Austin Bonsai Society

April 2001

President’s Message

Candy Hansen

A large number of us attended the Lone Star Bonsai Federation Convention this past weekend in Dallas. I think there were about 20 of us there, having a great time, seeing some interesting speakers, learning new 'stuff', doing and watching workshops, making new and renewing old acquaintances. A good time was had by all . . . wish you had been there, too!

We seem to have the reputation of the most active club in the entire state, and lots of people are trying to figure it out, not knowing that we have the most enthusiastic, growing group in the state. At the last evening banquet, our convention plans for next year with San Antonio were announced for all, and attracted some interest. Naturally, we have lots to do to put on a great show, and Chuck Ware will keep us all on task to prepare a show as memorable as this one!

My family and I will be in New Orleans this month for the ABS/GNOBS show, so Gloria Norberg will preside and you will learn some neat art techniques to draw and complement your bonsai. Have a great time.

Calendar of Event

Apr. 11 Monthly Meeting
Art Night with Alisan
7:30 PM
Zilker Garden Center
Refreshments by:
Elaine White
Audrey Lanier

Apr. 18 Board Meeting
7:00 PM
Zilker Garden Center

Apr. 25 Members workshop
with Vito Megna
7:30 PM
Zilker Garden Center

April 11-15 ABS in New Orleans

April 20-22 Mid Atlantic Bonsai Assn.
East Hanover, NJ

April 27-29 25th Anniversary
Nat’l Bonsai/Penjing Museum
Washington, DC

May 12-13 San Antonio’s Annual Show
Auld House@Botanical Gard.

May 18-20 Australian Asso. Bonsai Clubs

May 19-20 Austin’s Annual Show
10 AM to 5 PM

May 25-28 Bonsai Societies of Florida

May 31-June 4 4th World Conv.

Oct.15-19 Bonsai on Board: BCI 2001
Majesty of the Seas


Mountain Top Experience with Mike Hansen will be our program in May.

Alisan Clarke will present Art Night at our April meeting. You will have an opportunity to learn from this very gifted artist. She will have supplies - pencils, pens, ink - so that you can learn in the medium you are most comfortable with. All you need to bring is your enthusiasm to learn. This will also help you understand the “line” of your bonsai and see the inner beauty.

ALSO, please bring show and tell trees or items - we can use them in our art night!

General Meeting Minutes

David Gordon

The March 2001 meeting of the Austin Bonsai Society was called to order by President Candy Hansen.

motion that the business meeting be suspended so more time would be available for the main program was made and passed by the members.

Elaine White requested volunteers for the Permanent Bonsai Collection booth at the upcoming Zilker Garden Festival.

Chuck Ware encouraged members to attend the LSBF convention to be held March 23, 24, and 25 in Dallas.
Gloria Norberg introduced the guest artist for the evening, Mr. Susumu Nakamura.

Board Meeting Minutes

David Gordon

The March 2001 board meeting of the Austin Bonsai Society was called to order by President Candy Hansen. Members in attendance were Els Ulug, Jim Baumann, Gloria Norberg, Pat Ware and David Gordon. Past president Alisan Clarke and Chuck Ware were also present.

A motion was passed to accept the minutes from the previous meeting and the Treasurer's report was given by Pat Ware.

Old Business

The formal display done by Candy and Mike Hansen at the last meeting was discussed. It was decided we will continue to have a formal type display at each meeting.

The program for the April general meeting was discussed. The meeting by Mike Hansen scheduled in the yearbook for April has been changed to May. Alisan's Art Night will be presented in April.

The Garden Council report was given by Pat Ware.

Chuck Ware will represent our club at the Texas Star's presentation at the LSBF Convention in place of Mike Hansen.

New Business

There was discussion of paying for Mr. Nakamura's program. His fee is $300. Participating members in the program paid a total of $135. A motion was made by Gloria Norberg that his fee be taken from the Artist #2 fund in the budget. Motion was seconded and passed.

Chuck Ware announced that Hal Mahoney contacted him regarding a Claft style class he is offering. Program chairman Gloria Norberg asked Chuck to discuss details of the program with Mr. Mahoney before we make a commitment.


