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Steve Gibson, Shohin

Our Club shohin expert Steve Gibson says “colanders are not just for pasta.” Steve uses them as growing pots for his little trees in hopes they will grow up to be, well, little trees. The plastic colanders Steve uses are inexpensive and have more than ample drainage for his wee collection. Shohin literally means “bean” or little thing and are 6-8 inches tall. They are typically planted into small bonsai dishes for display purposes. Steve will tell us all about it at this month’s meeting at the Goleta Valley Community Center. Meet and greet begins at 7 p.m., the meeting at 7:30. See you all there!

Last Month – John Bleck, Succulents

Last month we had a lesson in Latin names, as John Bleck brought in dozens of succulents that he has bonsai-ed or is the process of bonsai-ing. I think John knows the Latin name of every plant in the world. I can proudly say, I now know two or three. The plants John brought in came from Mexico, South America, Africa and our own Southwest. Though his slideshow refused to work, no matter how many times we cursed at it in Latin, he did a great job talking about each specimen.

President’s Message: Summertime And The Pruning Is Easy (not!)

Summer’s here and my trees are growing faster than I can keep them pinched and pruned. Luckily a new semester of our Saturday workshops begins this month, so maybe I can make some headway into turning things around. If you haven’t previously participated in the workshops you really should give it a try. We are fortunate enough to get some of southern California’s best bonsai masters to lead them. The workshops are worth every penny they cost.

We have once again been invited to have a display at the Obon festival at the Santa Barbara Buddhist Church, 1815 Montecito Street. It’s inconveniently scheduled from 12:30 to 5:00 PM, July 20, the same date as our Saturday Workshop, but they have always received us with such enthusiasm that it’s a pleasure to show there. If you have any trees you are willing to display or are available to help at the event, which by the way is open to the public and is free, please let me know. See info and show poster on back page of the newsletter.

On the following Saturday, July 27, Ernie Witham is coordinating a bonsai display at Lotusland’s annual summer gala, Lotusland Celebrates. Ernie volunteers at Lotusland and he reports that the newly renovated Japanese Garden is delightful. If you’d like to attend, a table for 10 can be had for $7,500 or individual tickets are available for $750. I plan to provide Ernie with a tree or two for the exhibit, but, regretfully, I’ll probably spend the day elsewhere. More information here:

~ Joe

July 20: Fall Workshop Series Begins – $120 For 4 Workshops!

Fall workshops? It’s July? I know. But that’s when they start. Workshops are on the third Saturday in July, September, October and November. There will be two sessions with a maximum of 8 students per session. Morning session: 9 am to 12 noon. Afternoon session: 1 pm to 4 pm. at the Goleta Valley Community Center on Hollister. July’s workshop leader is Jim Barrett. Bring your trees. Please mail your check to the Club PO Box and indicate morning or afternoon sessions. First in, first served. Any question: e-mail Steve Gibson at or Tina Hammond at

Glen Griffin: Azalea Styling Workshop

If there is enough interest, I will organize an azalea styling session encompassing the following:

  1. A selection of pre-bonsai azaleas for each participant to style – most are “whips” about 3 years old in 8-11” pots.
  2. Printed material to use as a reference when creating the various styles
  3. A short review of the soil options, pest control, watering tips, bud control, repotting, etc.
  4. Summary of the reference material available on Satsuki Azaleas.
  5. Creation of styled bonsai – I will supply the wire and other items as needed.

Please contact me at We probably need about a minimum of 5 participants to make this happen. $10 fee for materials

Photos From Our Really Big Show

Here are some of the display tree photos from the Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara’s Annual Show and Sale in May. Excellent show with many visitors.

Obon Festival, Santa Barbara, July 20

Once again, our club has been asked to bring trees to the Buddhist Temple of Santa Barbara, 1015 East Montecito Street, for a bonsai display during their Obon Festival. If you would like to show a tree, please contact Joe Olson at It is a fun day with drumming dancing, food and more. The Temple says: “The Buddhist observance of Obon has its origins in the scripture Ullambana Sutra spoken by the Buddha. The sutras are the sacred scriptures of Buddhism, and serve as records of the interactions that the Buddha had with various people during the 45 years that he spent sharing the Dharma. The Ullambana Sutra describes an occasion when one of the Buddha’s two chief disciples, Mahamaudgalyayana (pronouced “Ma-ha-mode-gall-yaa-ya-na”), went to the Buddha seeking guidance. This ancient story is rich in meaning for us. It encourages us to be mindful of how the kindness and generosity of those who have come before continues to touch our lives in so many ways. This Obon season provides many opportunities for us to practice the Buddha’s teachings by showing kindness and generosity, or dana, for each other as we remember our departed loved ones. Some people practice dana by volunteering to plan fun games or perform beautiful music. Some show kindness by joining Buddhist Services and providing support and comfort for those who may still feel the natural sadness of parting as they remember a loved one who departed for the Other Shore.”