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President’s Message: Covid Rides Again!

Happy New Year BCSB Members,

Allan and I hope everyone had a happy, restful, and above all, safe holiday season. At my household, we spent about ½ of the time helping our kids navigate around Pacific Northwest snowstorms and close calls with COVID. Fortunately, the rest of the time was a lot of fun. It was good to have them home again for the holidays. Allan on the other hand had to go to Kansas…

Speaking of COVID, as Yogi Berra used to say, and John Fogerty used to sing, “It’s like déjà-vu all over again.” So, thanks to the omicron variant, we will be going back to a virtual format for the first club meeting of 2022 on Tuesday 11 January at 7:00 PM. Zoom coordinates will be sent in a separate club email later this week.

I had a critical conversation with our illustrious Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara Board Members on whether we should have a virtual club meeting this month due to omicron. They decided that the risk of contracting COVID from an in-person meeting was only slightly worse that listening to yours truly give the main program presentation over Zoom (….Ahem, because no one else volunteered…). However, since it was a near unanimous decision by The Board, the rest of you are stuck with me on your computer screens next Tuesday.

I will do my best to make it an interesting event by giving a presentation on the 7th annual US National Bonsai Exhibition that I attended this past September in Rochester, NY. Although, I highly recommend that everyone toggle their Zoom settings to so that your main display is the ‘screen share” of the fancy pictures and videos I will use rather than “Speaker View”…..

For our January workshop, the tentative plan is to have an outdoor soil preparation and repotting workshop at the Goleta Valley Community Center on 15 January from 9 to 2 (or until we run out of trees or soil). It’s tentative subject to the weather, the current COVID situation, and any GVCC/County/State restrictions and mandates.  Therefore, we will make the final call a few days before the 15th by email.

It will be a club run workshop so the price will be $25 to attend. BCSB members who became “Tree Guardians” at last October’s club meeting are encouraged to bring their club junipers to this workshop for repotting. There will be club-donated soil for these trees (and maybe a few more small trees) that you will be preparing yourselves.  If you want to repot your monster-sized Japanese Black Pine, you will need to bring your own soil and ceramic vessel. I will work with the former President (he knows who he is) to have a selection of small pots available that have been donated to the club over the years for the club junipers. It’s a little early for junipers, but with proper aftercare (which you will learn about at the workshop), the trees should be fine. This workshop will help everyone get fired up for the rest of the repotting season.  I don’t know about you folks, but I have about 50 trees to repot this year!

Best bonsai wishes for 2022!


Tuesday, January 11, 7-8:30 PM: Jeff Sczechowski, National Bonsai Show Photos

Bad news. This will be a Zoom event. Good news. You will not need to wear a mask.

Saturday, January 15, 9 Am To 2 PM: Repotting Workshop

Good news. This will an in-person event. Bad news. You will need to wear a mask. This workshop is still a bit tentative, so watch your email for updates.

New Year’s Resolution Number 311…

This year, I will sign up EARLY for the EACH WORKSHOP before they fill up. I will also limit my nightly wine consumption to less than one gallon, and I will go back to the gym as soon as I remember where it is located… Okay, well, at least I’ll do that first one. We hope to present an excellent line-up of workshop leaders this spring. As of right now, the Goleta Valley Community Center will only be open from 9 am – 2 pm daily. This mean there will only be one workshop per session. This could change if Covid subsides and GVCC finds enough employees to fully staff the facility. Sign up now for the first workshop and support the Club!

Also, our annual CLUB MEMBERSHIP dues are due in January:  $40 ($50 for families). Send your payments to BCSB, PO Box 3703, Santa Barbara 93130 or bring to the first workshop along with your workshop payment of $25. Thank you.

Last Meeting: Ann Erb, Needle-Pruning Black Pines

Candle Prune in June… Needle Prune during a full moon… Okay that’s not exactly what Ann said, but it made a nice rhyme. November is actually the preferred time to candle prune and Ann brought in several beautiful trees to demonstrate on. Old needles (usually 3-years-old) no longer feed the tree, but they do block sunlight and prevent some new needles from growing. It’s wise to wear gloves when needle pruning, as anyone who has stabbed themselves repeatedly will attest. It also prevents your fingers from sticking together from sap. If also wiring at the same time, Ann says it’s easy to wire your glove to the tree, if you are not careful. Having wired myself several times, I agree. When Ann grows pines from seedlings, she leaves them in the ground 6-8 years, but keeps the roots cut back by digging a circle around the trees. When repotting, she likes to use a mix of a third granular, a third acadama and a third scoria. Ann says she feeds her tree a lot in early spring then stops until new candles start in September/October. After candle pruning, Anna says you should go back in and reduce the new buds to two each.


Upcoming Bonsai Events

Lake Merrit PosterLake Merrit, CA Sale, February 19 & 20

Now is the time to submit your quality bonsai trees and items such as signature pots and custom-made display stands for the upcoming 2022 Mammoth Auction & Sale Fundraiser for the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt, Oakland, California. The 2022 Mammoth procedures and auction & sale forms are available at

Volunteers Wanted: Contact Bob Gould at 925-935-1914 or for more auction information. Contact Mike Mello, 510-886-1568 or Dennis Hawkins, 510-657-8229, for more sale information. Contact George Haas at 707-762-9154 or for all other volunteer positions.

Help make the 2022 Mammoth Fundraiser a success by donation or consignment quality bonsai related items. All auction items must be accepted by Jan 8, in order to be photographed and published in the auction catalog and posted online.

Shohin Seminar LogoBSBF Shohin Convention, February

The Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) Shohin Convention will take place 4-6 February 2022 in Santa Nella at the Hotel Mission de Oro.   Registration is now open. If you are interested in attending a workshop, the workshop slots are determined via a lottery process that begins by submitting your registration form ASAP. While it’s a bit of a drive to Santa Nella (which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere), I was pleasantly impressed with the Hotel Mission de Oro venue that hosted October’s Rendezvous and will host this Shohin Convention. The event rooms were attractive and included windows with real natural lighting (amazing, huh?), the hotel restaurant food was pretty decent, and I heard from friends that their rooms were recently and very nicely remodeled. To make the trip a little more interesting this time, I’m going to drive through Pinnacles National Park (or at least do it during daylight hours this time….).