Yvonne Padilla

In the world of Bonsai the Banyan tree is widely used as an excellent choice for Bonsai. The Ficus species is a member of the banyan family and there are around 600 varieties of Ficus. Planted in the ground in warm climates, these trees can take over and strangle every thing in their path. Referring to the “Guiness Book of Records 1991” is the great Ficus benghalensis located in the Indian Botanical Garden in Calcutta. This tree boasts 1,775 supporting aerial roots, a circumference of 1,330 feet, covers three acres and dates back to 1787. Well, we won’t try to find a container to fit a tree that size. Since there are so many varieties to choose from, a collections of several is possible. Ficus are easy to grow in this area and I highly recommend them for the novice.

Most Ficus develop aerial roots. For the roots to develop, they need a nice warm climate and lots of humidity. You may choose to keep the roots or cut them off. When the trees get to a more mature stage, they usually develop figs. The tiny figs vary in color from green when they first appear, to dark brick red with light green spots as they mature. Since there are so many varieties, there are many different leaf shapes making the trees more interesting.

The Ficus is suited for many different styles of Bonsai: broom, informal and formal upright, root over rock, forest, saikei and others. They are tropical, but a very tough species.

Reprinted from Corpus Christi Bonsai Club Newsletter,March, 2001

Moo the Dew!

Experiments conducted in Brazil have shown that a solution of fresh cow’s milk in water can be as effective as conventional fungicides for controlling powdery mildew on greenhouse grown plants. In most cases, solutions of ten percent or more milk applied twice weekly performed at least as well as benomyl or fenarimol fungicides applied once a week. This should please growers looking for alternatives to synthetics - you’d be hard pressed to find a more “organic” fungicide than milk! (Note: Sprays containing thirty percent or more milk caused an innocuous mold to grow on the leaves.)

As for why fresh cow’s milk has fungicidal properties, researcher Wagner Bettiol points out that milk contains phosphates and potassium salts, both of which are known to help control powdery mildew. He also cites milk’s broad anti-microbial properties as a factor, saying that various constituents of milk has been shown to inhibit the growth of particular fungi, and that others may even induce systemic disease resistance in plants.

Reprinted from Bonsai News, Lake Charles Bonsai Society, September, 2000.

LSBF Convention 2001

Chuck Ware

It is over! You missed it!

We need to publicly send our thanks to the Dallas club for a wonderful convention. The primary objective of any convention is education and the interaction of bonsai enthusiasts. The 2001 LSBF Convention surpassed the basic objectives. The material was fine, the instructors well informed and enthusiastic, and the convention crew efficient and congenial. Great Job!!!!!!

Besides all the great bonsai, you missed seeing Craig Coussins “play the bowls”. And those brave enough, I was not one, to attempt to play the bowls on one’s own body. Very interesting!

I would like to praise the Austin contingent. Their large number, about 20, were seen everywhere. They were in every workshop, lecture, and even seen around the bar. The success of any club depends on the enthusiasm and personal involvement of all its members. I am proud to be a part of such a group as we look toward the 2002 Convention. I will totally ignore the comments regarding the fact “that I actually own a tie”.

Things To Do In April

John Miller

This is one of the more delightful times to be into bonsai. The renewed leaf growth and new flowers help bring a new elation to your spirit. Bonsai brings you closer to the world of plants than other forms of horticulture. I wouldn’t want to say that the rewards are greater but they certainly are different than other ways of raising plants. So stop and enjoy before getting out there and working your tails off.

Keep up the pinching and trimming. This is the time of year you can lose your ramification and shape in a hurry if you slack off. You will not generally be doing any major pruning at this time but, if your tree has slowed its spring flush of growth, you may be able to do some work. Elms and junipers don’t bleed much but maples and pines will weep considerably at this time of year. Watch the training wires - the tree can increase in diameter really fast.

