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Saturday March 14: Mel Ikeda

It was the unique experience for Mel Ikeda to growing up around Harry Hirao, Khan Komai, John Naka, Kenji Miyata and others who eventually became his teachers. Mel conducts demonstrations throughout the United States and was a headliner at the 2009 Bonsai Ohana II Convention in Hawaii. He is active in many clubs, serving on their boards as well as that of the Golden State Bonsai Federation, where he performs live demonstrations at Bonsai-a-Thon each year, as well as at our annual show in May. Mel generously donates the final results of his demos for our raffle. Mel will lead two workshops in March: 9 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 4 pm. For space availability contact Steve Gibson at

President’s Message: Marching Forward

I’m very pleased to be this month’s presenter. I get to blather on about one of my favorite topics: Oaks, both as bonsai and as “real” trees growing in the ground. I hope you find it interesting. Every year in March I look at the calendar and am always surprised to realize that the club’s biggest event of the year, our annual show, is only a little over two months away and it’s time to get serious about finding a tree or two to enter. I’d like to see entries from as many members as possible! Once again, the show will take place in Fellowship Hall at Trinity Lutheran Church, this year on May 30-31. We will again have an informal Trees-in-Training table for any member to exhibit trees in any state of training. And of course, we’ll have a plant sale and we will be looking for donations for the Silent Auction. Mel Ikeda will demo on Saturday and Ann Erb on Sunday.

Last Month: Ann Erb – The Art Of Repotting

I always learn a lot during demonstrations from experts who have been creating bonsai for a long time. Like Club member and Show designer, Ann Erb. I listen to all the advice and then try to incorporate as much as I can into my own procedures. I might have to draw the line on one of Ann’s suggestions, though. “I bake my old soil in the oven so that I can reuse it. I use inexpensive turkey roasters covered with aluminum foil and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.” I can’t imaging my wife thinking this was a good use of our kitchen. “Wait. You never, ever cook, and now you finally want to use the stove for baking old lava rocks?” Hmmm good point. Of course I don’t have as many trees to repot as Ann does. Ann uses lava rocks, acadama and crushed granite (not decomposed) in her mix. When potting a tree for the first time, Ann takes off half the soil. She then takes off a quarter more of the soil during each repot. She suggests using copper wire to tie trees into the pot because it stretches less than aluminum. She waits a month after repotting a tree before she fertilizes. She likes Dr. Earth 5-5-5. During the 90-minute demo, Ann repotted 3 trees — a eugenia, juniper and a shohin elm.

Upcoming Events:

March 28 And 29 – San Jose, California

San Jose Betsuin Bonsai Club: 49th Annual Spring Exhibit at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, 640 North Fifth Street. Hours are 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM Saturday and Noon – 4:00 PM Sunday. Demonstration at 1:00 PM, both days Bonsai trees and pots for sale. For further information, call Bob Shatsky (408) 353-3239 or Susan Yea (408) 464-7340.

May 30-31 – Bonsai Club Of Santa Barbara Annual Show And Sale

Our big show is only a couple months away! Once again, Ron Bereman will be bringing lots of trees to sell. Members are also encouraged to bring bonsai-related items for sale. We also need donated items for our silent auction. And, of course, we need volunteers to help man the sales table and set-up and tear-down the show. We need your best trees for display. Remember, we also have a trees-in-process table for those trees not quite ready.

Tuesday March 10, 7:30 Pm: Joe Olson ­– Oaks

There are 450 or so species of oak in the world. I haven’t yet tried to grow all of them, but with varying degrees of success I have attempted all the native California oaks I have been able to get my hands on as well as a number of species from other areas of the world. My presentation will be a show and-tell of my efforts to date including both successes and failures. One absolutely unbiased objective conclusion is that every bonsai collection in our area should include at least one Coast Live Oak and at least one Cork Oak. Also, as an unrepentant tree-hugger I will include some of the natural history of these trees which I hope you will find as fascinating as I do.  For Those who manage to stay awake, alert, and interested until the end of my presentation there will be a raffle of a Coast Live Oak. See you there!

World’s Oldest Living Man Grew And Shaped Bonsai

Don’t get angry and “keep a smile on your face.” That’s the secret to living a long life, according to 112-year-old Chitetsu Watanabe of Niigata, Japan.
Guinness World Records has confirmed that Watanabe is the oldest living man. He was born on March 5, 1907, and is the oldest brother to seven siblings. Watanabe was presented with the official certificate recently by Guinness World Records Japan’s Country manager Kaoru Ishikawa at his nursing home in Niigata. He spent 18 years in Taiwan after graduating from agricultural school, where he married his wife, Mitsue. He’s the father of five children. He worked at an agricultural office until he retired.
Retirement didn’t stop him from being active, however. In 1974, he and his son built a new family home and grew vegetables and fruit there until Watanabe was 104. Until about a decade ago, Watanabe grew and shaped small bonsai trees. His work was even exhibited.

Librarian’s Corner: Susanne Barrymore

“The Gardener’s Book of Pests and Diseases” Dr. Roland Fox, and
Sunset Garden Pests and Diseases.

Both books have many good pictures, and useful information. I especially remember when we were all warned about Adelgid, the fuzzy white covering on a very small organism which feeds on the base of needles. Only the Dr. Fox book had an article about Adelgid. I remember well when Roy Nagatoshi’s father took me to see one of his very good pines, which was dying from something, and there was considerable concern among bonsai artists who had Japanese black pine, that not knowing what it was. When Roy was here recently I mentioned this, and thought it was Adelgid. But Roy reminded me of Needle cast, which was caused by a fungus, and was new at that time. Neither book mentions it. When I mentioned to John Bleck I was  planning this book report, John said there are often new pest and disease controls available, and we have to seek out new controls for some of the old well established pests and diseases. As an example, I put Japanese black pine needle cast into Google, and immediately learned there are four fungi which can cause this, and five different pdf items were indicated as resources. Pest and disease books may be obsolete, and by removal provide more room in our library.