2017 Regular Meeting Notes

Please find links below to the PDF notes for our regular meetings. This page will be updated as new documents are prepared by our 2017 club president, Gordon Van Wechel. Thanks Gordon!

January 2017 Albuquerque Bonsai Club Notes
Bonsai Soil & Substrate, Pot Cleaning, Learning Opportunities

February 2017 Albuquerque Bonsai Regular Meeting Notes

Ramification

March 2017 Albuquerque Bonsai Club Regular Meeting Notes
“Un-wintering” Bonsai, Preparing Show Trees, Kusamono

April 2017 Bonsai Club Regular Meeting Notes
Bill Wawrychuk’s Useless Bonsai Tips

May 2017 Bonsai Club Regular Meeting Notes
Mother’s Day Weekend Exhibition Preparation

Bonsai Links


ORGANIZATIONS

American Bonsai Society http://www.absbonsai.org/

Bonsai Clubs International http://www.bonsai-bci.com/

US National Bonsai and Penjing Museum http://www.usna.usda.gov/

Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) http://www.gsbf-bonsai.org/

National Bonsai Foundation http://www.bonsai-nbf.org/


DISCUSSION GROUPS

Internet Bonsai Club http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/

Art of Bonsai Project http://www.artofbonsai.org/


MAGAZINES

Bonsai Focus (English edition) http://bonsaifocus.com/

International Bonsai http://www.internationalbonsai.com/


BONSAI NURSERIES

Dallas Bonsai Garden (Al wire, tools) http://www.dallasbonsai.com/

Adams Bonsai (Cu wire) http://www.adamsbonsai.com/

Deer Meadow Bonsai (Cu wire, plants) http://www.jimgremel.com/bonsaihomepage.html

Bonsai Northwest (Seattle) (plants, pots) http://www.bonsainw.com/


ARTICLES

http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/

Bonsai Links

Resources

Organizations

Albuquerque Bonsai Club (ABC) http://abqbonsaiclub.com/

American Bonsai Society http://www.absbonsai.org/

Bonsai Clubs International http://www.bonsai-bci.com/

US National Bonsai and Penjing Museum http://www.usna.usda.gov/

Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) http://www.gsbf-bonsai.org/

National Bonsai Foundation http://www.bonsai-nbf.org/

Discussion Groups

Internet Bonsai Club http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/

Art of Bonsai Project http://www.artofbonsai.org/

Bonsai Magazines

Bonsai Focus (English edition) http://bonsaifocus.com/

International Bonsai http://www.internationalbonsai.com/

Bonsai Nurseries

Dallas Bonsai Garden (Al wire, tools) http://www.dallasbonsai.com/

Adams Bonsai (Cu wire) http://www.adamsbonsai.com/

Deer Meadow Bonsai (Cu wire, plants)http://www.jimgremel.com/bonsaihomepage.html

Bonsai Northwest (Seattle) (plants, pots) http://www.bonsainw.com/

Articles

http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/

Suiseki: Previously Unnoticed Stones Turn Into Magnificent Art

Bonsai in January

This is our middle of winter, and it can get cold. The average high temperature is 46 degrees; the average low is 23 degrees. Records are 69 degrees for the high and -17 degrees for the low. Relative humidity is 53%. On warmer days of 40 degrees or above, the cold frame can be opened to allow circulation of fresh air. Also, a wet snow does them good, but close the cold frame before nightfall.

Watering: Albuquerque’s climate is predominately in Zone 10 and considered high desert which is hot daytime temperatures and cool to very cold nights. The low relative humidity, high altitude, and high winds contribute to the desiccation of container grown trees. DO NOT allow the bonsai to dry out even in winter. Dormant trees in a cold frame do not use much water. Every ten days to two weeks should be enough, but check every week to be sure. Water trees planted in the ground once a week to ten days when the dirt has thawed, usually around noon. DO NOT water frozen bonsai.

Fertilizing: This is a good month to apply a light (2 strength) solution of MirAcid to neutralize the alkaline soil and watering done from the city tap. The “sitting” water barrel is now frozen and inaccessible. Apply fertilizer or any chemical to moist soil to prevent root damage.

Spraying: Dormant spray both in cold frame and in ground if the temperatures are not too severely cold outside. Bonsai may be brought indoors for display for a short period of time, but place them in the coolest place available.

Helpful Equipment: 2 whiskey barrel to let water sit and add conditioners small rose watering can quart sized zip lock bags for soil mixtures

Bonsai in February

The last month of the calendar winter. The weather is similar to January. The nights will still be below freezing. Toward the end of the month, there are some warm, balmy, spring days. Close the cold frame or the trees get too warm and start budding. The average high for the month is 52 degrees; average low is 27 degrees. The record high is 75 degrees and record low -6 degrees. Relative humidity around 48%.

Watering: As in January, DO NOT allow the bonsai to dry out. Dormant trees in a cold frame do not use much water. Every ten days to two weeks should be enough, but check every week to be sure. Water trees planted in the ground once a week to ten days when the dirt has thawed, usually around noon. DO NOT water frozen bonsai.  Toward end of month on warm days the planted trees may need more frequent watering.

Fertilizing: Once during the month add small amount of MirAcid to the water again and a weak solution (2 recommended) of 5-50-17 fertilizer. No nitrogen yet.

Spraying: Not necessary.

Repotting: At end of month, the warm weather may have started the Japanese Maples and other deciduous trees to swell before budding. If they need repotting this year, do it before the buds open. Put them back in the cold frame after repotting. Prepare soil mixtures for repotting the next two months. If you use any garden dirt, bake it at 150N for 1 hour to kill snail eggs, pill bugs, and weed seeds. Soil mixtures may be found in Naka’s Bonsai Techniques I. Add a bit more peat moss to hold water in our drier climate.

 

Spirit of Bonsai

By Kyuzo Murata

(with condensation and setting by Khan Komai)

            The summer of 1975 saw the venerable 73-year old bonsai master, Kyuzo Murata, appear on the scene of American bonsai and move across the country in whirlwind fashion.

            He spoke to the people in Japanese with a written English translation following, and everywhere as the cry, “Is there a copy of the talk?”, so much he said seemed so meaningful.

            There was no copy of the translation except the one he carried, and it was months later before copies were sent from Japan by Murata long with his permission to use any or all of the material.

            To take parts of the talk and call them more meaningful than others may be a sacrilege, but here are some excerpts from the speech.

            “Bonsai is living plant transferred to a pot or tray or on a rock or stone so that it can continue to live semi-permanently.  It has not only a natural beauty of the particular plant but the appearance reminds people of something other than the plant itself.  It could be a scene, a forest, or a part of a forest, a lone tree in the field, a seascape, a lake, a river or a stream or a pond.  It is also possible that a certain appearance reminds you of wind blowing over these scenes.

            “In Japan the definition of bonsai is to create a natural scene on a tray using plants as the main material.”

            “When you take a hachiuye, or potted plant, you can only see ‘prettiness of the plant or flower’ and it does not remind you of anything else. It is possible, however, to change the hachiuye… into bonsai.”

            “The art of bonsai was developed in Japan where there were four seasons, clear water and clean air…, a 1500-year history, many old, unchanging traditions and customs.  Among all these things the art of bonsai has grown to be what it is today.”

            “We must not forget that the unique conception of what we call beauty in Japan is a little different from the western conception of beauty.”

            “I do not think that bonsai could have developed or survived in the tropical or frigid zones…. Bonsai’s association with the change of seasons, mountains, valleys, rivers, waters, lakes, storms, gentle winds, rains, snow, frost and many other phenomena is far more important than one can imagine.  Japan is one of the few fortunate countries that has all these things.”

