August 2017 Newsletter

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August 2017 Newsletter

Richmond Bonsai Society 2016 – 2018 Officers
President: Ron Edwards  Vice President: Jon Warkentin Treasurer: Jack Frye  Secretary: Thomas Sones
Board Members At Large: Betty Lou Lages

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 here.

RBS 2017 dues are $25 per person or $30 per family, which includes PBA membership. Checks should be made out to RBS and can be paid at a meeting or mailed to our treasurer (email us for address).

In this issue…

Secretary’s Message by Thomas Sones

Happy summer! It’s been a hot and dry one for most of us. This was the first summer in a few years that in addition to the bonsai, I had to water my landscape plants that have been in the ground for years. I hope you were able to keep up with the watering too. I have been a bit lazy though, and other than watering, have neglected my trees this past month. I look forward to cooler, less humid days in the yard. As fall sets in, feeding and water routines change. However,  be careful because as temperatures cool, I have a tendency to underwater and have lost some trees to this.  There are monthly tips on our web page. Anyway, RBS has a great lineup of events scheduled for this fall, so watch for updates and don’t miss out. Please use the web site Events page to register for workshop and volunteer shifts.

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Calendar of Bonsai Events:

Richmond Bonsai Society Events

August        NO REGULAR MEETING or WORKDAY/StudyGroup
Sep. 16        Special meeting with Chris Schmuck, Lecture and Demo on Ponderosa Pines
Sep. 16        Workday/Study group (following lecture/demo)
Sept. 30-Oct. 1  RBS Fall Bonsai Show at Great Big Green House
Oct. 6           Workshops with Andy Smith
Oct. 23         Regular Meeting
Other Organizations:
Now – Oct. 1    Exhibit: The Bonsai Saga: How 53 Japanese Bonsai Came to America, National Arboretum, D.C.
Dec. 2-3        Winter Silhouette Exhibit, Kannapolis, NC

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Recent Activity Reports

Sean Smith Demonstration and Workshops

In June, Sean Smith visited us and did a wonderful lecture and demonstration about using yews as bonsai. He answered a lot of our questions and we learned a lot about them. The tree that he designed will be auctioned off at a future club meeting.

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The following day, Sean did two workshops with us. The first was carving a “root” stand and the second was carving a diaza, or stone stand. These workshops were really fun and we were all very proud of our finished products.

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Upcoming Event Details

September Meeting: Ponderosa Pine Lecture and Demo with Chris Schmuck, September 16, 10 am

Chris, past president of the Peninsula Bonsai Society will do a demonstration and lecture about Ponderosa Pines. This event will be of our regular September Meeting. However, instead of our usual time, it will be Saturday, September 16th at 10 am. Usual place.

September Member Workday/Study Group, September 16th, 1-4 pm

After Chris’s presentation, we will have our regularly scheduled Member Workday/Study Group. Members are encouraged to bring in their own plants to work on, and anything they may need including tools and cleaning equipment.

RBS Annual Fall Bonsai Show

Once again, The Great Big Green House will host a Fall Bonsai Show on September 30 and October 1st. Members will be exhibiting their favorite trees, doing demonstrations and lectures, and giving advice to anyone interested in Bonsai. In addition, The Great Big Green House will have a special sale and discounts available during the show. Members will get a separate notice about preparing and exhibiting trees, setting up, and volunteering.

Andy Smith Workshop

The Potomac Bonsai Association is bringing in Andy Smith of Golden Arrow Bonsai for a member workshops on October 6th.  Andy is well known for collecting and designing conifers, especially old ponderosa pines.  You can see examples here.  Andy has made a special selection of them exclusively for us available for a great price. He will ship the trees a few weeks before the workshop but the deadline to order is SEPTEMBER 18. This is a rare opportunity to get these trees, which are very old and collected from the mountains.  These particular trees were collected and potted in the spring of 2016 or earlier.

The workshop is a bring your own tree (preferably conifer) workshop and we will run one session from 10am to 3pm with a limited number of participants. RBS and PBA is picking up most of costs and the workshop is only $50 for RBS members. It will take place at our normal location at St. Mary’s Woods Retirement Center.

You can sign up for his workshops here.

In addition, If you would like one of the trees below please contact Andy directly at  You can expect him to ask for half of the price up front and the full price before shipment.   Prices DO NOT include shipping, but it should run $30-45 per tree. Some of these trees may have already sold, but I am sure he can help you find what you want.

P220 $85                  P328 $125


329 $100                   P330 $150


P331 $250                  P332 $175

P334 $175                   P333 $250



Satsuki Azalea Presentation by Randi Heise

On June 27th I traveled up to Culpepper VA to hear Mike Mitchell speak on Satsuki Azaleas to the Master Gardeners of the Fredericksburg area.  Mike has been working exclusively with Satsuki bonsai for the last 15 years. He first traveled to California to take classes from the Satsuki Bonsai Society in California and after the club was reduced in membership through attrition, he started traveling to the largest Satsuki bonsai nursery in Japan for instruction and to work on nursery trees.  He continues to travel to Japan twice a year  to work at the Satsuki bonsai nursery in Nara twice a year.    As of June 2017, he has traveled to Japan a total of 24 trips.  Mike is extremely knowledgeable in azalea bonsai care and development and we are working to bring him to Richmond so that he can share his knowledge with the club

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Japanese Black Pine Seedling Workshop by Randi Hiese

wwwwOn June 17th Betty Lou Lages and I traveled to Northern Virginia to attend a Japanese Black Pine seedling workshop hosted by Peter Jones, a member of the Northern Virginia Bonsai Society.  Invitations were extended to representatives from all PBA clubs and each participant was given a propagation tray, planting medium (construction sand) and access to Peter’s newly germinated Black Japanese Pine seedlings.

The workshop was dedicated to teaching participants the procedure of trimming roots from pine seedlings based on an article in BONSAI TODAY, Issues # 12. The article titled, “Growing Pines from Seed by Mitsuya Matauo explains the procedure of cutting off the roots of the seedlings as the first step in developing quality Black Pine bonsai.  Each participant first filled the pots of the propagation tray with the construction sand and then proceeded to cut off all seedling roots with a razor blade.  Once the roots were removed, the seedlings were planted.  Hormone was not used for the majority of the seedlings however several participants had an opportunity to apply rooting hormone.  The use of the hormone is not needed and caution must be used if rooting hormone is applied to seeding.  This method removing the roots of Black Pine seedlings started in 1950 when the technique was recognized as producing better quality trees for bonsai than other methods. This method also severely reduced the problems of seedling failure due to damping off.

Each participant left with a tray of seedlings and were asked to share their experiences with their affiliated club and to continue to monitor and how the seedlings develop into pre-bonsai over the next few years.  Please let me know if you are interested in this technique and I will be happy to send you a PDF of the article.

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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.

PBA mailing list – PBA is compiling an email list to make communications more streamlined. Sign up here.

For sale:

Mixed Bonsai Soil -regular and shohin soil (fine) 5 gal bags. Call Lee (804-869-1257) to place a special order.

Pumice (as a planting medium). Randi has pumice in two sizes, 3/8 and 5/16. Both sizes are priced the same, a 79 pound bag is $93 otherwise the pumice is sold at $1.25 per pound. Contact her for orders.

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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