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Program: Susanne Barrymore On Drought-resistant Bonsai

You can’t turn on the TV news or open the newspaper without being reminded that we may be in for a whopper of an El Niño this winter. The bad news is that even if we do have one rainy winter, California will still be short of water and we can also be certain that, sooner or later, another drought lurks in our future. How should we bonsai enthusiasts respond? Other than “growing” suiseki, one possibility is to grow exceptionally drought-resistant plants, and that’s exactly what Susanne’s presentation will be about. Come to see and hear just what some of those plants might be and how to grow and train them. Also, if you have any exceptionally drought-resistant plants that you think might be suitable for bonsai, please bring them to share with the group.

For newer members who don’t yet know Susanne well, here is a short bio: Susanne got started in bonsai about 1960, and in 1971 she was one of the founding members of our club. She has created some great trees over the years, perhaps most notably the grove of elms on permanent display at the National Bonsai Museum in Washington, DC, shown in the picture, and a Zelkova grove on permanent display at the Huntington in San Marino. Both of these groves are planted on artificial rock slabs, or “Su-ishi” as Susanne calls them, which she made. Susanne also makes beautiful oriental scrolls, one of which usually hangs in the tokonoma at our annual show.

And don’t forget that after the evening’s presentation, we will again raffle off two bonsai pots that have been donated to the club.

President’s Message:

Tom at the Presidio

As we near the close of another year, it is a great time to start planning for the following year. Ann Erb started us off with her presentation on planning a year, or more, ahead for our show trees. If you haven’t shown a tree before, I encourage you to make the leap into preparing a tree to be shown. Besides the tree, there are pots, stands, companions, different wiring and other esthetic choices to be aware of. These matters broaden your horizons as to the “art” of bonsai. A great start to this venture is to participate in our Saturday workshops. They offer experienced opinions as to the possibilities of the material you bring in.

We are looking to upgrade the “look” of our physical layout of our show for the upcoming year. More on that in a month or so.

We have several members who are attending the Convention in Riverside (YEA!) and I am looking forward to hearing about their experiences in the following months.

~ Tom

Last Month: Ann Erb On Show Preparation

Ann gave us lots of good advice regarding show preparation and about bonsai care in general.

Here are just a few tidbits from her presentation: Ideally, we should start preparing a show tree at least a year before it is to be shown. Prune heavily, if needed, and do major work the year before the show and then do minimal work to refine the tree in spring. Repot in the spring before the show. Some unobtrusive wire is ok. Leave more needles on pines than you normally would, and candle length should be even throughout the tree. Fertilize early but don’t overdo nitrogen before the show—you don’t want to encourage long vigorous growth at this time.

And here’s some of Ann’s advice that is valid for any tree regardless of whether you plan to show it or not: Our water is often too alkaline. She recommends testing your water with an easily available pH test kit, then, using a Miracle Gro type sprayer or just a watering can, add a little common white vinegar until the water coming from the sprayer or in the watering can has a pH of about 6.5. Your plants will benefit greatly from getting this water once a week or so. She also recommends keeping a mulch such as gravel or sphagnum moss (not peat moss) on the soil in your pots and removing and replacing it and the top layer of soil each fall.

The picture shows Ann contemplating Tom Post’s Brazilian Sky Flower.

Asian American Neighborhood Festival

On October 11 the club once again had a display of bonsai at the annual Asian American Neighborhood Festival at the Santa Barbara Presidio. Wally Kunimoto, Andrew Nelson, and Joe Olson had trees on display. At left are shown Wally Kunimoto, Tom Post, and Stephen Yee, with Keith Mautino’s black pine on the display table. At right is Wally’s juniper, the hit of the show.

Coming Events:

November 14: Bonsai Club Of Santa Barbara: 2nd Saturday Workshop With Ann Erb.

9:30 AM until 12:30 PM, Room 8, Goleta Valley Community Center.

November 16: Bonsai Club Of Arroyo Grande

Arroyo Grande Bonsai Club logoThe club meets from 7-9 PM on the third Monday of each month at the Arroyo Grande American Legion Hall, 417 Orchard Ave., Arroyo Grande. George Muranaka of Muranaka Bonsai nursery will be leading the Monday meetings. Club website:

November 21: Bonsai Club Of Santa Barbara: 3rd Saturday Workshop With Guest Instructor.

9 AM until noon or 1 to 4 PM., Room 7, Goleta Valley Community Center. Jim Barrett, guest instructor.

December 20 (Sunday) Annual Holiday Party

At Keith Mautino’s house. Details and map in next month’s newsletter. No Tuesday evening meeting or Saturday workshops in December.

Dec. 26-jan. 3, 2016 (closed New Year’s day)

Annual Aiseki Kai Show At The Huntington, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. The California Aiseki Kai presents its 26th annual show featuring more than 100 outstanding examples of suiseki and other viewing stones. Brody Botanical Center. Free entry to exhibit with club badge.