            “I believe bonsai should not be a mere sketch of a scene or a three-dimensional exhibit from a photograph or a scene.  It is… all right to use nature as your subject, but your goal should be a sketch which has been refined and trimmed in your mind before you start creating.  Only then can you call it art (and)… bonsai can be defined as a union of nature and art.”

            “The Noh play or ballet expresses its movement in a relatively short time, on the other hand, you can hardly notice the slow growth of bonsai.  The object of bonsai is to simulate nature.  Nature expresses eternity in very, very slow movement and bonsai demonstrates this concept of the slow process of nature.”

            “When your concept of bonsai comes this far, then you cannot avoid going into the world of ‘wabi’ or ‘sabi’.”

            “It is an almost impossible task to try to explain (the) meaning of wabi or sabi because they are concepts of feeling which were created and actually only felt by the Japanese people over many, many generations and they were unknown to westerners until recently.

            “Wabi is a state of mind, or a place or environment in tea ceremony or in haiku.  It is a feeling of great simplicity, quiet yet dignified.”

            “Sabi is a feeling of simplicity and quietness which comes from something that is old and used over and over again.”

            For instance, picture yourself standing at a corner of Ryoanji’s stone garden in Kyoto in the evening in late autumn in a misty rain.  You are viewing the garden: the next moment you close your eyes and are deep in thought.  Actually there is nothing in your mind.  It is empty, and yet your mind, and your heart is filled with a certain contentment.  That feeling is wabi.

            “I firmly believe the final goal of creating bonsai is to create the feeling of wabi or sabi in bonsai.  This is the ultimate goal of the art of bonsai… I cannot help thinking that the essence of philosophy is to seek truth, virtue, and beauty; and it so happens that these are the essence of bonsai.”

            “The feeling of wabi or sabi is something almost stoic which eventually leads us to Zen Buddhism.”

            “They are not easy going feelings, they are very disciplined feelings.  It is quiet but severe.  The feeling is common among people who are very religions and people who create bonsai.  I think this feeling is love, love for the trees, love for human beings.”

            “Bonsai is a strange art wherein one can produce a feeling of reality of nature by manipulation, over a long period of time of trees, stones, rocks, trays or pots.  And every bonsai is an original.  No two bonsai are alike.”

            “You can never finish or complete the creation of bonsai.  It goes on and on forever.”

            “In the art of bonsai there is no particular school for teaching techniques as you have in flower arrangement…. Limiting your bonsai technique to a certain style is to ignore the physiology of the tree.”

            “If you try to enforce your own particular design on a tree without considering its nature, the tree may eventually die. You need to understand this limitation….”

            “A truly fine bonsai depends basically on three factors: natural light, air, and water.”

            “…trees in bonsai trays… are, I believe the longest living plants which you help to grow and sustain with love and which share your joys and sorrows.”

            “They say the life span of an average cherry tree in nature is about 120 years, but it is not rare to see much older cherry trees as bonsai.”

            “It becomes a sort of religion when you start loving a bonsai which has a much longer life span than your own.”

            “I have been with bonsai every day for the past 60 years, and I come across problems almost every day about fertilizers, about uetsuchi, or soil for planting, about watering, about stones or rocks, about wiring.”

            “Recently I have come to my own conclusion that the most challenging technique in the art of bonsai is to transform a most unnatural looking tree into a most natural looking tree.”

            “For instance, there is a famous zelkova… created by Mr. Ogata (who)… severed the main trunk… and created a totally new look.  When I first saw it at the… Kokufukai Exhibition, I laughed at it, (but over the years it has become) recognized as one of the finest bonsai in Japan.”

            “It really is a strange looking tree.  You would never find such an unnatural looking tree in the world, yet it looks exactly like a huge zelkova tree standing alone and strong in the field.”

            (As in the) art of calligraphy,  you can have two ways of writing alphabets, capital letters and small letters.  I think we can apply the same variation to bonsai.  When you try to sketch the natural scenery, you may use either capital letters or small letters because the basic goal is the same, but your method of approaching this goal is different.  This is the area in which you can express your feeling freely.

            But “again I wish to emphasize that bonsai is not a mere sketch of nature but a reflection of the heart of its creator.”

            “Ladies and gentlemen, please create your own Americanized bonsai and fill this world with peaceful art.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Bonsai in March

This is a tricky month. The average high temperature is 59 degrees, and the average low is 32 degrees. The record high is 85 degrees and record low 9 degrees. The average humidity is 38%. The winds are picking up, and we can get very strong gusts. Winds have been clocked at 60 MPH. Keep the trees in the cold frame until the end of the month unless you are repotting, and then return them to cold frame by nightfall. Open cold frame two weeks before bringing out trees.

Watering: Trees in the cold frame will not need much water, but do not let them dry out. Keep slightly damp. One time during the month, water with mild solution of MirAcid again. The trees planted in the ground will need more water; probably once a week , depending on winds. The winds will dry out the soil very rapidly. Water in the morning.

Fertilizing: Start adding some nitrogen in weak solutions. Use some phosphorus for flowering and fruit trees.

Spraying: Spray with dormant spray up to the time deciduous trees are budding. Discontinue after buds appear and control insects with other products. Watch for black aphids now. Check just beneath soil level at base of trunks on fruit and flowering trees for borers. Use borer crystals immediately.

Trimming & Pruning: Prune out winter damage as soon as it can be determined what is alive. Seal cuts not only to keep sap in, but to keep infection out. Save scions for mid-April grafting. Keep in damp paper towels in refrigerator.

Repotting: If buds have appeared on deciduous trees, repot now before the leaves open and before the plant flowers. Evergreens can wait as long as the end of May. If repotted last year, they may not need it this year. This depends entirely on the growth pattern of the species. Place the newly repotted trees back in the cold frame until the first part of April.

Bonsai Sizes

One of the most convenient and memorable ways to measure the size of bonsai is by hands. That is, how many hands it takes to carry one.

Dai bonsai is a four or more handed bonsai. It takes two or more people to move it.

Chiu is a two handed bonsai.

Shohin is a one handed bonsai.

Shohin is further divided into sub categories: Komono (16″), Mame (5–10″) and Shito (fingertip bonsai, < 3″).

These size descriptions were originally used to design displays based on the size of tatami mats vs. the size of the trees, i.e. how big a room was needed for a tasteful display. We, and the Japanese too, have pretty well ignored this in recent years. So for us, the issues of size are of personal taste, space, handling, expense, and a couple of additional caveats.

Don’t imagine that small bonsai are somehow easier to make and keep—actually the opposite is true. In our high desert climate, the very act of adequate watering in spring and summer make small bonsai an overwhelming challenge for some, not to mention winter care. However, the ease of handling, the relatively lower cost involved in pots and stands, and the ability to have a number of plants in a small area, make the Shoin size very attractive. Shoin fans are a dedicated band of crazies, and are fiendishly loyal to their small world. Only this size generates  numbers of specialized clubs and societies, both here and abroad.

Bonsai Master, John Naka has answered a thousand times the question: “How do I make good bonsai?” with “Aquire good material.” It’s less important for us to worry about size than it is to find good material in any size we feel we can handle fairly comfortably.

The ability to see possibility in raw material should generally not be limited by size concerns. Though the Shohin fans might throw some punches over that, the point is not to force preconceptions about size or anything else over your material like some kind of cookie cutter.

A good bonsai creates its own world around it, a world of mass, color, texture, line, and most important, of mood and emotional impact. If the tree has a touch of the magic, size does not matter.

