020 dues are $30 per individual or $35 for a family. They are payable to the treasurer in person or via our website, or by check mailed to Richmond Bonsai Society, 1960 Bantry Drive, Midlothian, Virginia 23114.  Please make plans to pay your 2020 dues ASAP.

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Calendar of Bonsai Events:
February 23             Workshops with Sean SmithFebruary 24             Bonsai Basics Class #1February 24             Regular RBS Meeting Sean SmithMarch 1                     Potomac Viewing Stone  GroupMarch 14                  Beginner Workshop with Outdoor Trees
March 23                  Bonsai Basics Class #2March 23                  Regular RBS Meeting- RBS’s 50th Anniversary CelebrationApril 19                      Potomac Viewing Stone GroupApril 27                     Bonsai Basics Class #3April 27                     Regular April Meeting
June 7 2020             Club Picnic, Auction, and OFFICER ELECTION Other 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

January Meeting

Jack led a great discussion of bonsai pots showing us various styles, colors, shapes, and other considerations, and interesting points of view, relying on his experience as budding potter.

Upcoming Event Details

February Workshops And 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 .

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.  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.

Workshops: Sunday, February 23

All payments for workshops are due the day of the workshop. Members planning to take the workshop should email  Dave Barker,  dtbarker_sd@yahoo.com, directly since he has the sigh-up list and is tracking attendance.

SUNDAY  11:00 AM – 2:00 PM: SUISEKI & DIAZA Workshop

COST: $75.00, limited to 12 participants

AGE: Limited to 12 and up (with PARENT)

INCLUDES: Diaza blank 5.5”, stone, sandpaper, pencils, all other materials included

REQUIRED Tools: Electric Dremel, Dremel burr bit ¼” 1/8” SHAFT, ½” Dremel sanding drum

Lunch for Participants 2:00PM – 3:00 PM

3:00 PM – 6:PM  REDWOOD ROOT STAND Workshop

COST: $100, limited to 12 participants

AGE: limited to 12 and up (with and above PARENT) and above

INCLUDES: root stand blank 5.5”, sandpaper, pencils, all other materials needed

REQUIRED Tools:  electric Dremel, Dremel burr bit ¼”, 1/8” shaft

Regular Meeting, Monday February 24th, 7pm

Sean will offer a program on  on Suiseki. Looking forward to seeing you at  in the Community Room of St. Mary’s Woods. Please note the Community ROOM, is our regular room. 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.

Beginner Workshop with Outdoor Trees, March 14th 10am-12:30 pm

workshop tree

Come join the members of the Richmond Bonsai Society and learn about the art and science of growing and training bonsai (bone–sigh) trees.  You will learn how bonsai are developed, the types of trees suitable and you will create your own bonsai to take home and enjoy.  Plants and pots and other materials are provided.  Come, learn and have fun!!  (Price includes 2020 RBS membership, a $30 value)

WHERE:  Great Big Greenhouse, Huguenot Village Shopping Center, 2051 Huguenot Road, North Chesterfield, VA 23235-4305

COST: Workshop Fee is $35.00 paid in advance; only 30 seats available, so reserve yours today.

Register HERE or at www.richmondbonsaisociety.org   Advanced registration is required.

Current members are encouraged to come help with our workshop. Them more members that help, the more the participants feel welcomed and confident in their work, resulting in heather trees and potential members. Members are encouraged to arrive about 9:15 to help set up and are needed to help clean up afterwards..

2020 Bonsai Basics Classes (February -April)

RBS is offering a  series of Bonsai Basics classes to members using junipers in winter/spring 2020.  For those that want to expand their bonsai skills or refresh their skills, this is the class for you.  The classes will be taught by Dave Barker and will be comprised of three monthly sessions in the hour prior to the start of the regular bonsai meeting – at 6 pm before February, March, and April meetings.

The class will run 50 minutes, from 6:00 to 6:50, composed of 20 minutes of lecture and 30 minutes of practical application – working on your tree.  The first session will expose the nebari, find the front of the tree, and cleaning the branches in preparation for wiring.  The second session will involve initial pruning of the tree and then wiring main branches in place.  In the third session, the tree will be root pruned, put in a pot with bonsai soil and finished.

The cost of the basics class is for materials:  $25 for a 1 gallon juniper, pot, and scissors; $20 for a tree and pot only; $10 for scissors only; and free to members if you are supplying the juniper, pot, and scissors.  Any juniper is acceptable – procumbens nana, shimpaku, shore juniper, parsonii, etc.   Wire and bonsai soil will be provided.  The class is limited to 12 members, with sign-up and payment beginning at the January meeting.   There are 7 spots remaining.  If you missed the January meeting, you can sign-up by sending an email to Dave Barker at dtbarker_sd@yahoo.com indicating you want to join the class.  Once spots are filled, a waiting list will be created.  Payment for the class is due at the first class.

