Our Archived Blog Posts Circa 2014 - 2016

November 14, 2016 - Jim Pelling is in the hospital

I apologize for the late notification.  We just learned that our newsletter editor is back in the hospital and we wish him a speedy recovery.

I also want to thank Cesareo Perez, our Vice President, for stepping in and creating this month's issue at the last moment.  He did a great job.

Join us for the last meeting of the year, featuring Lindsay Shiba as our featured demonstrator and please vote in our officers for 2017.

Your lame duck President thanks you.

September 16, 2016 - Jim Pelling Injured

 Our newsletter editor, Jim Pelling, fell off of his bike recently fracturing his hip, which put him into rehab, so our newsletter did get out in a timely manner.  We hope that Jim will rest and recover quickly and that you will bear with us during this difficult time.

On a pleasant note, our annual potluck/auction will still be held tomorrow, Tuesday, September 19th.  Everyone is welcome to come and join us at Descanso Gardens beginning at 6:30 for wine and appetizers.  Dinner at 7:00 followed by the auction at 8:00.

July 23, 2016 - Don Graff Remembered By Elizabeth Likes

 There are a lot of our members who did not know Don Graff, but if you did, you may remember that he used to live at Descanso Gardens in that lovely house on the hill with that very wonderful yard, with his wife and family for many years, while raising his children.  They lived on the upper floor and I am not sure how many years, but it has only been maybe 10 to 15 years since they were asked to retire.

Don was the caretaker and when Descanso Bonsai Society would meet, beginning in the 1970's in the Carriage house down by the meadow, he would come down and make sure everything was set up for our meetings.  He continued to do the same after Van de Kamp hall was completed and we moved our meetings to the new hall.  When he wasn't working taking take care of the meetings that we and others clubs were holding, he served as the ticket taker at the Descanso Gardens front entrance.

He also drove the tram and gave an great talk about Descanso Gardens and its creator, Elias Manchester Boddy, for us visitors.  We were very fortunate because he would drive the tram and take us through the gardens in the evening before our August potluck dinner each year.  He was informative and it always made for a fun evening.

Don and his wife, Maggie, had been coming to the January dinner every year, but missed last year.  Don had taken up oil painting and was doing quite well.  I always received a Christmas card from them and I will miss that.  I knew that Maggie had had a problem but I didn't know how ill Don was.

Elisabeth Likes

July 5, 2016 - Ted Matson Critique

Our July demonstrator will be Ted Matson, not Kathy Shaner, as was originally scheduled.  Kathy will be rescheduled to visit us in the future.  Ted will still do a critique program and members are requested to bring in their trees for critique.  Email Cesareo at cesareop2001@gmail.com to let him know that will be participating, please.

Well thank goodness the weather has settled down for us here in the valley and the trees are breathing a little easier for now.  The blast furnace of summer still looms on the horizon, so if adding a shady area to your bonsai area is in your thoughts, now would be a good time to take care of it.

Registration for the GSBF Convention has begun.  Be an early bird for best selection of workshops, discount pricing and hotel reservations

See you July 19th at the club.

July 5, 2016 - Long-time Member Bruce Hisayasu Passes

We just learned of the passing of long time member, Bruce Hiasyasu, who along with his wife Yaeko have been members of the club since the late 70’s.  Bruce and Yaeko imported bonsai pots from Japan, Korea and China and always offered a huge assortment of shapes, sizes and quality along with wonderful hospitality and pleasant conversation for those of us who would visit them socially or come to find just the perfect pot for one of our trees.  There was always the offer of a cold drink from the garage refrigerator and a pleasant visit with two of the nicest people around.

Bruce Hisayasu passed away on June 13. His obituary was in the Rafu Shimpo Newspaper on June 16 and funeral services were held on Tuesday, June 21, at Pasadena Buddhist Temple, 1993 Glen Avenue, Pasadena.