When choosing a bonsai for size, areas of consideration are;

  • How much time you can dedicate to your bonsai
  • How much space you have available
  • Your climate considerations
  • Your budget
  • Your level of experience 
  • Your physical strength or accessibility to assistance

In the end, do your research first and value the magic above the category. With just a basic knowledge of size differentiation, you should feel just as comfortable at the next happy hour as you are over a cup of your favorite tea.

Bonsai in April

April is usually the windiest month in Albuquerque. The average high temperature is 70 degrees, and the average low is 41 degrees. The record high is 89 degrees; the record low is 18 degrees. Humidity averages 30%. Start bringing trees out of the cold frame, but be prepared to put them back in should there be a late killing frost. Protect them from wind. Deciduous trees have probably started new shoots and/or blooms by now and need filtered sunlight. Do not expose any bonsai to full sun yet. Albuquerque sun is very intense due to the mile high elevation and mostly clear days. As spring and summer progress, temperatures get hot. Bonsai require an overhead light filter–a large tree, mesh lath work, etc. Set the trees on benches or tables, not on the ground. If they stay on the ground very long, they collect snails and pill bugs. The former eat leaves, and the latter eat the roots. Pill bugs will also get in the post when they are in the cold frame. After watering, soak entire tree and pot in a mild solution of fungicide and insecticide.

Watering: Don’t over water, but the winds are very drying. Deciduous trees need a bit more water than Juniper and pines. Generally, one watering a day in the morning is adequate unless the winds are up. By mid-afternoon ( 1-3 PM) they should be checked. Water the entire area; ground under the trees, walks, cover overhead, and surrounding garden plants to build up humidity in the air that the winds are drying out. DO NOT WATER a tree if it is in the full sun. Add MirAcid or a small amount of vinegar to your water barrel to neutralize alkaline tap water.

Fertilizing: Use all purpose fertilizer with nitrogen in mild solutions (2 to 1/3 amount called for in package instructions) or mild solutions of soil sulfur, iron tone, or MirAcid. Feed small amounts once or twice a month, not large doses every six months or so. Heavy concentrations of fertilizer can be toxic. See chapter on fertilizers on Naka’s Bonsai Techniques I.

Spraying: Spray for aphids. Mild detergents or insecticide soaps can be used. Protect soil with foil and wash off after treatment.

Trimming & Pruning: Toward the end of April, Flowering and fruiting trees will probably be in bloom. After 80% of buds have blossomed, remove all flowers and remaining buds. Berries may be left on. On fruiting trees, leave a few blossoms or there will be no fruit. See article on nipping and pruning in BCI magazine Jan/Feb 1988.

Repotting: If buds have appeared on deciduous trees, repot now before the leaves open and before the plant flowers. Evergreens can wait as long as the end of May. If repotted last year, they may not need it this year. This depends entirely on the growth pattern of the species.  If tree is in bloom, do not disturb it. Deciduous trees are repotted first. In late April, pot trees that have wintered in the ground, but the same “budding” rules apply.

Grafting: In mid-April, use scions from the refrigerator. Late April–time to start cuttings and seeds under glass jars.

Bonsai in May

This month is still windy. Average high is 79.9 degrees; average low is 50.7 degrees. Record high is 98 degrees; record low is 28 degrees. Average humidity is 28%, lowering by 5 PM to 16%. Start a habit of rotating trees periodically to insure healthy growth all around.

Watering: Water well every morning, hosing entire area on windy days. Keep pines and junipers a little drier.

Fertilizing: No fertilizer at all for any trees just repotted. Wait four weeks before feeding them. Apply some bone meal to fruit and berry bonsai. Continue a regular program for the remainder of the trees, increasing nitrogen content. Change fertilizers periodically to pick up different trace elements.

Spraying: Keep checking for aphids, grasshoppers, spider mites, and white flies. Sometimes a small pinch of systemic insecticide should be added to pellet-type fertilizers.

Trimming & Pruning: Cut back long sprouts, leaving 2 or 3 buds. On older deciduous trees, shoots should be left on until they harden and stop growing. Remove these shoots the following dormant season. Start wiring again, not too tight. Don’t try to wire tiny new growth. The new candles on older pines should be pinched back, but leave the candles on young trees for another month. Do the jin now.

Repotting: Repot junipers and pines. When transplanting a pine, save a small amount of soil which has some white fungus. Mix it with new soil and place in bottom of pot. Pine and this fungus have a joint living relationship.

Bonsai in June

This month is traditionally hot and dry. Average high is 89.5 degrees; average low is 59.7 degrees. The record high is 105 degrees; the record low is 42 degrees. The humidity averages 29%, getting down to around 10% by afternoon on a windy day. It is important now that the trees are in filtered sun. If they have too much shade, the trees will put on spindly growth; with too much sun they will bake. Keep rotating trees during growing season.

Watering: Water well in the morning until it runs out of the bottom of the pot. Cut off any roots growing out of drainage holes. The deciduous trees will probably need more water in the early afternoon. Check pines and junipers for moisture. It is not advisable to water in the late evening because leaves are subject to mildew if they don’t dry off by nightfall. Remember to water the area around the trees.

Fertilizing: Continue normal light feeding.

Spraying: Only as necessary.

Trimming & Pruning: New shoots on older deciduous trees can be cut back now. Start pinching back cypress and junipers with fingers or tweezers. Cutting with shears turns the ends brown. Young pines and vigorously growing older pines should be de-candled. Start with the lower part of the tree first. Leave the top until later. Check all trees for wire cutting into the bark. If it is, remove immediately and rewire.

Bonsai in July

The weather is still hot, but there is more rain. Average high is 92.2 degrees; average low is 65.2 degrees. The record high is 104 degrees; record low is 54 degrees. Relative humidity is 43%. Rains can come down in torrents. The sun filter overhead has another use, protecting the bonsai from having soil washed out of the pot.

Watering: Water well in the morning until it runs out of the bottom of the pot. Cut off any roots growing out of drainage holes. The deciduous trees will probably need more water in the early afternoon. Check pines and junipers for moisture. It is not advisable to water in the late evening because leaves are subject to mildew if they don’t dry off by nightfall. Remember to water the area around the trees.

Fertilizing: Continue small amounts regularly. Change types to get different trace elements. The fertilizer should still contain nitrogen.

Spraying: Control insects and check fruiting trees for borers. Borers attack the trunk just under the soil line and can kill a tree in just a few months.

Trimming & Pruning: Later this month, you can de-leaf if necessary. Do not do this every year. Keep the junipers pinched. Paint the hardened off, dry jinned areas with lime sulfur, and place the tree in full sun for a while. You can wire hardened off wood now. Remove most of the fruit so the tree can preserve some strength. See BCI Magazine, July/Aug 1987. Keep checking wires.

Bonsai in August

There are usually thunderstorms during the first part of the month. They usually stop abruptly, and the end of the month can be the driest part of the year. The average high is 89 degrees; the average low is 63 degrees. The record high is 101 degrees; the record low is 52 degrees. The average relative humidity is 47%, but remember the higher humidities occur only during the first week or so. Keep rotating trees and checking for bugs, especially snails and slugs. A harder spray of water in the morning can wash some of these pests away.

Watering: Protect from gully-washer thundershowers, but don’t be fooled by a thin layer of damp surface soil. Water every day, twice toward the end of the month. Spray foliage–light misting often. No water late in the evening.

Fertilizing: Light mixtures. Cut back nitrogen and raise phosphorus.

Spraying: Keep bugs under control.

Trimming & Pruning: Be careful about any drastic pruning, especially on flowering trees. Check wires again. Remove any tight wires.

Repotting: DO NOT attempt any transplanting or repotting this late in the year.