Sunlight is a very important at this time of the year. It helps keep leaf size and internode distance down and is a must for good flower color. One year I had left some pink azaleas in the shade house where they also had some shade from a large tree. They were almost white when they opened. If you have your tree in a shaded or protected location, don’t move it to full sun directly. Give it more exposure gradually to allow the leaves to harden off. Plants can sunburn just like us only they turn brown instead of red.

Fertilized on a regular schedule but use a weaker solution until growth slows. Use a balanced fertilizer on most trees. Flowering and fruiting bonsai need one higher in phosphorus. When you go to a nursery, especially ones into organics, look for products which can supply trace elements. One that I use is Green Sand but others are just as good.

Insects and fungal disease love warm damp weather. My particular bane is leaf spot on elms and yaupons. Spray with a fungal spray if you see any spots on the leaves of your tree. Several insect pests can disfigure the plant, especially during the tender growth stage. Aphids especially and also some leaf eating worms. Spider mites usually don’t get much done during the cooler weather. Diazinon and Malathion can be used at a reduced strength. I have gone to a systemic spray such as Orthene which seems to give better control over a longer period. Environmentally, long lasting sprays are not desired but since I have better control spraying bonsai and do not spray it all around, I feel I am not damaging the world.

Reprinted from Fort Worth Bonsai Society Newsletter, April, 1997

Indoor Bonsai for Better Health

Spread the word that plants absorb toxins, such as formaldehyde and benzene, and may be the answer to solving sick-building syndrome.

If humans move into closed environments, they must take along plants, nature’s life-support system. It is important to have living plants in our homes and work environments. Plants absorb toxins and produce oxygen. The ficus is a listed variety that helps clean air in closed environments. It is a hardy choice and will do well under less-than-perfect surroundings.


Jeff Holmes

Haiku poets view small and large things in the world throughout the entire year, but winter is special. In general it is a time of peace and tranquility. Northern areas are covered in layers of snow that mute sounds and give a surreal quality to many normal surroundings such as buildings and trees. Southern areas experience cooler temperatures and more precipitation. Most plants go dormant, awaiting the coming of spring and a new year; a new period of growth and vitality.

In the western world, fall events predict the changes to come. The first signs of cooling temperature are usually in October when bonsai artists must begin making plans to winter-over tender trees.

Children at the door
dressed in costumes and laughter -

‘Trick or Treating’ me

Fall brings cooler air
Perhaps some rain - maybe none

But the sun still shines

The weather is changing. We look for signs to tell us how cold or how long this winter season will be so we know how much to protect our trees. Some weather signals are obvious, while others require more subtle observation.

Dawn coming early
with nightfall further away -

daylight savings time

New born, sky-borne clouds
whispering weather changes

but who will listen

Toad by my driveway
preparing to hibernate

for our short winter

As the weather gets colder we move our tropicals inside or put them in the greenhouse. We remove unnecessary wire and check to make sure what remains isn’t too tight. Hardier trees we leave out to enjoy the coolness with us. Some we place on the ground and protect the roots and pot with warming mulch.

The nighttime silence
of a fireplace burning wood

returns my childhood

Strong winds force the branch
to bend or break, giving in -

bamboo leaves just wave

During the winter we stay indoors and practice our haiku and sumi-e. On milder days we can go out looking for suiseki and bonsai to collect, or just enjoy nature.

No one notices
a buried stone’s character

until it/s unearthed

Looking for new stones
recent creations

from centuries past

Before we even realize it, winter is over. Anticipation of spring, the new vigor of our trees, and all our preparations for trimming, repotting, styling and watching them grow begin anew. In our minds spring begins another new year.

Small boys are yelling

at one another - and me

I’m now in the game

Cloud shadows ahead
softening the dolor green

where things are growing

Sunbeams through the clouds -
someone’s cautious prayers, or

just sunlight at rest

Reprinted from San Antonio’s Snips ‘n Clips, December, 2000

In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages. Haiku poetry has strict construction rules - each poem has only 17 syllables; 5 syllables in the first, 7 in the second, 5 in the third. They are used to communicate a pithy, timeless message, often achieving a wistful, yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity.

The essence of zen:

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.

But now it is gone.