Bruce was a pleasantly outspoken, good-natured member of many bonsai clubs, including California Bonsai Society, Nampu Kai, and Kofu Bonsai Society, to name a few.  He was known to most of us in bonsai, here and in Northern California, and will be missed by all of us.

June 7, 2016 - It's Showtime

This weekend, June 11th and 12th, we will be having our annual show at Descanso Gardens in LaCanada/Flintridge and everybody is invited to join us there.  There will be bonsai demonstrations each day at 11:00 and 1:00 that are free to the public and there is our Saturday Night reception which features food, drink, an auction and a great raffle.  What more do you need for an excellent evening of bonsai enjoyment?

May 5, 2016 - New Editor Assumes Position

Please join me in welcoming Jim Pelling to the position of DBS Newsletter Editor.  We wish him good luck and acknowledge him for taking on this important position on behalf of our club.  We look forward to seeing great things from Jim.

January 4, 2016 - Happy New Year

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ellen Keneshea for her nine years of service to the club as newsletter editor and especially for her patience with me in producing my President's Message in a timely manner.  During the time that Ellen was editor, Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) recognized the excellence of the newsletter by awarding her first place in their annual competition.  She has created an attractive newsletter that has been the main communication tool for the club with our members and the bonsai community.

We are now looking for a new newsletter editor to fill her soon to be vacant position.  Ellen says that it’s great fun and you get to know lots of people.  The next issue will be her last, so please volunteer!

Having been a newsletter editor in the past, I heartily agree and found that as a new member, who knew almost no one at the club, becoming the newsletter editor allowed me to gradually get to know and to be on a first name basis with almost everyone.

You may let any board member know that you’re interested.  Our contact info is on the last page of the newsletter and also on this website.

Once again, thank you Ellen for a wonderful job as editor and for your patience with me.

December 6, 2015 - Membership Chair year end change

 Our 2nd Vice President/Membership Chair, Fred Seeley, has stepped down from his position on the board and I want to thank him for his service to the club since February 2013.  He has been of great support and I hope that he remains active in the day to day running of the club.

Replacing Fred, beginning today, I am appointing Keith Martin as Membership Chair, who has been has been a member of the current board serving in the position of club Secretary.

Please contact Keith for any questions concerning new membership or renewals.

Happy Holidays.

September 25, 2015 - DBS Potluck/Auction for 2015

On September 15, 2015 DBS held its annual potluck and auction at Descanso Gardens and here are some pictures of that event that were taken by Ryan Wells.

First let's eat.

And now let's see what's up for auction.

Nathan Simmons and James

Nathan, Nelson Sanabria and Roman Marrin

Dr. Jeanne Heyerick and husband Eric Rogger flanking Peju Olusanya, Kathy Benson

Get your bidding cards.

Kathy, Fred, Michael Jonas, Javier Vallin. Al Rivera, James, Jim


President Michael explains how its going to work, while Vice President/Auctioneer Cesareo Perez prepares to take over.

As Cesareo works the crowd, Kathy and Ellen Keneshea compile a list of the bidder's winnings.

Yes, we are auctioning wine tonight.

Our oldest member, at 100 years young, Sara Gyer, donated a most of her collection to the club for this auction.  Thank you Sara.  She was accompanied by one of her friends, a person new to bonsai, who came to bid on her trees.

SOLD!  The final item was a large old European olive that was hotly sought after and finally was won by a happy Jim Pelling.

Thank you one and all for the delicious food, wonderful donated items and the enthusiastic bidding.  Thanks for all of the people who worked behind the scene to make sure everything was there and in place in order for us all to have a fun night.

June 11, 2015 - Show Setup for our Annual Show is Tomorrow

I want to invite everyone to come to Descanso Gardens at 10:00 a.m. and help us to set up the room for the show.  What that entails is placing tables, stands and backdrops on to the floor so that they can hold our cargo of trees, stands and accent plants during the weekend. We appreciate that your time is precious to you and know that there are always many other things that need getting taken care of and so we greatly value your efforts in support of the club.  You make this club what it is and that is one of the best bonsai clubs in Southern California.