Bonsai in September

Days are getting cooler but there are still hot days an it is still very dry (except during the state fair downpours!). The average high is 83 degrees; the average low is 56 degrees. The record high is 98 degrees; the record low is 32 degrees. If freezing weather is forecast, put the trees in the ground.

Watering: You may cut back on water depending of the temperature, but do not let them dry out completely.

Fertilizing: Half normal feeding. No nitrogen.  (Check out John’s recent screed on fertilization.)

Trimming & Pruning: Long shoots on new bonsai should not be cut off completely, but slightly trimmed and only after shoot has matured. Some trees will go through a last spurt of growth before going dormant. Remove any wire that is cutting in to bark.

Winter Care: A cold frame is recommended for winter storage of bonsai that need a dormant period. An alternative method of winter care is planting the tree directly in the ground after gently removing it from its bonsai pot. A cold frame should be built on the north side of a building.

Repotting: None.

Bonsai in October

Nights may be too cool now for semi-tropicals. Move deciduous trees to a shadier location to prevent new growth. Watch the weather reports more carefully now. It is common to have an early frost. The average high is 71 degrees; the average low is 44 degrees. The record high is 87 degrees (2015 update:  expecting 90° on Oct. 2); record low is 22 degrees. The relative humidity averages 43%.

Watering: You may cut back on water depending of the temperature, but do not let them dry out completely.

Fertilizing: Half normal feeding. No nitrogen.  (Check out John’s recent screed on fertilization.)

Trimming & Pruning: Trim strong growth on upper portions of conifers. Trim and clean off dead needles. After leaves have fallen from deciduous trees, it is safe to shorten the year’s growth. Clean all dead leaves from soil. At the end of the month, remove all fruit and any seed pods. The berries may be saved until spring if the tree is healthy. Trees may be rewired for winter.

Winter Care: Prepare the cold frame with snail baits and insecticides; purchase fresh straw. Prepare ground for those bonsai that will be planted for the winter. Leave the trees out as long as possible to insure they’re going dormant normally. Toward the end of the month, remove them from their pots without disturbing the roots any more than necessary and plant the trees in the prepared ground. Sprinkle pill bug bait generously and cover with straw. Those bonsai that are to be stored in the cold frame for the winter should remain in their pots.

Bonsai in November

The nighttime temperatures are going below the freezing point now. The average high temperature is 57 degrees; the average low is 31 degrees. The record high is 77 degrees; the record low is -7 degrees. Trees should be dormant now and in their winter protection. You may open the cold frame on warmer days and during “warm” snows. Close the cold frame by sundown.

Watering: Water less from now to February, but never let them dry out completely. Trees in a cold frame stay damp longer than those in the ground, and they are not using very much water when they are dormant. Never water trees when they are frozen. Water in the morning so all water can drain from the pots by evening. Water trees in the ground at mid-day about once a week. The ground stays damp under the straw. Check for dryness by inserting your finger in the straw. If dry, water.

Fertilizer: None necessary.

Trimming & Pruning: Remove any leaves left on deciduous trees. Remove any extra long second year needles on pines. Time for second trimming on black pines. DO NOT ATTEMPT wiring this late in the year.

Repotting: DO NOT ATTEMPT to repot at this time.

Bonsai in December

This is winter now. Even though some days are fairly warm, keep the cold frame closed. Open it if there is a “warm” snow during the day, but close by nightfall. The average high temperature is 47 degrees; the average low is 24 degrees. The record high is 72 degrees; 3 degrees is the record low.

2015-16 update:  El Nino forecasts from NOAA are showing above normal precipitation with normal or slightly above normal seasonal temperatures.

Watering:  Water less from now to February, but never let them dry out completely. Trees in a cold frame stay damp longer than those in the ground, and they are not using very much water when they are dormant. Never water trees when they are frozen. Water in the morning so all water can drain from the pots by evening. Water trees in the ground at mid-day about once a week. The ground stays damp under the straw. Check for dryness by inserting your finger in the straw. If dry, water.  No fertilizing.

 

Bonsai Show at the Botanic Garden Coming Soon

May 12-13, 2012

Once again the “Ancient Art of Bonsai” show will wrap up the Rio Grande Botanic Garden’s spring indoor show season co-sponsored by the Albuquerque Bonsai Club. The bonsai show will be held in the Garden Showroom.

Members of the club will be show their best bonsai of different styles and species of trees. Local varieties such as Alligator Juniper, Mountain Mahogany, Piñon, Sage Brush and certain herbs work well in New Mexico for the culture of bonsai.

Questions will be answered enthusiastically by long-time members who are actively engaged in growing Bonsai. Morning and afternoon demonstrations will be performed and an educational table will be set up to show the stages of development in creating bonsai.The Bonsai Show is included with regular admission.

Call (505) 848-7148 for more information.

April 2012 Meeting

April 7, Cindy Read Workshop

St. Mary’s Episcopal church. 1500 Chelwood Park Boulevard Northeast. 9:00.  Cindy Read, she has studied with Roy Nagatoshi and others and was here last October, will be having a workshop on Saturday April 7th. There will be fourteen positions, seven in the morning and seven in the afternoon. The positions will be $35.00 each. If you want to come and observe you are welcome to.

Cindy is driving and bringing some Shimpaku Junipers, they were started in 1996,  and a couple of grafted San Jose junipers with her for sale.  They will cost from $50.00 to $150.00.

We were able to get the parrish hall at St. Mary’s Episcopal church. 1500 Chelwood Park Boulevard Northeast, Albuquerque, NM for the workshop. The workshop will start
at 9:00.

Cindy is also willing to help anyone who wants it on Sunday.

Club Captain: John Egert

I first became aware of bonsai when I saw a display at the Pasadena Art Museum when I was a kid taking art classes there,” explains John Egert. That accidental exposure to bonsai turned into a lifelong avocation and he shares his knowledge every month for ABC members.

On the third Saturday of most months, John gathers a group of bonsai enthusiasts at a local venue and works through a example (or two or three).  The location varies, so club members eagerly await the monthly announcement of the topic and the place.

John began by teaching himself about the trees and visiting the California Bonsai Society’s shows at the California Museum of Science and Industry. “I tried different plants, but couldn’t get the look I wanted until I began making artificial trees from clay, wire, and some woodcarvings.” He continued to work with the trees while in high school and college.

I became obsessed with this goofy art,” John continues. In the 1960s there were few bonsai nurseries in the Los Angeles area, notably San Gabriel, Yamaguchi, Shig Nagatoshi’s, and the closest one to his home, Komai Bonsai Nursery in Temple City. Almost every day, while also attending graduate school, John found himself at Khan Komai’s. “I pestered poor Khan mercilessly, finally pleading with him to give me a job, which, with great reluctance, he did.

It was also at this time, 1972, John began to take classes from Komai. “I was living the bonsai apprentice life, and I loved it,” John exclaims. Not only was he learning from Komai, but he was exposed to all the teachers who used Khan’s classroom, like Jim Barrett, Melba Tucker, Masakuni Kawasumi, Tom Yamamoto, Yuji Yoshimura, and many others who pioneered bonsai in the United States.

He also got to know Khan’s father-in-law Frank Nagata, the dean of American bonsai teachers. “We sat for hours working on trees and listening to the LA Dodgers, with whom ‘Dad” had a passionate love/hate relationship. I called him dad and he called me Johnny, which no one else ever did,” John recalls.

I was making peanuts, of course, but whenever I had a tree worthy of showing, a beautiful pot would magically appear anonymously, which was Dad’s way of eliminating the Japanese gift ritual,” John says. “Whenever I had the dough, I would get him a bottle of Sho Chiku Bia Sake, which I would give him anonymously.

