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President’s Message:  Happy New Year!! 

If you missed our Annual Holiday Party, it was a real humdinger! Carol and Sandy did an outstanding job with the party set-up. Good food and a good time were had by all. Ernie has a more detailed report on the festivities below. We also have an update from our former VP, Allan Hemmy. Allan is learning a whole lot about trying to grow bonsai (especially tropicals) in a not-very-tropical Lawrence, KS.

Let’s kick 2023 off with a bang! For our January meeting on Tuesday, the 10th, we are having a mini-workshop where attendees will do the preliminary design work on some basic nursery stock which will become our next generation of trees that we will sell through the Lotusland gift shop.  We did this in October 2021 and had a blast.  More details on this impromptu mini-workshop are below.

On the next day, January 11th, club members were invited to tour the sculpture museum and botanic gardens of “The Hermitage”. We received this invitation courtesy of the work that Wally, Mark, Ernie, Edgar, and yours truly did on repotting the tropical bonsai in their collection last summer. Ernie sent an announcement email. If you missed the email, the announcement is listed below. 

For the 3rd Saturday of the month (the 21st) instead of a workshop, we are planning a club field trip to the 59th Annual Winter Silhouettes Show at the Live Oak Park Community Center in Temple City, southeast of Pasadena. Carol Hicks has been working very hard to find a charter coach company that will drive BCSB members to the event. More information on this is below.  
Finally, it’s time to get down and dirty with repotting season. I typically start with pines, Mediterranean broad-leaf evergreens (coast live oaks), and deciduous in January and February. Next, I move on to Junipers in February and March. Then I move on to elongating species (redwoods, dawn redwoods, spruces, yews, etc.).  If you start repotting early, you need to protect your trees from temperatures below 40 degrees. January and early February is also a great time for heavy styling maneuvers like big bends and big pruning. However, unless you are VERY experienced, don’t combine this heavy styling with an immediate repot as this is too much stress on the tree. 

January 10th Meeting: Styling Junipers To Sell

Last October, a dozen of us gathered together to begin the process of turning nursery stock junipers into trees for future sales at our show and at the Lotusland Gift Shop, where we have a profit-sharing agreement. Led by Daniel Martinez, who gave us a short lecture on finding the tree within the mass of foliage and branches, we were each given a one-gallon “bush” and over the next two hours pruned them and wired them into a variety of styles. Daniel and Jeff worked with Club members (guardians, per Jeff) to help in the initial decision-making. Club members were encouraged to bring these early efforts to the November meeting for additional suggestions on wiring and pruning. Later, members removed the wires, continued to shape through branch trimming, jin formation, and pruning, and put them into bonsai pots. Some were selected for immediate sale, others were sold at Lotusland later in the year. Altogether we have sold 7 trees through the Lotusland Gift Shop, adding more than $300 to the Club treasury. They are anxious for more trees beginning in February when Lotusland opens to the public for the 2023 season. So, we are going to have another session and you are welcome to attend! You can learn how to begin styling raw stock, how to wire, prune and create jin and shari. If you don’t feel quite comfortable actually preparing a tree, you can still learn a lot by observing and working with one of the members who is styling a tree. This class promises to be a lot of fun. We will meet at our regular spot at Bethany Congregational Church on Hope Avenue at 7pm for socializing and 7:30 to get started on the trees. See you all there!  Ernie

January 11th: Trip To The Hermitage: 1 PM -3 PM (or so)

As some of you may know, we have been working with the Hermitage, repotting their bonsai collection. As a result, the Hermitage is offering our Club a couple of free visits. The first of which is coming right up on January 11. The first visit is limited, so if you are interested contact Carol Hicks ASAP. The Hermitage is unique – to say the least – art collection on a large piece of hilly property. We will be walking the grounds. Here is a link to the website: Again, please contact Carol immediately if interested and if you are willing to drive and take a passenger of two. Directions will be given when you sign up.   Ernie

January 21th: Trip To The Winter Silhouette Show: Temple City 

We are planning a Saturday trip to the 2023 Winter Silhouette Show on January 21st. The Club will be renting a bus (and driver) so that we can all travel there together and save gas and the frustration of driving into the abyss of Los Angeles. We are asking for $20 per person to help defray some of the cost, which is still cheaper than you could drive there yourself unless you have an electric car or are a fast bicyclist. Admission is free and Carol has located several convenient restaurants (no host). There will be a demonstration at 1:00 pm by Steve Valentine. There is also a sales area with plants, pots, tools, and more. There are always some incredible trees at this show and the artists who created them are often there to answer questions and tell you the history of their trees. If you would like to attend please contact Carol Hicks ASAP as the bus does have limited seating. There is no workshop in January.