It is always a pleasure to be at the club with so many dedicated enthusiasts and self-effacing volunteers.  You all make me proud to serve as you President.

Thank you.

June 1, 2015 - DBS Annual Bonsai Show, Reception, Auction and Sale for June 13-14, 2015

It's just two weeks until DBS holds it's 46th Annual Show at Descanso Gardens in LaCanada/Flintridge, CA on June 13-14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  Demos are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily.  The exhibition is open to the public after entrance into the Gardens.  I hope that everyone has a chance to attend the show and the Saturday night reception beginning at 6 p.m. featuring a grand raffle and exciting auction.  You may bring in your sales items anytime during the weekend beginning on Friday.

Show flyer 2015

Show rules and tree entry forms are available by clicking the following link.  Remember that we must receive your entry form by Thursday June 11th and that show setup is the following day on Friday June 12th between 11 a.m and 7 p.m. beginning with the physical setup of the tables and backdrops.  We will need as much help as possible for the setup so please make time in your schedule to assist us with the setup and take down on Sunday.

This year Father's Day is on June 21 so it will not interfere with our show.

Show entry form 2015

I'm looking forward to a great weekend and to seeing everyone attend.

May 19, 2015 - Pre-show Critique Meeting Tonight

Tonight Cesareo is organizing a special evening tonight that will help us get the most out of displaying our trees at our Annual Show next month, June 13-14, at Descanso Gardens. Bring your show trees, accent plants and stands and get some helpful advice to maximize the beauty of your display.  See you at 7:30 p.m.

December 3, 2014 - DBS is Dark During December

The turkey was stuffed and soon thereafter so was I.  My wish was that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with friends or family and that you went home with lots of leftover treats.  I hope that those of you who attended the after Thanksgiving Sale at Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery put on by California Bonsai Society found treasures beyond imagining at prices so low you had to pinch yourself to see if you were just dreaming.  And so begins the holiday season in Southern California.  Black Friday, second chance Saturday, bonsai Sunday and back to work and online Monday.  Yes, it is a busy time for all.

The club doesn't meet in December and January so you and your trees get some time off from club meetings and you’ll just have to get your share of cookies from somewhere else.  This is not usually a difficult task this time of year.  Spend some time working with your trees and you will see some nice results next year.

 December 6 is the date for the Fresno Society 7th Annual Bonsai Yard Sale and though I have never attended I have heard lots of good things from those who did.  See details in the November 2014 Newsletter on the last page.  You can also see a copy of that and many others on our Newsletter Archive Page in pdf form.  Just click it and read, it’s that simple.

 Don’t forget the 25th Annual Aiseki Viewing Stone Exhibit at the Huntington Library from December 26th to the 31st.  They are closed on January 1st but you still have one more chance to see the exhibit on the 2nd.

In January we will be having our Annual Luncheon at the Angeles National Golf Club on January 24th at 1:00 p.m.  Email Elizabeth, or if you still don’t know how to do that, call her (818) 352-3064 and let her know how many guests to expect and what you would like to eat.  Chicken, Fish or Pasta Primavera as we have to tell the cooks what they need to prepare.  I hope to see everyone there and most people pay their annual club dues at that time, too.  Bring something nice for the raffle, please.

Eliot Farkas seen here at a Sansui-Kai meeting in 1999 winning a tree Bob Hilvers demonstrated on.

On a sadder note, past DBS member Eliot Farkas, as many of you already know, passed away last week.  He had complications which resulted from an operation that he had a while back.  We really hadn’t been seeing him around since the 2013 GSBF Convention in Burbank last year.  Eliot will be missed and the club wishes to express their condolences to his mother and his family for their loss.  Eliot, I am sure, is in bonsai heaven working on a new potential masterpiece.

And another one of our friends, Everett Bassin’s wife, Sharyn, one of the sweetest people around, passed away in October will be remembered in a Celebration of Life at Old World German Festival Hall in Huntington Beach on December 6th.  See you next year.