The relationship between John and Khan continued until his passing. He is still in close relations with Kay Komai, his wife. “When my son was born in 1988, his middle name became Komai, on the theory that if I croaked or went crazy, he would have a place to start looking for his other family.” Kay and Khan became godparents to John’s son, and Kay “still rules his life with an iron hand.”

Another friend John made during this time is Harry Hirao, who remains a close friend. He would come twice a month to Khan’s nursery, and they would go to the Mojave to dig California Junipers. “I loved going to his house in Huntington Beach, and wandering through his collection.”

I also got to spend a good amount of time with John Naka, and would periodically take him a load of decomposed granite from the mountains above my house in exchange for some teaching,” John says.

John became a member of Khan’s Baikoen Kenkyukia, Santa Anita Bonsai Society, the California Bonsai Society, and a charter member of Hirao’s Kofu Kai.

His apprenticeship cumulated into a year spent in Japan, working at Kyuka-en, a famous bonsai garden and nursery. John says while there, he got a “worm’s eye view of the work of Japanese bonsai and a large dose of Zen from the rituals in the nursery.

Due to frequent moves, work demands, and other factors, there have been many times in John’s life when it has not been possible to keep bonsai and as a result John says he is always starting over, which is the part he likes best. “I probably enjoy having trees in the ground or in boxes, developing away, more than ‘finished’ trees in pots.

The Albuquerque Bonsai Club came as a surprise blessing,” John notes. “There is nothing better than spending a fine desert Saturday living bonsai with this gang of bizzarros and raving individualists.

Workshop April 10 – Sign up now

Sign up now for this wonderful workshop at the Albuquerque Botanic Garden with Jim Barrett. A master from Pasadena, CA, Jim has been a featured speaker at many bonsai conventions and clubs and has worked for many bonsai associations. He is a past president of Bonsai Clubs International, the first president of Golden State Bonsai Federation, the founding president of the Santa Anita Bonsai Society and currently serves on the American Bonsai Society’s board of directors.

There will be two workshops – one morning and the other afternoon with a  break for lunch at noon for an hour. Connie has the sign up sheet and members should contact her. Or contact the club for more information. Space is limited so sign up now.

The workshop will be open for viewing to people touring the Garden and the Club will have representatives to answer questions and hand outs about bonsai and ABC.

Jim Barrett is also well known for his original bonsai pots.

Next Meeting 2010

We stand prepared to make laughingstocks of ourselves once again on Saturday AM at El Zorro Loco’s workshop. I will try to repot a tree which is showing bad effects from the -18 night two weeks ago. Then, we will talk about The Great Dig on 3/19, both what you need to bring and what to look for when you’re there. I cruised past the property last Friday, and between the history of those old landgrant towns and the majesty of the property, we are in for a fascinating outing—- you really feel like you are a long ways from civilization……. even if you have no desire to dig, you should come anyway—- anything to get you away from the Soap Operas for one day, eh??

What is Bonsai?

Contrary to what many people think, bonsai is not a specific tree species. Bonsai can be created from many varieties of trees, shrubs, and vines. Both Coniferous and Deciduous trees are used in bonsai. Pine, Maple and Juniper are considered the ‘Classic’ bonsai. 

Combining both horticultural and artistic skills the objective of bonsai, regardless of the species, is to create the illusion of fully grown, mature trees in miniature. It involves the bringing of tree(s) and pot together into visual harmony.

Classified by styles, relating to the trunk angle, shape, number of trunks, formal, informal, slanting, cascade or group planting, bonsai  vary  dramatically in size from tiny shito bonsai trees grown in containers the size of a thimble, to trees requiring several men to move.

A bonsai should have a well tapered trunk and have branches all around the tree aiding to give the bonsai visual depth and ‘beauty’. The lower part of the trunk should be visible and well seated to show its ‘power’.

Wiring branches on younger tress, for as long as needed helps to encourage them to set into desired positions.

Contrary to what many believe, age is not a prerequisite for a bonsai tree. Instead, several techniques can be used to increase the illusion of age.  Two advanced techniques, Jin and Sharimiki involve the removal of  bark and subsequent carving of the exposed wood create the effect of an ancient tree that has suffered a trauma many years ago.

Bonsai do not differ genetically from trees found in nature. They stay small because they are confined in a container.

Soil

There are nearly as many bonsai soil recipes as there are bonsai trees in the world. It seems that just about everyone has their own mix. The important thing is to find a recipe that works for you and your trees. Your soil mix should provide enough water retention to sustain the tree between watering, yet be loose enough to allow for adequate drainage. You must also consider your fertilizing routine when planning a soil mix. Soil mixes with organic components tend to retain more moisture, as well as retain more fertilizers. This means that if you are fertilizing often then you will need to be careful that you do not overload the soil with fertilizer. Too much fertilizer may burn the fine feeder roots.  Inorganic or “soil-less” mixes are another alternative. I’ve been using a soil mix that I adopted from Boon Manakitivipart:

·         1/3 Akadama

·         1/3 Lava

·         1/3 Pumice

·         5% Horticultural Charcoal

·         5% Decomposed Granite

For deciduous trees and trees that prefer more moisture, use a smaller/finer mix with a little more Akadama added to retain more moisture. An inorganic mix such as the one detailed above, allows you to water and fertilize a little more often. Watering more often will help flush the soil of excess salts and other build-ups that may occur from municipal watering. Fertilizing more often will help produce ample growth during our growing season.

 

“You can grow plants in anything if you change your watering, fertilizing, and other cultural habits to match your soil” ? Brent Walston

 

There are a number of trace elements that a tree will need to survive. By using a soil-less mix you control when the tree receives fertilizers, vitamins, and minerals. A good way to add the amendments to the soil is with organic fertilizer cakes. Organic fertilizer cakes will have many of the nutrients that a tree will need, and will deliver these on a continual basis with each watering. With a well draining soil mix, liquid fertilizer may be lost too quickly. That isn’t to say that liquid fertilizers shouldn’t be used. Trees such as pines and junipers will do well with an extra dose of an acidic type fertilizer a few times during the growing season. This will increase the acidity level enough for the trees. Since switching to the inorganic soil mix I’ve seen increased root development, and have stronger, healthier trees. In fact, watering has become easier, as it’s nearly impossible to over-water with this rapidly draining soil.

 

Literati – The Poetic Style

Literati bonsai is an “approach” or “interpretation” within bonsai and not a specific style in and of itself. It is somewhat difficult to describe. However, we shall try. Consider the following comments by bonsai artist Harry Tomlinson:

Also called bunjin, this style of tree is often seen at the seashore or in areas where trees have grown up reaching for the light in competition with other trees that have since died or been felled. Characteristically, the trunk line flows or twists through several curves. Some trees grow this way with old age—the Scots pine naturally assumes this style in maturity. Most conifers can be recommended for growing as literati, and rugged deciduous trees such as flowering apricot and hawthorn.

Difficult To Define

Difficult to define precisely, this style breaks many rules but nevertheless the trees have an air of refined elegance. According to Kevin Landdeck at UC Berkeley, the Japanese term “bunjin” is derived from the Chinese “wenren.” which is a term that came into widespread usage during the Song dynasty (960-1278) to refer to scholars (often government officials) who engaged in literary and painterly arts. These men saw themselves as embodying a particular lofty attitude toward the arts, particularly a dedication to the “amatuer ideal” and a naturalistic approach. They disdained and denounced the widespread commercialization of art (i.e., they didn’t like professional painters and took exception to their overly contrived or artificial scenes). Thus, the term “wenren” came to embody an extremely cultivated (but non-commercial!) artistic sensibility that purported to “get back to nature.” In a sense, the “wenren” ideal was a rejection of the profound forces of commercialization sweeping through Chinese society at that time. The slender trees of these “wenren” painters had an abstract, calligraphic quality that was the inspiration behind cultivating bonsai in this style.