All RBS members can be silent observers at the class to review basic skills and watch the bonsai creation process.  Experienced members are requested to assist with members of the class beginning at 6:20, after the lecture portion of the class.March Meeting: PARTYTIME!!  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.

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Making Jins, Shari and Shari-miki 

Every now and then we decide to make our trees more “authentic” by artificially ageing them.  Sometimes this can be accomplished by careful styling, but a sure way to accomplish this look is by adding jins, shari, or shari-miki accents.  These styling tricks are used extensively with evergreens, but also can be used effectively with deciduous trees.  A jin is a white dead tip or a stripped branch on a tree, a shari is a white section of bark removed from the trunk of a tree, and a shari-maki is an almost totally dead trunk, with only enough bark remaining to sustain tree life.  This latter effect is often confused with a tanuki or phoenix bonsai, where a smaller live tree with a flexible trunk is entwined in a piece of driftwood – ideally the same species – to create a new bonsai.

These three techniques can be used to mask a tree defect, to reduce the size of an overly large branch, or to give greater taper to a tree trunk.  All trees give the illusion of an age-damaged or near dead tree.  All effects could be the result of a lightning strike or a broken branch from high wind or snow loads.  Jins are not uncommon, whereas the other two styling effects are unusual.  John Naka’s famous bonsai with jins, called Goshin, at the US National Arboretum is shown on the left (below); an example of a shari was shown at this year’s Fair (middle, below).  Shari-miki design is highly unusual and also was shown at the Fair (on right, below).

Jins can be made at any time of the season, but must reflect balance within the tree.  In a treetop setting, the naked branch can stick out at an odd angle or merely emerge from the nabari (tree apex). Bark is stripped from the branch with a knife, and then wood is removed and tapered by carving, sanding, or pre-crushing/stripping (with pliers) to get the aged/damaged effect. Sometimes the “jinned” branch can be left as a nub, indicating that the majority of the branch has fallen off.  After allowing the wood to dry slightly, lime-sulfur compound is painted on the stripped branch.  We’ll discuss lime-sulfur in detail later.

Shari and shari-miki effects are much more difficult to produce, and should be done over a few seasons to minimize the trauma to the tree.  Two jins on adjacent branches can be connected by shari.  Sometimes a separate tree growing next to or out of the tree base can be made into a deadwood stump – an effective way to remove an unwanted feature. Bark and wood must be removed in the direction of tree growth.  Small amounts of bark are removed initially, and then the tree is allowed to dry out and recover; the bare patch is extended in subsequent sessions.  Shari should not be made directly up and down the trunk, but rather angled slightly and made irregular to enhance the natural effect.  After each session, the shari should be treated with lime-sulfur after drying to prevent rot.  There is a style called saba-miki, where a substantial volume of the trunk is removed to produce an apparent “rotted-out” tree hollow or stump – an even more difficult technique; the hollowed area must be treated with lime-sulfur to avoid true rotting..

Now that you have the basics of jin/shari, some comments on lime-sulfur are needed.  Lime-sulfur is mixture of calcium polysulfides made by reacting calcium hydroxide with elemental sulfur; lime-sulfur is a reddish-yellow aqueous solution that smells very strongly like rotten eggs.  This compound is strictly for outdoors use in my opinion. Lime-sulfur is used commercially in horticulture to kill fungi, bacteria, and insects.  One should wear rubber gloves/goggles and work in a well-ventilated area to avoid problems with this potentially toxic compound.  The result of brushing tree parts with this mixture is a bleached, starkly white section that fades to an ashen color with age. This mixture will protect the wood from rot and insect damage, but it also will kill healthy wood and foliage if not applied carefully.

Now that you have the basics, please further explore the details of this effect in books or via the internet, and produce your own “aged” interesting tree.  There are several experienced members of our club who also can help you create these interesting styles.

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Other Announcements and information

2019 Treasurer’s Report

The 2019 expenses and revenues are reported quarterly to the RBS Board and semi-annually to the club membership.  The income statement below outlines revenues and expenses for the year.  In 2019, the club experienced a growth in paid memberships from 38 in 2018 to 58 (excluding memberships offered through the March beginner’s workshop), but both revenues and expenses were down as there were fewer workshops than in 2018. On hand, at the end of the year, we have $5,566 in the bank and an inventory of wire, a few plastic pots, a few small junipers, and a few bonsai that were donated to the club in 2019 that will be sold at club meetings via silent auction.  If you have any questions, please direct them to Dave Barker, RBS treasurer, at the February  meeting.

Website/Communications Help Needed

Thomas needs some assistance updating our website, sending newsletters and other email services. If you are familiar with HTML or CRON email services, please speak to Thomas.

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.

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