 October 18, 2014 - Mauro Stemberger Schedule For Oct - Nov 2014 Visit to L.A.

I wanted to let everyone know in advance of Mauro's schedule for his upcoming visit to the Southland.  He will be the featured demonstrator on November 18th here at DBS and will also be doing demos for Santa Anita Bonsai Society, Baikoen Kenkyukai and Sansui-Kai of Southern California, too.

We are organizing half-day and full-day workshops the same day, November 18th, at Descanso Gardens open to anyone in the bonsai community, you don't need to currently be a member of the club to have access to this world-class bonsai master.

There is also a workshop being created that will be meeting at Ted Matson's house on November 5th with half-day and full-day workshops available.

Contact Michael Jonasor mjonas48@hotmail.com for details.

View Mauro's schedule here:  Mauro Stemberger Visit Autumn 2014

Some images from Mauro's last visit to the club:

Mauro began his demo at DBS in March 2013 with a great CA juniper that was provided by Marcus Juniel.

The resulting design uses the inherent flow of the tree to create a very graceful and dynamic expression that works very well with the sharis and jins on the tree.  The tree was auctioned to the very appreciative attendees that night.

Mark your calendar now so you don't miss this entertaining event.

 October 17, 2014 - Our Own Cesareo Perez To Demo For Us In October

Cesareo is back this month with another of his insightful demonstrations.  He will turn a 5-gallon boxwood into a chuhin or shohin-sized bonsai.  I'm sure you won't want to miss this demo.  You will learn from someone who has developed many insights from his years of observing and developing his bonsai and shares freely from that knowledge.

Cesareo helping Gloria Clark during our hand's-on workshop meeting.

Not only that, but you might go home with wonderful Boxwood bonsai for your personal collection.

Cesareo is seen here during a discussion on how to display bonsai at our show.

See you on October 21st, 7:30 at Descanso Gardens.

 September 21, 2014 - Pictures From Ellen

Ellen Keneshea also contributed some of her pictures from the Potluck/Auction.

Cesareo working his magic

The crowd waits in anticipation

Bill Wawrychuk

David and June Nguy

Ray and Marge Blasingame with Jim Barrett

Ted Matson and Keith Martin

Taking care of the accounting for the auction are Elizabeth Likes and Kathy Benson

Judy and Jim Pelling

Rick Naber and Joe Galgoul

 September 14, 2014 - Al Rivera Donates Cork Oak Forest

Al is donating a cork bark oak forest.

Looks like either 6 or 7 trunks.

Al is calling out Javier Vallin.  So now it's your turn Javier.

September 17, 2014 - Keith Martin Shares Pictures From The Auction Last Night

Cesareo Perez served tirelessly as auctioneer for our Potluck/Auction last night.  Even with the mike not working (due to a dead battery), Cesareo's voice reached everyone in the room.  There was a lot of good items that were auctioned and many people ended up with valuable new treasures and the club treasury is a lot happier today, too.

Great job Cesareo!

If you missed being with us this year, mark your calendar for the third Tuesday in September 2015 and we'll look forward to seeing you next year.

Thank you to all of the people who worked tirelessly to make this evening a success and for everyone who contributed food, auction items and money to help out the club.

By the way, if you accidentally picked up a pair of black, spring loaded, plastic tongs let me or Ted Matson know and we can arrange for their return to him.

September 14, 2014 - Nathan Simmons Donates A Bonsai Pot To The Auction

Nathan's donation is an unglazed 12 in round pot.

Nathan calls out Al Rivera and Josh Miller to show us what you're bringing to the event and in turn to call out more of our members to do likewise.

September 14, 2014 - DBS Previews Its Auction Items For September 16 Auction/Potluck

Nathan Simmons has sent me pictures of the following items that DBS is supplying for the Auction part of the Auction/Potluck event at Descanso Gardens this Tuesday, September 16.

Everyone is invited to attend:  members, guests and bonsai club members of other Los Angeles bonsai clubs.  Come one, come all.