Now consider the comments of American bonsai master, John Y. Naka:

The bunjin style of bonsai is so free that it seems to violate all the principles of bonsai form. The indefinite style has no specific form and is difficult to describe, however, its confirmation is simple, yet very expressive. No doubt its most obvious characteristics are those shapes formed by old age and extreme weather conditions.

Trees pictured (in old master sumi paintings) with crossed trunks and branches would be messy and confusing in any other bonsai style, but is acceptable in a bunjin style. On a formal upright style, a branch that returns back to the trunk and crosses it would be unacceptable, and such a violating arrangement would grate against the senses. However, on a bunjin style such a reversal can give an exciting dramatic tension and a freedom to the tree.

Literati Style & Approach

If one were to characterize the literati approach to bonsai desigm one might use words such as: elegant, simplistic, clean, tall, slender or flowing.

In most cases all would be acceptable. A general bonsai canon states that there is “symmetry in asymmetry’ and “balance in unbalance.” If we accept this concept the literati approach to bonsai design becomes easier to understand.

A literati may assume the style of a cascade, semi-cascade, formal upright, informal upright or indeed any of the five basic styles. Its approach can likewise be expanded to include variations on the basic styles such as twin trunk, forest planting, multiple trunk, etc.

The very essence of good literati necessitates a departure or modification (if not a total break) with the traditional bonsai values regarding line, balance and form. It then becomes necessary for the student to have a clear understanding of these concepts and how they work through all bonsai styles in order to find, identify and exaggerate the elements in their material which will best lend themselves to the literati approach.

In a word… If it feels good… do it! But, be prepared to defend your choices on solid bonsai artistic grounds. Although bunjin sometimes reflects the bizarre and unusual, tying your tree in a knot is insufficient grounds for dubbing it a literati.

Suitable Materials

Literati generally focus on the line of the tree and less upon concepts such as mass and trunk taper. A good many literati have very little taper at all, and most have few branches usually located near the top of the tree. Generally speaking, two thirds of the total height of the tree is free from branches. Movement of the trunk can be flowing or angular and you should look for some unusual aspect of the material to feature.

Since a literati trunk usually features quite a bit of movement, Junipers (because of their elasticity) make excellent bonsai subjects. Pine also work well as do a large number of other evergreens. Deciduous species do not work as well because of their tendency to break and for foliage to always assume an upward growing path. This does not mean they won’t work, just that they are more difficult. Don’t be afraid to try. You may be the one to open a new frontier in bonsai design. Remember that the true excitment in a literati design if in the inovative way that it contradicts traditional values. Find the unusual or exotic in your tree and use it to good advantage.

Containers

Because of the movement, single trunk literati usually are planted in a shallow round or oval container. Trays are also acceptable and can be used in conjunction with rock or stone. In the case of ovals or trays, the tree are usually something other than uprights and should be planted somewhat off center. Remembering the rule that literati design should be simple… overly ornate or heavy glazed containers are generally avoided.

Care & Maintenance

Literati bonsai require the same kinds of care as do all bonsai with two small additions. First, because of their “tall” design they tend to be top heavy. In a good wind they can easily blow off a bench. You may want to tie them in place. Second, foliage should be kept relatively sparse. The general elegance of literati design prohibits heavy top foliage on a slender trunk with little taper.

Happy New Year!

Albuquerque Bonsai Club is proud to welcome its members to the new year. Since 1975 the club has supported local bonsai practitioners with open arms and a willingness to share. The website extends this support even further by providing an accessible 24 hour online up to date resource. At your fingertips you will find current weather forecasts, bonsai care tips, meeting announcements and much more. Set the site as your homepage or just come back often.

This is your single best resource for growing bonsai in the high desert.

Hope you enjoy the site and see you at the next meeting.

Tools

Bonsai Tools

Let’s face it, tools are cool. No matter the occupation, the hobby or the obsession, we all love a shiny set of new tools. But, when it comes to cost, the sky is the limit for even just a single sparkling beauty. However, when it comes to bonsai, if you are smart, you can avoid breaking your bank. With a basic set of tools you can go a long way to create miniature masterpieces. Rules of thumb, get the best you can afford, shop around and ask questions. 

essentials:

1)  Concave Cutter – This is the essential go to tool for Bonsai cultivation. Primarily, it is designed for removing branches. Concave cutters leave a small indented cut that heals quickly and minimizes scar tissue. A must have. There really is no substitute. An 8″ pair can purchased for as little as $30.

2 ) Wire Cutter – Wire cutters accomplish two things with wire. First, they are used to cut wire into pieces as needed from the rolls. Second, they are  used for cutting the wire into links when removing the wire from branch wrapings. Never try to unwrap wire from a tree. Always cut it off. If you are going to attempt to substitute bonsai wire cutters for something from the tool shed, make sure that they are rounded at the top. This will allow you to get as close to a branch as possible while cutting wire and at the same time avoid cutting into the tree. 

3 ) Shears (3 sizes shown) – While three sizes are show, for the beginner, one should suffice. Bonsai shears, sometimes referred to as bonsai scissors, are extremely effective at trimming roots, twigs, and branches from your bonsai. If you are on a budget, quality shears or scissors can be obtained at most garden stores. 

4) Chop Stick (not shown) – Do not under estimate the value of this seemingly simple and inexpensive tool. It possibly has more potential uses than any other tool in the Bonsai tool box. Some of its uses include; packing soil, to brace a tree, to assist in a branch bend, a water gauge, a soil rake, a root comb, a back scratcher or a nose picker. Or whatever else you come up with. Chopsticks can usually be obtained for free along with an order of your favorite chinese take out. If you use your chop stick as a nose picker, do not share it – thank you. 

 

Nice to have:

4) Leaf trimmer – Bonsai leaf trimmers are  also known as bonsai bud snippers or defoliators. They perform the easiest bonsai tree maintenance focusing on the light and delicate.

5) Rake with Spatula – This tool allows the enthusiast  to rake and pick root balls apart for a more controlled root trim and repotting.

6) Root Hook – Again, this tool is made to comb through bonsai roots easily.  Perhaps if you have a rake, you can for go this tool for now. Another great substitute is running water and your hand.

7) Knob Cutter – A knob cutter is designed to make a concave cut and remove trunk knobs and roots. It produces a hollow, circular cut that heals quickly with a minimum amount of scarring. The cutting head on this tool is on the tip (not the side like concave cutters), which allows you to cut much more forcefully. This makes it an ideal tool to have when cutting, carving, or shaping deadwood.

8 ) Turn Table (not shown) – Bonsai Turntables can get very elaborate. They are used while styling a tree and provide a convenient method for rotating the tree in order to make stylistic judgments. Prices vary wildly on this item. A quick substitute might be a rotating spice rack.

 

Silly, but fun;

9) Coir Brush –  This traditional Japanese tool is for keeping the surface of the soil free of litter without damaging surface roots. But really, it is just a small broom if you really think about it. Or is it?

About Bonsai

Contrary to what many people think, bonsai is not a specific tree species. Bonsai can be created from many varieties of trees, shrubs, and vines. Both Coniferous and Deciduous trees are used in bonsai. Pine, Maple and Juniper are considered the ‘Classic’ bonsai. 

Combining both horticultural and artistic skills the objective of bonsai, regardless of the species, is to create the illusion of fully grown, mature trees in miniature. It involves the bringing of tree(s) and pot together into visual harmony.

