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President’s Message: December is Holiday Potluck!

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our 25th annual holiday potluck and raffle on Sunday, December 15 at 11 Am To 2 Pm at my house, assuming the weather cooperates. I’ve enjoyed this week’s rain, but let’s hope for nice weather on the 15th. If it’s as cold and rainy that day as it is right now as I’m writing this, we may have to reschedule the party as a Welcome-to-the-New-Year event. Keep your fingers crossed. I’ll keep you posted.

2020 should be another good year for the club. Steve Gibson has done his usual good job of lining up Tuesday evening presentations and Saturday workshop guest instructors, and our annual show is once again scheduled at Trinity Lutheran Church on May 30-31. A new semester of third Saturday classes starts in January. Returnees need no encouragement, but if you’ve never yet participated you really should consider it. Instructors are first rate.

I’ll be term-limited out as president at the end of 2020. By then either our late friend Tom Post or I will have been president for 16 of the previous 20 years and it’ll be way past time to get someone new and much younger in the job. I’m hoping we can find a willing “volunteer” sometime in the next 12 months.

Address for the Holiday Potluck


Last Month: Plucking Along With Ann Erb

In the Beatle’s song “Yesterday” there is a line that goes: “I’m not half the man I used to be, there’s a shadow hanging over me…” When Ann Erb gives a demo the song often changes to: “I’m not half the tree I used to be, there’s a pruner hanging over me…” Ann gave a detailed demonstration on needle pruning pine trees and when she finished there was a lot more foliage on the table than on her black pine. A couple of large branches were considerably shorter, too. November is a good time to needle prune, Ann told us. If it is done sooner new needles can become too soft. It also gives the tree a couple of months to rest before wiring the branches in January or February. “Always take more needles off your tree than you think you need, so new growth doesn’t just fill in what you have.” Ann suggests leaving just 6-8 pairs of needles per candle. If you still have a lot of large needles, you can cut them rather than pluck them so that you don’t pull out all the new buds living between needle sets. Ann also suggests fertilizing pines in February, March and April, then again in September and October. She likes to use Dr. Earth 5-5-5 and she puts it into the pot a little deeper for better root growth. She also told us when wiring to wire all the tips up for energy. The tree did have much better structure after trimming and pruning, though it will have a few years to go before it is ready to show. It also seemed to be shivering a bit without all those needles, but that could be because It’s waiting for… “Summertime, and the living is easy…”

All I Want For Christmas Is…

A partridge in a pear tree? Two turtle doves? Three French hens? Nah, those gifts are for the birds. This year ask your significant other for… FOUR SPRING WORKSHOPS. That’s right, for approximately the price of a pair of reindeer PJs and matching slipper socks ($140) you can enjoy the expertise of bonsai pros who will present workshops in January, February, March and April at our usual location at the Goleta Valley Community Center. They will help you design, prune and wire your trees. They can even help you find the front of your tree and the best angle to repot it for displaying at our May show. Plus, they always make learning a fun experience.

We have space for 8 participants in the Morning session (9 am – noon) and 8 in the Afternoon session (1 pm to 4 pm,) so please sign up early using the form accompanying this newsletter. Individual workshops, if space is available, are $40 per workshop, so you save $10 per workshop by signing up for all four now.

Also, our annual CLUB MEMBERSHIP dues are due in January. For just $35 per year (used specifically to meet expenses for the GVCC meeting room and two or three outside Tuesday evening presenters) you get to support the #1 bonsai club in all of Santa Barbara and Goleta! Your trees will thank you. Send your payments to our PO Box or bring to the first Club meeting of the year.

Upcoming Bonsai Events Near You

January 18 – 19, 2020 Arcadia, California

Baikoen Bonsai Kenkyukai, “Winter Silhouettes”, 56th Annual Exhibition, at the Los Angeles Arboretum, Ayres Hall of Environmental Education, located at 301 North Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, CA 91007. Show hours on both days are 10am to 4:30pm. Deciduous bonsai in all their leafless glory are featured from club members and invited guests. The Nagata-Komai award winner will be announced, 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.

For more information, please visit or email Ken Teh at

January 31 – February 2, 2020 Santa Nella, California

California Shohin Society Seminar 2020: held at the Hotel de Oro Conference Center, Santa Nella, California. Benefit from the knowledge of several illuminati of the America Bonsai world. There will be multiple demonstrations over the three days of the seminar. This is the best gathering of America Bonsai experts and please remember they are donating their time to keep your costs down. If you plan to attend the hospitality suite either Friday or Saturday please consider bringing some liquid refreshment and/or a treat to share. Reservations for the Hotel de Oro should be made soon. Filling hotel rooms helps keep the overall Seminar costs within reach. Please mention the Shohin Seminar when you are making your reservations.

For questions, concerns, or to obtain more registration forms, email Randi at calshohin@yahoo.

Final Thoughts…

Laughing olive trees at Kew Garden

So, I was at Kew Gardens in London, England and I saw three straight, droopy, rather sad looking olive trees standing in a circle, so I asked if they wanted to hear an olive joke I found on the Internet. They said yes. So I told them this one…
A guy sits down at the bar and orders a Martini with two olives… bartender gives him the drink, he takes out the two olives, puts them aside on a napkin, drinks the martini, asks for another. By the fourth Martini with two olives, the bartender asks the man “I don’t mind, but I gotta ask….why do you ask for a Martini with two olives, then take the two olives out of it?” The man replies “My wife sent me to the store for a jar of olives but the store was closed.” When I left Kew Gardens, the olive trees were still laughing.


“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Chinese proverb