These trays are 17 in, 21 in and 24 in.

This pot is 18.5 in.

This pot is 12 in.

This pot is 12 in.

This 20 inch stand came from the Komai estate sale.

September 9, 2014 - Michael Jonas Donates Old Olive To The Auction

In the spirit of the ALS ice bucket challenge, I am encouraging everyone to have fun showing us what you are bringing to the DBS Auction on September 16 at Descanso Gardens and to call out your friends to do the same.

The auction is open to everyone:  members, friends and guests.  We will be gathering around 6:30 pm for a tram ride and for drinks and appetizers.  We eat around 7:00 and the auction will commence around 8:00.

Come one, come all.  Let's have some fun.

Here's what I am bringing.  An old olive with good branch development that I have been working on for a few years.  I think it belonged to Joaquin Quiroz before me and I don't know how long he had it.

A slightly lower view of the tree.  It is 18 in tall and 17 in wide and the base of the tree is 5-6 in wide.  It is planted in an old Japanese unglazed pot.

Looking down from above shows great distribution of the branching.

The rough bark is a prominent feature of the trunk.  This is no spring chicken!

So now I want to call out Al Rivera, Ellen Keneshea and Cesareo Perez.  Show us what you're bringing by emailing me some pictures and I'll post them for everyone to see.  Then it's your turn to call out some other members of the club.

Have fun with it!

See you at the auction.

September 9, 2014 - Up For Auction At Our September 16 Meeting

Fred Seeley is donating this kengai, cascade-style, square pot to the DBS auction.  Thank you Fred.  Now who else has something to offer?

August 25, 2014 - Pictures from our Hands-on Evening

Cesareo Parez assists Gloria Clark.

Michael Jonas teaches our newest member, Vahe Zackarian, how to do spring candle pruning on his Japanese Black Pine.

Al Rivera works on his beautiful Shimpaku Juniper under the watchful eye of Peu Porter.  Al received assistance from Ray Blasingame during the evening.

Jim Barrett advising Fred Seeley on the development of his trees.

Judy Pelling receiving styling advice from Marge Blasingame on Jim's and Judy's Foemina Juniper.

Cesareo also seen advising Elaine Jeche on styling her Prostata Juniper.

Photos by Ryan Wells

August 19, 2014 - Get Your Hands Dirty Tonight

Just a reminder that tonight at Descanso Bonsai Society we will be working on our own trees with the help of our more advanced members.  Stop by with or without something to work on and join us for an enjoyable evening.

To show what years of development can do, observe the way my San Jose juniper has changed over time.

This is the way I had styled it in May 2009.  Years earlier I had shortened a much taller tree to show the wonderful movement near the soil level and turning some thick branches on the trunk into jins, I thought that this was a good first effort, but though it was interesting styled this way, I thought it too tall and wanted eventually to emphasize the thrust of the movement to the left more than the height.

I repotted the tree from its larger growing pot into a much shallower one in 2012 that seemed to make the tree seem larger and the size and the color of the pot is more complimentary to the tree in its new style.

It's August 2014 and I just finished rewiring the same tree and I think that it is coming along pretty well.  I think that I will be pretty happy when the padding is more developed and I shorten the right side foliage a little more.

What do you think?

August 4, 2014 – DBS Workshop Scheduled For August 19

At our next scheduled regular meeting, we will be having the opportunity to get to work on our own bonsai and pre-bonsai materials.  On this night we will not be having a demonstrator, but we will have instruction and advice from our more advanced members.

Jim Barrett, Kathy Benson, Ted Matson, Cesareo Pérez, Pete Macasieb, Michael Jonas, Marcus Juniel, Ellen Keneshea, Marge and Ray Blasingame and Nathan Simmons, to name a some of the advanced members of the club, who may attend and if so will be available to offer their advice on shaping and developing your trees.

Bring in your tools and plants and lets see what can be created from this group club effort or come in and watch the fun and maybe learn some new techniques to use on your trees.