Classified by styles, relating to the trunk angle, shape, number of trunks, formal, informal, slanting, cascade or group planting, bonsai  vary  dramatically in size from tiny shito bonsai trees grown in containers the size of a thimble, to trees requiring several men to move.

A bonsai should have a well tapered trunk and have branches all around the tree aiding to give the bonsai visual depth and ‘beauty’. The lower part of the trunk should be visible and well seated to show its ‘power’.

Wiring branches on younger tress, for as long as needed helps to encourage them to set into desired positions.

Contrary to what many believe, age is not a prerequisite for a bonsai tree. Instead, several techniques can be used to increase the illusion of age.  Two advanced techniques, Jin and Sharimiki involve the removal of  bark and subsequent carving of the exposed wood create the effect of an ancient tree that has suffered a trauma many years ago.

Bonsai do not differ genetically from trees found in nature. They stay small because they are confined in a container.

Bonsai In New Mexico—By Roger Case

I first became interested in bonsai in 1969 after attending the Japanese Obon Festival in Monterey, California, where there was a display of what I believed to be a wonderful group of bonsai. I was hooked, and followed up with a visit to a local bonsai nursery. But this was before I faced the rigors of graduate school!

In 1981 (after graduate school), I settled down in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, in 1984, I took my first formal instruction in bonsai with the local teaching experts in New Mexico, Buck and Donna Buckholtz. Buck and Donna had both taught basic bonsai classes beginning some years earlier and continued until Buck’s passing in 2004. They taught bonsai for more years than most of my trees have been alive! That was in 1984, but bonsai had been alive (if not in a large way) in New Mexico for many years prior to that.

Perhaps the earliest purveyors of bonsai in New Mexico were George and Laurose Page, who operated a bonsai nursery in Clovis, NM, in the 1960s and 1970s. Clovis is located in the southeast part of New Mexico, on the eastern plains. Its climate is quite similar to that of the west Texas city of Lubbock.

In 1975, a small group of bonsai artists gathered in Albuquerque, then and still the state’s largest city, to form the Albuquerque Bonsai Club. To the best of my knowledge, there was no organized bonsai activity in the state before this time (other than the Clovis nursery). It has been alleged by Anthony (Tony) Mihalic, present owner and proprietor of Wildwood Gardens in Chandon, Ohio, that the Mihalics and Pages used to drive with their bonsai material to many of the southwest and Midwest cities whenever bonsai people got together for conventions or workshops.

However, the Clovis nursery closed in the 1980s, so then there was only 1 nursery with any significant bonsai activity. This nursery was operated by Sam Yamamoto, along with his wife and family. The Yamamoto nursery Japanese Nursery was located in Albuquerque’s North Valley along the Rio Grande River, in Albuquerque. It was here that the Buckholtzs taught bonsai, and where I took my first lessons in 1984 there. The Yamamotos continued operating this nursery until the city of Albuquerque had the land condemned for a bridge crossing the Rio Grande built in the l980s. Today, while bonsai are still sold by Wal Mart, Target, and traveling bonsai vendors (from Dallas and Denver) on street corners in Albuquerque, there is no remaining nursery that specializes in bonsai in the state.

Albuquerque Bonsai Club

The Albuquerque Bonsai Club (ABC) also remains today as the only club in the state, as Albuquerque is the only real area of bonsai activity in the state. Beginning in 1979, Ben Oki was the first bonsai master invited to conduct a bonsai workshop. Since then, other bonsai masters have presented workshops bonsai culture in Albuquerque. Visiting masters have included John Naka, Chase Rosade, Jim Barrett, Hal Sasaki, Toshio Subaromaru, Mel Ikeda, Ray Nagatoshi, Ernie Kuo, Guy Guidry and others. Just two years ago, we were honored with a day and a half visit by Masahiko Kimura who was traveling back to Japan from a convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Kimura presented a slide show and discussion on bonsai for ABC members and members of the Japanese-American Club here in Albuquerque. As for events, the ABC generally sponsors two workshops a year when visiting masters are brought into the city, and we invite our non-Albuquerque members from locations as far away as Los Cruces, NM to attend.

New Mexico Species and Climatic Conditions

The state of New Mexico has a wide range of climates, with 6 of the 7 climatic zones of the continental USA found within its borders. The Rocky Mountains extend from the north into the middle of New Mexico, with peaks as high as 14,056 ft. In the northern part of the state, there are extensive forests of fir, various 2- and 5-needle pines (including the pinyon pine which yield “pine nuts”).

Below is a list of species native to the state (those marked with an asterisk are known to be used for bonsai in the ABC):

New Mexico Conifers
Abies concolor (Gord. & Glend.) Lindl. ex Hildebr. White fir
Abies concolor var. concolor (Gord. & Glend.) Lindl. ex Hildebr. White fir
Abies lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt. Subalpine fir
Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica (Merriam) Lemmon corkbark fir
Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt. Subalpine fir
Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm. Engelmann spruce
*Picea pungens Engelm. Blue spruce
Pinus aristata Engelm. Bristlecone pine
Pinus arizonica Engelm. Arizona pine
Pinus arizonica var. arizonica Engelm. Arizona pine
*Pinus cembroides Zucc. Mexican pinyon
*Pinus edulis Engelm. Two needle pinyon
Pinus edulis var. edulis Engelm. Two needle pinyon
Pinus engelmannii Carr. Apache pine
Pinus flexilis James limber pine
Pinus leiophylla Schiede & Deppe Chihuahuan pine
Pinus leiophylla var. chihuahuana (Engelm.) Shaw Chihuahuan pine
*Pinus ponderosa P.& C. Lawson ponderosa pine
Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum Engelm. Ponderosa pine
*Pinus strobiformis Engelm. Southwestern white pine
Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirbel) Franco douglas fir
Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca (Beissn.) Franco rocky mountain douglas fir

New Mexico Maples:
*Acer glabrum Torr. Rocky mountain maple
Acer glabrum var. glabrum Torr. Rocky mountain maple
Acer glabrum var. neomexicanum (Greene) Kearney & Peebles NM Maple
Acer grandidentatum Nutt. Bigtooth maple
Acer grandidentatum var. grandidentatum Nutt. Bigtooth maple
*Acer grandidentatum var. sinuosum (Rehd.) Little canyon maple
*Acer negundo L. box elder
Acer negundo var. interius (Britt.) Sarg. Box elder maple
Acer negundo var. texanum Pax ashleaf maple

Much of the Northern part of the state is high plains (~4000-5000 ft) with juniper /pinyon savannah covering it. Over the last two years, large stands of pinyon have been killed by the bark beetle and a continued drought.

There are significant rivers that flow in the state, and through the higher semiarid desert regions — the Rio Grange flows through Albuquerque (which is at an altitude of 5000 ft), and the altitude is comparable to Denver but we are dryer and warmer in the summer. Albuquerque is bordered to the East by the Sandia and Manzano mountain ranges. Here many of the species listed above are native.

Local tree species and shrubs that have the potential of being made into effective, attractive and long-lived bonsai include those described above, as well as common, Rocky Mountain, and Alligator Bark juniper, and native Gambel oaks. Local hackberry, mountain mahogany, and New Mexico privet (foresteria neomexicana) are other native species used for bonsai. Some ABS members have successfully grown several species of sages as bonsai as well.

As for to the maple species that do well in New Mexico, there are the standards of Trident and Japanese maples (if shaded well). Some ABS club members have successfully grown azaleas (but only with significant effort and care), cedars, elms, tamarisks, willows, gingko, etc. Acer ginnala does quite well here without much protection and is often used in landscaping instead of Japanese maples – it also adapts well to bonsai culture here.

