February 2019 Newsletter

If this newsletter does not display properly with photos, please view it at www.richmondbonsaisociety.org .


February 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 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.

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

So far this has certainly been a warm winter and I have quince already pushing flowers and leaf buds. The Farmer’s Almanac predicted a wetter and warmer winter for us, and I think we all agree it has definitely been wetter and for us in Central Virginia it’s definitely warmer. I think we have had more days of 50-60 degrees than we have had of 20 -30 degrees.

Winter is a time for planning and planning your bonsai related activities is critical to a successful year. This is the time to evaluate your trees with respect to repotting, styling, wiring and fertilizing. Was your fertilization program successful? Are trees ready for their first wiring? Are there trees ready to be wired for the second or third wiring? Repotting – which trees need to be repotted? Which trees are best kept in an Anderson box for another year or two – which trees are ready for a bonsai pot. Winter is always all about learning new habits and what can be better than new habits that result in a better bonsai collection? Step one: Take the time to evaluate your collection. Step Two: Develop a plan for each of your trees. Step Three: Follow Step Two. It’s that simple.

We have an exciting list of programs lined up for 2019 and we are busy confirming international speakers as this newsletter goes to out. I am excited to announce a new program for members. Dave Barker will be leading a beginner’s class that will meet prior to the regular meeting. This is an opportunity not to be missed and is targeted to members who have been doing bonsai 5 years or less. Dave will take you through the basic elements of style and design as well as wiring and potting and horticulture. This program will put you on the right path to successfully growing bonsai.


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Calendar of Bonsai Events:

Richmond Bonsai Society Events

February 25:      Ongoing Bonsai Basics Class
February 25:      Regular February Meeting: Fusions Trunks
March 16:           Beginner Workshop with Outdoor Tree
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

Other Organizations

MArch 23           Superfly Bonsai Superfly Festival
May 24-26          Brussel’s Bonsai Rendezvous

  • Please note the change from the 4th to the 5th Monday for the April meetings only

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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


The Maymont After Glow event October 27 thru November 11, turned out to be one our clubs best public exposures events , attracting many potential new members.

Our Bonsai static display was located right next to the doors leading out to the Japanese Garden event. The display of three plus, Awesome Bonsai with accent plants, was changed five times during the sixteen day event. It featured Bonsai of many sizes, styles, varieties, including both hardy and tropicals bonsai that was rotated during the event.

We almost doubled the number of “demo/lectures” which eventually became spontaneous and more personal. With the almost continuous stream of people passing on there way to the garden, many stopped by, showed great interest and left with our brochures.

A special thanks goes out to all the Clubs volunteers for this event and to the Maymont staff, who were most supportive and helped to make this event a very special Win for our Club and Maymont.  The display and event was well received by the public. Thanks to Jack, Jim and Randi for providing the useful demonstrations. A Special Thanks to John, and David, who not only transported and watered the trees, but provided all round support throughout the event and Lee who also provided trees for display.

January Meeting was on selecting pots and soils. We were also joined by lots of new members.

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 Starts  Feb. 25, 6:15 pm – 7:00 pm

RBS is offering a new Bonsai Basics class to members using junipers in winter/spring 2019. 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.

The cost of the basics class is for materials: $25 for a 1 gallon juniper, pot, and scissors; $10 for scissors only; and free to members supplying their own juniper and scissors. Wire, pot, and bonsai soil will be provided. The class is limited to 15 members, with 7 slots remaining after signups at the January meeting. All members can be silent observers. To secure your place in the class, email Dave Barker at dtbarker_sd@yahoo.com or come at 6 pm to the February meeting if spots remain. Payment can be made via paypal anytime or by cash or check at the February class.

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 February Meeting : Trunk Fusions. Feb. 25, 7 pm

The February meeting will feature how to fuse the trunks of seedlings to “quickly” develop a fatter trunk for bonsai.   Everyone wants to develop a tree as fast as possible and trunk fusion is one way to achieve this goal.  Come join us on Monday to learn how to successfully master trunk fusion so that you can replicate the process at home.    We will also share with you several videos on trunk fusion and discuss any questions you may have on this technique.

This program is Part 1 of a two-part series of programs on techniques to develop bonsai trunks “quickly” with positive results.   Part 2 will be the focus of the March meeting where we will be discussing the development of Trident Maple trunks using a “chop and grow” method.    We look forward to sharing these techniques with you so you are able to develop your trees in an expedient manner – or as expedient as you do anything in bonsai!

Come learn all about the possibilities of trunk fusion.  If you have fused trunks, please bring them in to share with the club. This meeting will take place in the COMMUNITY ROOM of St. Mary’s Woods at 7 pm.

Beginner Workshop with Outdoor Tree

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 10:00 A.M. and ending by 12:30 P.M. Great Big Greenhouse, Huguenot Village Shopping Center, 2051 Huguenot Road, North Chesterfield, VA 23235-4305

Come join the members of the Richmond Bonsai Society and learn about the art and science of growing and training bonsai trees. You will learn how bonsai are developed, the types of trees suitable and you will create you own bonsai to take home and enjoy. Plants and pots and other materials are provided. Come, learn and have fun!! (Price includes 2019 RBS membership, a $25 value). Space is limited to 30.

Register HERE!  Workshop Fee is $35.00 paid in advance.

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.  Our meeting will be about developing trident maple bonsai. If you have tridents, please bring them in to share with the club.  More details to follow.

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.

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2018 Treasurer’s Report

The 2018 year experienced a transition in treasurers, as Jack Frye relinquished the job after more than a decade.  Thanks Jack for your service!   I report monthly to the RBS Board and am providing the income statement below to the membership.  On hand, at the end of the year, we have $4,679 in the bank and an inventory of 15 small juniper trees from the Maymont Herbs Galore sale and some additional plastic pots.

If you have any questions regarding the report, please direct them to me after the February meeting.

Dave Barker, RBS treasurer

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

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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