Please bring something to cover the table that you will be working on and at the end of the evening please clean up your work area.  We will be having refreshments and a raffle, so a good time should be available for all who attend.

Guests are always welcome to join us.

Kathy Benson

Cesareo Perez

Jim Barrett

July 18, 2014 - Pictures from the Michael Jonas Bunjin Demonstration

Photos provided by Ryan Wells.

Yoko Zipusch talks about her two Saikei niche display.

Yoko Zipusch Saikei #1

Yoko Zipusch Saikei #2

Michael talks while he first cleans the tree

The audience is invited to take a closer look

This bunjin style will work well in a shallow drum or namban-style pot

Wire all the branches first

Then bring the branches down and cut them to length

Nathan Simmons calls tickets while the demo tree awaits its new owner

Al Rivera wins the Japanese oval pot

Marty Hagbery wins the bunjin tree

June 23, 2014 - Pictures From The Novice Room During The Show

E.K. Waller First Place in category and Most Artistic

July 13, 2014 - Michael Jonas Demo Tuesday July 15th

Michael Jonas doing a demo in the meadow during the 2008 DBS annual show. 

DBS President, Michael Jonas will be the featured demonstrator for our Tuesday, July 15th meeting.  Michael has been involved with bonsai for about 20 years and started taking classes with Kaz Yoneda and Sam Nakano in the early to mid 90s at Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery.  Later he was fortunate to attend classes with Ted Matson at Ted's home in Pasadena, where he first started to develop his personal bonsai style.  Ted's attention to detail and horticultural knowledge was very helpful in developing good habits that produced healthy, well groomed trees. Michael studied for a time with David Nguy in an effort to improve his wiring technique and found David to be a gentle, but demanding teacher.  One time Michael asked David what he thought about a tree that he was displaying at the GSBF Bonsai-A-Thon, hoping to get a critique of the shape and styling of the foliage.  David looked at the tree for a short time and the said, "You crossed a wire."  Michael said, "But that's not what I was asking you about."  David said, "But I am your wiring instructor." In the past, Michael has had the opportunity to work with Marco Invernizzi and Kenji Miyata in workshops held at Denny Roche's home.  What a great setting and what wonderful excellent instruction.  Of course lunch consisted of Denny's signature chili and franks. In the past, Michael has also had the good fortune to have had such visiting notables as Walter Pall, Peter Warren, and J.T. (John Thompson) stay at his home while they were in town holding workshops and doing demos for clubs.  Their styling tips and advice has been invaluable. Michael has been acting as Mauro Stemberger's agent for his visits to Southern California and he has benefitted greatly from working with Mauro during the long, full days working on client's private collection trees.  Wiring has improved greatly as well as pad formation.  New techniques to learn show up every time Mauro is in town. Recently Michael has learned new grafting techniques from Tom Vuong, who is a masterful grafter.  His results are amazing and he is generous with sharing his techniques with others. Finally, Michael has taught classes at House of Bonsai and will soon begin teaching classes at his home in Reseda, CA. Come out and see what you can learn from our club's President and have an enjoyable evening of bonsai.

June 19, 2014 – Pictures from David Nguy's Demo Tuesday June 17th

Photographer Ryan Wells has graciously shared his photography with us for this event.

Nathan Simmons niche display for the evening also won top awards in the novice category at the DBS Annual Show this past weekend.

Cesareo Parez, birthday celebrant, standing before our heavily-laden refreshment table Tuesday night.

Jillian, Cesareo's wife, delivers the cake after we all sang Happy Birthday.  We missed hearing Cesareo's incredible voice this time.

Yep!  It's time for cake.

David Nguy discussed care and timing of black pine trees before beginning to work on the tree he brought for the demo.

David said that working on black pine is easy as you only need to work on them twice a year.

David described how black pines grow indicating current year growth, last year growth and older needles on a tree.

Yoko and others are invited to take a closer look at the structure of the tree.

At the break many people came up for a better view.

David continued to work during the break.

