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Susquehanna Bonsai Club October meeting with special guest bonsai professional Colin Lewis
COLORADO BLUE SPRUCE DEMONSTRATION BY COLIN LEWIS
OCTOBER 19, 2015
By Darlene Tyler
Colin Lewis was the guest artist at Natures Way’s Fall Open House this year. He also conducted a Workshop and an evening demonstration on Friday and a Study Group on Sunday.
Colin is originally from England but now lives in Maine where he has a nursery. He has written articles and books and lectured extensively. He was chosen to be one of the five judges at the Artisans Cup in Portland, Oregon. Colin shared his thoughts about the Artisans Cup: “It was not a bonsai exhibit but rather an art exhibit that had bonsai. The quality of the trees was very high, however, there were too many Rocky Mountain Junipers.” His position is that when you work deciduous trees you learn about its structure and how the tree grows, whereas working conifers whose branches are more flexible and easily shaped is more molding the tree. It is better to learn bonsai working deciduous trees since you learn more about structure”.
For our club demo, Colin chose to style a Colorado Blue Spruce. After deciding on the front and style of the tree, Colon began to work on creating jin. It easier to see the tree if the jin are the right color so the bark and wood are peeled off at the same time revealing a spiral grain which is common in spruce. If you use raffia on larger branches, use colored raffia for the top layer so that it is the same color as the branch being wired and bent. There is a flat saw cut at the base of the tree which will have to be hollowed out or carved. Use power tools to make a hollow. Deciduous trees have hollows instead of jin. It is acceptable to allow the hollow to rot. It is only the deadwood that will rot.
The lowest, heaviest, dominant branch will be on the sloping side of the trunk. The other branches will be wired and brought lower. Spruce bleed resin profusely. This is a good time of year to work on spruce because they are not pumping as much resin. Cauterizing helps to seal the cuts so they do not bleed so much. The dry resin is white and can be removed with the use of alcohol and a soft toothbrush and then carefully wash the resin away with soap and water and the soft toothbrush.
Before wiring the tree, clean off the old needles. The year before last year’s needles will come off easily so pull those. It is better to cut needles on pines rather than pulling them to prevent bark damage. Next look at the shoots, some will be blind, others will not have a terminal bud but will have buds along the branch, remove the blind shoots because they will eventually die back. (#3)When wiring, use a long piece of wire and estimate how much wire you will need to wire the first branch and wire it, then wire the second branch with the long piece of wire. When you are finished wiring the second branch, cut the remainder of the long piece of wire and begin wiring the next two branches in the same manner – this drastically
cuts down on the amount of scrap wire produced. When you want to get movement in a branch, at least three turns near the pressure points.
The wires can stay on as long as they aren’t digging in, if they are digging in cut out the piece that is digging generally at the top of the tree and also the more severe bends. If you are re-wiring a tree, run the wires in the opposite direction if possible or not in the same tracks as the last time. The branches may need to be wired two or three times (small branches twice) to establish the branch shapes. Thin areas where there are too many buds. If the buds aren’t healthy, the tree isn’t healthy. Blue spruce pointy buds are not particularly vigorous but buds that look like roses or cabbage shoots will grow vigorously and extend. If you pinch in the spring, you will not get back-budding on the branch rather the branch will live for a while and buds will form at the base of the branch. The biggest task then is going over the tree and cutting out all the aborted shoots that were pinched.
Colin shared his horticultural knowledge with us while wiring the tree. One question asked was “How did you get started in bonsai?” Colin said that during the sixties while growing a specific plant, he discovered that when you pinch the tips of branches you get two branches. This was his “aha moment” and he said “That’s how they do it!” He also talked about collecting yamadori in the White Mountains. Maine has Red Spruce which are native and are good for bonsai. Alberta spruce (Pica glauca ‘Conica’) is not good for bonsai. In a regenerated forest the birch grow first and bit by bit other species become established in the understory of the birch. When the birch die the conifers take over. When a forest fire occurs, the conifer seeds will be there and they will be growing in a far too exposed environment which favors the creation of trees exposed to extremes of wind and snow. Eastern white pine can be used for bonsai but they take more time. They will back bud and the needles will reduce.
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The finished bonsai. What front do you prefer?