Last Month’s Potluck, Raffle, and Auction

Christmas came early for Club members. Some won trees and pots in our raffle. Others made big bucks selling their trees at our first (annual? semi-annual?) auction. The auction, led by Club President, Jeff Sczechowski — who referred to himself a couple of times as Jeff S, indicating a long-held theory I’ve had that even he can’t pronounce his last name — benefitted from someone who started most of the bidding (me) and someone who kept outbidding me while laughing a bit maniacally (Terri Clay). I didn’t go home empty-handed, though. “You bought a grouping of skinny sticks and a hunk of deadwood?” my wife asked. “Ahhh…” I explained. The raffle ($165) and auction ($140 on 27 transactions) raised some much-needed funds for the Club. Even before the monetary action, people enjoyed a myriad of food choices, drinks, and desserts. One more highlight of the day was the presentation of a nice set of tools and a certificate to our youngest Club member Phaedra Watt (Phae) for styling and potting a juniper that was the first one from our Club to sell at the Lotusland Gift Shop, one of our newest partners. Special thanks To Danny Martinez for taking these great action photos.    Ernie

Upcoming Events

Bay Area Bonsai Associates Show at the GSBF Collection at Lake Merritt. 

Lake Merritt GSBF Collection

Saturday, January 14th (open 4pm-9pm) and Sunday, January 15th 11 am – 4pm. Special Presentation Saturday at 6:30pm with Daisaku Nomoto (Japan) and Jonas Dupuich (USA). Free admission to 40+ high-quality Bonsai for your viewing pleasure! Bonsai Sale on both days. For more information: Email:

59th Baikoen Bonsai Kenkyukai Winter Silhouette Show and Sale. 

Sat, Jan 21 at Temple City Live Oak Park Community Show & Sales with a demonstration at 1pm on both days. Deciduous bonsai are featured by club members and invited guests. The Nagata-Komai award will be presented, and there will be a demonstrator at 1pm on both days. There will be a sales area with club and vendor plants, pots, tools, and more.

Sergio Cuan – GSBF Golden Zoom Series. 

Jan 23, 2023, 6:30 PM PST. It’s free and only open to members of GSBF Clubs (which includes BCSB members)

18th Biennial Shohin Seminar. Fri, Feb 03 in  Santa Nella, CA

The only event of its kind in the U.S. Every two years the California Shohin Society organizes a Shohin  Seminar in Santa Nella, California, where bonsai masters, teachers,  students, and general enthusiasts from all over the country gather to learn and share their love of Shohin bonsai. The goal of the Seminar is two-fold: To provide a low-cost, learning-rich environment for those who want to learn more about Shohin bonsai, and to raise money for the Golden State Bonsai Federation’s Bonsai Collection.  The Shohin Seminar is a major source of funding for the care and evolution of these collections.

GSBF Bonsai-a-Thon, February 25-26, 2023

GSBF is pleased to announce that a date has been set for their upcoming Bonsai-a-Thon at The Huntington on Saturday and Sunday, February 25-26, 2023. Mark your calendar for a weekend of festivities.

Annual Mammoth Auction & Sale at Lake Merritt (near Oakland) 

Feb 18, 2023, 12:00 PM – Feb 19, 2023, 3:00 PM. Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA 94610, USA

Bonsai Trial By Fire Ice

Some club members inquired how my trees fared during the move, so I thought I’d send an update. In late June we drove our 26 ft box truck east to Kansas, loaded up with all our belongings, my trees, and what I can only hope is a near-lifetime supply of akadama. I was worried about how hot the box would get as we drove across the desert, but I think the temperature was buffered by the large mass of household items which was stacked to the ceiling.

I separated the back ¼ of the truck with plastic and left open a cooler with dry ice and a battery-powered fan to move air. Despite driving through desert temperatures of over 110 F, the back didn’t heat past the low-90s F. All my trees and plants survived the move but I’m guessing that some wished they hadn’t as within a couple of weeks of arriving we were well into the dog days of summer with a few days of 102 F-103 F highs. Everything had afternoon shade for those hottest days and my ficus absolutely loved the hot and humid days. I had growth rates, unlike anything I had in comparatively cool Ventura. It was short-lived, however, as by mid-Oct. We had some unseasonably cold spells that forced everything into the garage until the cold frames could be built.

On the advice of more winter-experienced practitioners, I built two insulated cold frames against the north side of the house rather than plastic-covered greenhouses. One is a simple concrete block enclosure and the other is a large plywood box both lined with solid foam insulation. The block cold frame has soil heating cables in the floor so that I can get an early jump on conifer repotting. I was cautioned to not put the trees away too early as they need exposure to the colder temperatures to gain cold hardiness. But once I could no longer take the thought of my babies in that cold, they were all watered and sprayed down with a dormant oil spray before going into the structures. They were then buried above the pot in wood chips for additional insulation.

It appears that the general consensus is that keeping the roots above 20 F is sufficient protection for most of the winter hardy trees. It wasn’t long before my cold frames were really put to the test as we experienced the arctic blast felt by much of the country. We had 36 hrs of temperatures below 0F and it went all the way down to -6 F! It was 3 straight days before the temperature even got back up to our average December low of 25 F. Amazingly the air temperature inside the blanket and plastic-wrapped cold frames never went below low 20s F and the mulch stayed above freezing.

Now here we are just over a week later and the cold frames are open and we are in the 50-60s F all week. I guess that’s my welcome to the wild extremes of the Midwest. I should also mention that all the tropical and “Mediterranean-climate” trees (olives, live oaks, etc.) have their own heated rooms in the garage with fancy LED lights. It has been a nice green oasis in contrast to the browns and greys of the wintery outdoors. Hopefully, this serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of moving east of Interstate 5. I hope everyone and their trees are doing well. Happy New Year!   Allan