The branches are wired and trimmed for length.

We're back from the break and David finishes the initial styling of the tree.  He explained that he was leaving the top leader to help create thickening of the top branches and that part will be cut off in the future.

Ryan turns out to be the ecstatic winner of the tree.  Michael Jonas took this picture.

June 17, 2014 – Bonsai On Display

Johnson Chong sent me this picture of the center isle of our show this weekend.  Thank you all for sharing your trees and your energy to make this another wonderful weekend.

June 16, 2014 - David Nguy Is Our June Meeting Demonstrator

The very talented and informative bonsai artist, David Nguy, is our featured June 2014 demonstrator.  David is very popular in Southern and Northern California, staying busy performing demonstrations at most of our Southern California local bonsai clubs, GSBF Conventions and at Bonsai-A-Thon, the fund raising weekend dedicated to support of the GSBF Collection at the Huntington Library.

David's trees are elegantly designed and his Japanese Black Pines feature balance and uniformly short needles, which is a hallmark of some of the best examples of this type of bonsai.  His California junipers are often show stoppers as the two following examples of his art show.

David's California juniper featured at the entrance to the California Bonsai Society annual show March of 2011 at the Huntington Library.

David's California juniper displayed at the Golden State Bonsai Federation Convention at Riverside, CA in November 2009.

Don't miss this opportunity to hear a top bonsai artist at our club Tuesday June 17th.

June 14, 2014 – DBS Annual Show 2014

This weekend at Descanso Gardens we are holding our annual show with a Saturday Night Reception beginning at 6:00 p.m. this evening.  We will have a great raffle and auction so plan to attend.

The following two trees are examples of some of the wonderful bonsai art that is on display that were shot during setup on Friday.

June 16, 2014 - Michael Jonas Demo

Club president, Michael Jonas, styled a Kyushu juniper, which was donated to DBS by member Hank Fawcett, that was one of the many items that was auctioned at the evening reception.

The material before the work began.

The tree after it was styled.

May 31, 2014 – Ted Talks

Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing Ted Matson knows that he is meticulous and is filled with a wealth of insightful information on whatever subject he is talking about. He was our demonstrator for May and as usual he had a great deal of information to share with us. A friend of mine who attended the meeting said that he learned a great deal about the art bonsai that he never knew before. He was very impressed with Ted and the nuances of displaying trees in shows. The following are some of the key points from that discussion.

Ted said the idea of using moss on bonsai derived from a Japanese tradition that dirt in one’s home did not honor guests. So when bringing in a plant to use in a Tokonoma, a meditational area in the house that is used to display signs of the season such as bonsai, ikebana, or scrolls, that is covered in and planted in dirt, one had to cover the soil. Hence the use of moss.

To get moss to grow and have a settled look, prepare a mix of half adobe soil (contains clay) and half peat moss. Adobe soil is abundant in the San Fernando Valley. During the rains it is a sticky mess that attaches to ones shoe if you step on it and is a hardened rock-like mass when dried out. Take equal amounts of each and shred them through your smallest screen. It take some effort, but when you combine the ingredients and add sufficient water to make a butter-like consistency, you end up with muck, which has many uses. In a covered plastic container it lasts for a long time.

Collect your moss and clean it before buttering the underside with muck. Then place it onto you bonsai soil to create a beautiful covering. Think about not creating a lawn-like effect, but create areas that might have formed naturally like next to a tree trunk or under a leaf-shaded portion of soil.

Using new moss is better than trying to patch older, tired, heat stressed areas of moss. Use pieces of moss and fit it together rather than trying to use one whole sheet of moss for the tree. Typically, the edges of newly placed moss will dry out during the show. Try to redo your moss early to allow it to settle in to its new environment.

Since we have had instances of three days of 105 degree heat with Santana winds and 7 percent humidity, many trees are showing foliage burn and junipers, for example, are showing yellowing followed by dropping brown needles. Ted recommends not cleaning the needles now, but waiting until two days before the show to do it. He also recommended using fish emulsion to help the greening of the foliage at this time.