As always thanks for reading 🙂
Recently the Susquehanna Bonsai club had a presentation on how to make kusamono and kokedama. The club was honored to have Young Choe as the presenter. Young Choe has studied extensively on these subjects and travels all around the world teaching the arts of kusamono and kokedama. Young studied kusamono in Japan under master Kusamono artist, Keiko Yamane, a former student of Saburo Kato. Please enjoy reading the below notes from our latest club newsletter (editor – Ross Adams) written by club member Darlene Tyler. Thanks for the article Darlene!
By Darlene Tyler
Kusamono are potted arrangements of wild grasses and flowers in unique pots or trays selected to suggest a season or place where they grow. There are three basic styles of Kusamono: moss-ball ( Kokedama), out-of-pot, and container.
Many meadow and woodland plants are suitable for Kusamono compositions including blue stem grass, flowering onion, Japanese anemone, goldenrod, Iris cristata, Virginia strawberry, shining sumac, ferns, lily of the valley, Epimedium, chrysanthemum, Canada mayflower, red columbine, American wintergreen, narrow leaf mountain mint, Solomon’s seal, cobra lily, culver’s root, hawkweed and Japanese blood red.
Young chose a naturalistic tray-like container for her first composition. Think about the color of the plants and flowers and the container. Choose the front of the container first and add a layer of potting soil (Buffalo Organic Potting Soil or fine grain Kanuma and charcoal). The pH of the soil should be about 6.5. Next add the rocks on top of the soil. The rocks were chosen and carefully arranged on the tray. Use 1, 3, or 5 rocks and leave space in front and place rocks slightly to the middle-side of the container. Be happy with each step of the process. After the arrangement was pleasing to Young, she chose a woodland aster as the first plant (the tallest plant is placed first). Loosen up the roots of the plant but don’t cut too many roots in the summer. The wood aster is placed with its face facing forward between the rocks and more soil is added. Golden rod, Chrysanthemum crispum( a small flower and white edged leaves), a spring flower (Oenothera) and Campanula were added. Be sure there is soil between the rocks and the plants. A fine moss was added to finish the composition. Use chopsticks to push the moss into the soil. Water with a fine spray and keep it in shade for two weeks before introducing it to part shade. Do not allow the plants to dry out.
KOKEDAMA (moss ball)
Muck soil is used to create moss balls. Add enough muck to the soil so that the ball will maintain its shape. The ball is created on top of a tile or screen which has four wires protruding to attach the ball. Start selecting a combination of plants that seen to relate to each other place the tallest plant first than the supporting plants adding more muck tot the ball as needed. Finish off by applying moss to the composition. Press the moss into the soil and affix it to the ball with fine black thread. Oat grass, golden rod, penstemon, and chrysanthemum were used for one of the balls.
When the composition no longer absorbs water, it is time to separate and re-pot a kusamono.
Thanks for reading and for more info about Young Choe, please check out her website provided below.
Young’s website is http://www.kusamonochoe.com for more information about Kusamono.
Any follower that’s not in the Susquehanna Bonsai Club thanks for following! However, please disregard this post as it pertains to club members. Don’t worry, you’re not missing anything 🙂 Stay tuned for upcoming post!
ALL SUSQUEHANNA BONSAI CLUB MEMBERS – If you are not receiving the monthly newsletter it’s either because you have not supplied your email or the email we have on file is no longer valid. If you would like to receive the monthly newsletters and any other email notice please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you to the mailing list. Thanks!
Mauro Stemberger. Italian stallion and bonsai extraordinaire! Mauro’s demo on a Rocky Mountain Juniper for the club.
Following is from the club newsletter editor Ross Adams:
Mauro works as an architect and as a bonsai artist. He became fascinated with the art of bonsai when he was fourteen and joined the local bonsai club in Feltre, Italy. During his formative early years he was able to take workshops with, among others, Hotsumi Terakawa, Marc Noelander, Horst Crekler and Edoardo Rossi. Meeting Alfiero Suardi and Enrico Savini inspired him to take his techniques to a new level. In 2005 he founded the Italian Bonsai Dream Workshop with a group of enthusiastic bonsai folk so they could become totally immersed in the work and enjoyment of bonsai. Go to Facebook or his website http://www.italianbonsaidream.com for more information.