Growing Conditions

I will focus on the region surrounding Albuquerque, as this is where the main focus of the bonsai activity is located. To the south, conditions are similar if not identical to Tucson, Arizona. As you travel north, you enter the foothills and mountainous regions similar to Colorado with comparable growing conditions there.

Around Albuquerque, the weather is rather warm in the summer (100F and humidity of 10% or less) — the sun is brutal if your trees are left out without protection — they need to be covered and placed often in semi-shade, especially smaller trees. In the winter, we have seen -10, but normal temperatures are in the teens, with limited snow and much sun. There are usually one or two snowfalls of 6-12 inches in Albuquerque each winter, but in general it’s gone in a day or two. Therefore, for overwintering, traditional cold frames are often used. I also build a berm of straw bales and cover some of my trees which are not located in my greenhouse or cold frame for the winter.

The water is alkaline, averaging in the ph 6.5 range, so blueberries are not a species that do well here!

Bonsai Stock & Collecting

To obtain material from which bonsai can be developed, we have been able to obtain National Forest permits (“wildings”) for some areas, but not near Albuquerque where collecting is restricted. Local nurseries provide some sources of materials, as do conventions and mail order nurseries. In some case, we have had visiting masters bring stock material for workshops which also helps.

New Mexico—The Untapped Source

In my opinion, New Mexico is a source of bonsai material that is still untapped – there are wonderful species of juniper and pine, and a number of maples that adapt well to bonsai culture. I look forward to others also discovering the hospitality and bonsai possibilities in New Mexico in the future.


Roger Case is… (Roger Case Bio Here) Roger has been a member of the Albuquerque Bonsai Club since… Article reprinted here by permission of the Author. It originally appeared  in the North American Bonsai Federation Newsletter #10.

Resources

Organizations

Albuquerque Bonsai Club (ABC)  http://abqbonsaiclub.com/

American Bonsai Society   http://www.absbonsai.org/

Bonsai Clubs International   http://www.bonsai-bci.com/

US National Bonsai and Penjing Museum  http://www.usna.usda.gov/

Golden State Bonsai  Federation (GSBF)  http://www.gsbf-bonsai.org/

National Bonsai Foundation    http://www.bonsai-nbf.org/

Discussion Groups

Internet Bonsai Club   http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/

Art of Bonsai Project http://www.artofbonsai.org/

Bonsai Magazines

Bonsai  Focus (English edition)   http://bonsaifocus.com/

International Bonsai  http://www.internationalbonsai.com/

Bonsai  Nurseries

Dallas Bonsai Garden (Al wire, tools)  http://www.dallasbonsai.com/

Adams Bonsai (Cu wire) http://www.adamsbonsai.com/

Deer Meadow Bonsai (Cu wire, plants)http://www.jimgremel.com/bonsaihomepage.html

Bonsai Northwest (Seattle) (plants, pots) http://www.bonsainw.com/

Articles

http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/

 http://www.top13.net/suiseki-artists-turn-so-far-unnoticed-stones-into-magnificent-art/

Become a Member

Anyone interested in Bonsai is welcome to join the Albuquerque Bonsai Club.

Membership dues are $24.00 per year for individuals or families starting in January.

The benefits of membership in the Albuquerque Bonsai Club include:

  • Monthly meetings, where members meet to share their interest in and knowledge of Bonsai.  Open to the public.
  • Seminars and Workshops. The Albuquerque Bonsai Club or its members offer Bonsai seminars and workshops where members get the opportunity to learn about Bonsai and increase their Bonsai skills and Knowledge.
  • Bonsai Shows. Members are encouraged to participate in Bonsai shows.
  • Library. The Albuquerque Bonsai Club maintains a library of Bonsai books available to members.
  • Monthly classes, where local masters work with members on special projects.  Members only.

If you wish to join the Albuquerque Bonsai Club, come to a club meeting at Heights Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 8600 Academy NE, room 403 on the 1st Saturday of the month at 9:00 AM.

History of Bonsai

The history of bonsai (pronounced bone-sigh) is cloaked in the mist of the past but it is now widely accepted that it was the Chinese who first created the miniature landscapes and trees that we now know as bonsai. In Japanese, bonsai can be literally translated as ‘tray planting’, but since originating in Asia so many centuries ago – it has developed into a whole new form. Called penjing by the Chinese, bonsai was believed to have had its start in the Han Dynasty. In this essay I will discuss some of the legends and facts surrounding the beginning of bonsai.

One of the earliest Chinese legends contends that it was in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.) that an emperor created a landscape in his courtyard complete with hills, valleys, rivers, lakes and trees that represented his entire empire. He created the landscape so that he could gaze upon his entire empire from his palace window. This landscape form of art was also his alone to posess. It was said that anyone else found in possession of even a miniature landscape was seen as a threat to his empire and put to death.

Another Chinese legend relating to the beginnings of bonsai points to a fourth century A.D. Chinese poet and civil servant named Guen-ming. It’s believed that after his retirement he began growing chrysanthemums in pots. Some historians believe this was a step towards the beginning of bonsai in the Tang dynasty some 200 years later.

The earliest documented proof of bonsai was discovered in 1972 in the tomb of Prince Zhang Huai, of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 A.D.) who died in 706 A.D. Two wall paintings discovered in the tomb show servants carrying plants resembling bonsai. In one of the paintings a servant is seen carrying a miniature landscape and in the other painting a servant is shown carrying a pot containing a tree.

Bonsai comes to Japan

Even though it’s the Japanese who get most of the credit for bonsai, it wasn’t until the Heian period (794 – 1191A.D.) that Buddhist monks brought bonsai to the island. For many years following the arrival of bonsai, the art was practiced by only the wealthy and thus came to be known as a nobleman privilege. The fact that the art of bonsai was limited to the noble class almost caused the art to die out in Japan. It was with the Chinese invasion of Japan in the fourteenth century that the art of bonsai started to be practiced by people of all classes. Once the art was practiced by all classes, bonsai began to grow in popularity in Japan. The Chinese influence on the early bonsai masters is apparent since the Japanese still use the same characters to represent bonsai as the Chinese. After the establishment of bonsai in Japan, the Japanese went to great lengths to refine the art and a lot of credit must go to these early bonsai masters. The refinements that they developed has made bonsai what it is today.

Bonsai Comes West

The earliest bonsai to come to the west came mostly from Japan and China. The showing of bonsai at the Third Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1878 and later exhibitions in 1889 and 1900 increased western interest in bonsai and opened the door for the first major bonsai exhibit held in London in 1909. In these early years many westerners felt that the trees looked tortured and many openly voiced their displeasure in the way the trees were being treated by bonsai masters. It wasn’t until 1935 that opinions changed and bonsai was finally classified as an art in the west.

With the end of World War II, bonsai started to gain in popularity in the west. It was the soldiers returning from Japan with bonsai in tow that sparked western interest in the art, even though most of the trees brought home by these soldiers died a short time after their arrival. They survived long enough to create a desire in westerners to learn more about the proper care of their bonsai. The large Japanese-American population was invaluable to Americans in this respect. Their knowledge of the art of bonsai was of great interest ot many Americans learning the art.

Today, bonsai are sold in department stores, garden centers, nurseries, and many other places. However, most of these are young cuttings or starts and not the true bonsai produced by bonsai masters. Most trees purchased today are known as pre-bonsai and are for the most part only used as a starting point. To create a true bonsai work of art you need to learn as much as possible about the art and the trees you use. Information is your key to success and it is important to read as much as possible. It is also a good idea to join a local bonsai club so you are able to discuss the subject with experienced bonsai enthusiasts. As your knowledge and confidence grow, creating your own bonsai works of art will become easier and your enjoyment of bonsai will grow.

From :http://www.celestialbonsai.com/history.html