On a tree that features jin and shari, a little moss near the trunk is appropriate. A heavy soil covering of moss would seem to belie the natural environment that the tree would have been found in.

He said that the use of black scoria is not recommended as a top dressing, because the only place that one might find a tree naturally occurring in that environment is Hawaii. Probably the same is true for the red variety.

Defoliating all of the leaves or most of the heavier outside leaves six weeks before the show can yield you with a beautiful covering of tender new small leaves on you deciduous trees. Timing is sometimes a challenge and weather plays a factor in this method, but the results are amazing if you get the timing right.

Just before you complete the preparation of your deciduous show tree, Ted recommends that you put it in front of a white wall and observe the distribution of leaves. Try to balance the areas of foliage so they all have equal weight and that there are areas where one can see some white through the leaves. Take off leaves that point down or are vertical to the branches to achieve a natural pleasant look to the tree.

Ted said that since we usually don’t have every size and shape of display stand available for our use, try to use a stand that allows your tree to be at a good height for viewing and one that allows the pot, that the tree is planted in, to fit into the frame in the center of the top of the table and not extend to the table’s edge.

Ted suggested that a heavier tree can display well on a bulky, more solid appearing stand, where a more delicate tree would look better on a stand with some degree of light design details.

When selecting a pot for a tree that features flowers or fruit, matching or contrasting colors of those elements should be considered as they draw the viewer’s attention to those features.

Accent plants or secondary bonsai should not overpower the viewer’s attention by appearing too large or too showy. If one uses a bonsai for a two tree display, both trees should not appear to be the same in shape, type of tree, near the same height or be equal in visual weight.

In a three element display, do not put the third element in the exact middle of the other two elements or on a straight line between them. Try to create an uneven triangular shape for your display. Use different height, sizes, and shapes of stands. Using a flat, black disc without feet works very well for accent plants.

Pull all weeds and clean your pots with a light dressing of mineral oil two of more days before the show. Wipe off excess oil.

Use a solution of half water, half lime sulphur on shari and jin elements one week before the show and then set into full sun. Adding five drops of India ink to your working solution can give the wood an aged, gray look. Using an India ink wash directly on the wood after using lime sulphur can create interesting depth to otherwise flat driftwood-looking wood. Wash or brush off areas on live veins that have gotten some lime sulphur on them.

May 9, 2014 - Ted Matson Demonstration on Tree Display

Our own popular Ted Matson will be describing the effective ways to properly display our bonsai on stand with accent plant.  He is requesting that members bring in their trees, plants and stands to provide a variety of items for him to use while describing the intricacies of formal display.

Ted is well know around the United States and it is a pleasure to have him in town and not traveling to his many groups of bonsai students in other states.

Drop in and see Ted as a member or as a guest of the club.

April 10, 2014 - Frank Goya Visits DBS

Frank Goya was the featured demonstrator at our April 2014 meeting.  Frank created a saikei during the evening that was up to his typical excellence.

First Frank and his assistant, Robert King, DBS member and a student of his at the Marina Bonsai Club, removed the extra soil from the three nana junipers that Frank had grown and styled.

Next he arranged the rocks followed by the trees and the small ferns and flowering plants.

Frank then talked about his completed saikei and the second one that he donated to the club.

Frank created a beautiful saikei that showed his skills in this wonderful living artform.

Thank you Frank.  We look forward to seeing you at the club again and again.


March 26, 2014 - Our New Site is Finally Active

As of today Descanso Bonsai Society's new website is active on our new hosting service.  We have a new look and will we be improving the site over time.  For now I am just so happy to have succeeded in being able to announce the beginning of a new era for DBS.

Let me know how we can improve the new site and if you wish to submit pictures, an article or make a comment please contact Webmaster Michael Jonas email Michael.

The suitability of your submission will be subject to the judgment of the website staff and of the elected members of the DBS board.

Please be patient as we continue to populate the site with interesting and up to date content.