As Mauro worked on the Rocky Mountain Juniper demonstration tree, he shared the following. The best time to work on Rocky Mountain Juniper is when it starts to point (tips of branches are elongating). Mauro decided
to create a double trunk Bunjin style bonsai with the second apex low on the tree.
When styling, first get rid of the parts that are not going to be used. Also eliminate straight, horizontal and vertical lines. Geometry, lines and spaces are of utmost importance in bonsai. If there are any decaying deadwood areas on the trunk, remove the spongy deadwood and treat the remainder with PC Wood Hardener. If the tree is strong you can safely remove up to 70% of the foliage.
Before any significant cutting of branches, however, It is important to find the live veins. If you cut branches that are important to a live vein, l the live vein may die. Equally important is to make a clean line between the dead and live veins. Mauro uses a Swiss leather makers tool to do this (It resembles a scalpel). He also uses a tool made from a chain saw blade bent into a u-shape (Scorp) to clean off the bark from he dead vein areas.
For severe bends, use raffia. Putting tape on top of the raffia will maintain moisture on the bend and the branch will recover more quickly. Wiring is the language of
Bonsai. Test the branch before you wire it to determine the size of wire needed. Mauro prefers copper wire since it is stronger and you can use a smaller gage. Start with larger wire on the base of the trunk and the basic structure of the tree, then wire the secondary branches with appropriate wire and finally the smallest branches with fine wire. Keep the wire flow continuous and in contact with the branches to distribute stress to the trunk of the tree. Wire so that the wire will become tighter after the branch is bent.
Mauro loves to collect trees and to do the first designs of trees. Unlike bonsai professionals in Japan who are specialized, Mauro does all stages of development and maintenance of trees.
In Europe the collecting is done in February to the end of April at lower altitudes. Mugo Pines and higher altitude trees are collected from May to June. While collecting it is important to determine where the live
veins are and if you can successfully collect roots associated with the live veins. Equally important is the trunk movement. When you collect trees, mist and adjust the temperature up or down so that the tree continues to suck water.
Olives are easy to collect since the base can be cut off horizontally and the tree will root easily. Oaks in Italy grow in clay soil and after collecting, plant them in perlite and put a black plastic bag over them and keep completely dark in winter then change to a transparent bag when it starts to push in the greenhouse, then to air in the greenhouse and then outside. If yamadori trees are strong, you can style them after having been grown in a pot for three years.
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Thanks for reading 🙂
I apologize for such an extremely longtime since the last post on the Susquehanna Bonsai Clubs blog. A combo of extremely limited time and technical difficulties is never a good mix.
Back in February of this year, the club had speaker David Knittle do a presentation on properly displaying bonsai and the different materials used to display bonsai particularly tables/stands. Dave is a very well-known wood craftsman who for many years handmade high quality wood furniture. Dave at one point found an interest in bonsai and the methods of displaying them and decided he could put his craftsmanship skills into making wooden display tables/stands for bonsai. Dave’s bonsai displays are sought after around the world and in high demand. Please enjoy the gallery below of Dave’s presentation to the Susquehanna Bonsai Club.
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Sorry again for such a long time between post. Thanks for reading!
This years Hershey Garden Bonsai Exhibit has come and gone!
This year’s exhibit ran from October 11 through November 9. Historically, this has been a very popular exhibit with the Hershey Garden’s visitors and is a great way to introduce the public to the Susquehanna Bonsai Club and was once again this year. As in prior years, visitors to the exhibit were encouraged to vote for their favorite tree and SBC will be offering recognition awards to the three top entries. The exhibit was held in the Butterfly house as before and was such a beautiful and great setting to display some excellent bonsai. So if you didn’t have a chance to visit the Hershey Gardens Bonsai Exhibit this year or you would like to remember how great it was, just click on the first image of the photo gallery and enjoy!
As always, The Susquehanna Bonsai Club appreciates all its viewers and visitors to our site! If you are local and have an interest in bonsai please stop by one of the clubs events and check us out! Thanks again!!
On a side note – The local news station, WGAL, did a great write-up about The Susquehanna Bonsai Club and its exhibit at Hershey Gardens. Check out what they had to say and what a few of the club members had to say during their interviews. Click on the provided link to view the article : http://www.wgal.com/news/ancient-craft-of-bonsai-practiced-around-the-susquehanna-valley/29254390