Austin Bonsai Society

June 2000

President's Message

by Alisan Clarke

This past weekend was full of work for our bonsai show. I am sure Mike Powers will have a report for us elsewhere in the newsletter. Many thanks to our club members for their hard work, to our donors for the raffle, and to our vendors for their setup.

Terry Ward did two days of demonstrations for us and Ron Westra took many pictures of our trees.

We're off to the Lone Star convention at the beach in Corpus Christi. It should be an exciting time, especially for Sandra, our ABS appointee, and Els, who is going for Shohin. That gives us two club members in a special workshop with Chuck Ware. Let us be sure to tell our new members about all these fun events, so that they won't miss the fun and can plan for next year.

General Meeting Minutes

by Charlotte Cranberg

The regular meeting of the Austin Bonsai Society was called to order at 7:35pm on Wednesday, May 10, 2000 by President Alisan Clarke. She asked for a vote on the 12 person slate of officers for the American Bonsai Society Board of Directors. Pat Ware moved we accept the slate as presented. Bill Cody seconded and the motion passed.

Chuck Ware encouraged all to attend the Corpus Convention at the end of this month. He reviewed the workshops still available.

Pat Ware reminded members that the meeting in July will be on Saturday the 8th because of visiting artist Boon Manakitivipart. We will have a barbecue, provided by the club, with members bringing covered dishes. A sign up sheet will be at the June meeting.

Terry Ward passed out a survey for LSBF asking the membership their opinion on the annual convention. Most people preferred a summer date.

Gloria Norberg reported on a book from the library, Native & Naturalized Woody Plants by Brother Daniel Lynch.

Mike Powers gave us a lot of good and useful information about our upcoming annual exhibit.

Chuck Ware spoke about preparing our trees for our annual exhibit.

Alisan read the pros and cons that people had written concerning the permanent collection project that had been proposed by Elaine White. After discussion, a vote was take and the club voted 25 for and 6 against the proposal.

Chuck presented a proposal from the San Antonio Club to combined the 2002 & 2003 Conventions into one. This would be a joint venture under one chairperson and we will share responsibilities along with LSBF. All profits will be divided equally 3 ways. After much discussion, Eileen Deeter made the motion to do this and Marion Hastings seconded it. Motion passed unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30pm.

Yande Li

from Suzhou, China (southeast China) Mr. Li is currently the secretary general of the Society of Suzhou Landscapes Architects and Garden Designers. Also, he is the secretary general of the Suzhou Bonsai and Flower Society. He is in the U.S. working as the design consultant for Chinese Gardens. Our speaker had been the director of the Suzhou Institute of Gardens for about 15 years until his retirement two years ago. It provided him with a lot of opportunities to research in Chinese Classical Garden Design. The Institute has done a great deal of excellent work in both historical preservation and restoration, and New Chinese Garden Design (classical style) as well. Before that position, he had been teaching the Garden Design in Suzhou Garden Academy. Mr Li presents programs as his personal effort to do some cultural and art exchange while he is in the U.S. He has approximately 120 slides on Bonsai in China. Mr. Li will be accompanied by his son, Richard, who will serve as translator.

Permanent Exhibit 2005

Overwhelming support in May to go forward with a permanent exhibit was very gratifying. By the June meeting I hope to be able to report on how much land and approximately where our area will be. We will also know if Lone Star Bonsai Federation and each member club will support this project. I will have a sign-up sheet at the meeting so you can pick your area of interest. Also network with EVERYONE you know in other organizations for skills that they might volunteer! Elaine

Hope everyone had a lot of fun in Corpus Christi (we know Ron & Sherri did! THE big raffle winners) and that you are looking forward to the next convention in Dallas on March 24, 25, and 26, 2001

Excerpts of the following are from the BCI Diplomatic Mailbag which is a quarterly publication for BCI Clubs' Ambassadors

Bonsai Display Benches

by Kevin Bailey, UK

A good display bench is essential for the outdoor display of bonsai. Once your trees have developed to the stage where you are proud of them, keeping them on a purpose built bench has many advantages.

Among these are:

  • Healthy growth.
  • Regular observation allows evaluation and prevents problems from escalating.
  • Ease of maintenance.
  • Improved ramification through equal amounts of UV radiation.

Before you begin to plan your bonsai bench, make certain that the site is the best one possible. Some of the crucial considerations are:

  • Where would you get the maximum benefit and viewing pleasure from a display of your trees?
  • Which area of the garden is best to view from the house?
  • The site must be suitable for healthy growth of your trees - would it receive sufficient light?
  • Is there enough protection from prevailing winds?
  • Would it be affected by the wind tunnel created between nearby buildings?
  • Is it a low lying frost trap?

Then there is the question of safety - in terms of potential for damage by children (frequent footballs from next door, etc.) pets or pests.

The spot chosen must be convenient for watering and routine maintenance.

Adequate thought must also be given to the security of your treasured possessions.

Once the site is determined, decide which materials you favour for the construction. There are a few different options. Strength, stability and a pleasing form would be your aim. Timber uprights should be minimum of 4" x 4".

The price that you can obtain your materials for is likely to be a factor, so look around carefully for the best supplier.

  • Railway ties can be used for a chunky, solid looking bench, if available.
  • If you want a "smoother" finish you will probably have to buy new timber.
  • The timber should be pressure treated, if possible.
  • Concrete block may not sound attractive, but benches supported on decorative screen blocks or even flue liners can be very successful. The top is usually built with sturdy timbers.
  • Another option is brick or breeze block. The initial outlay will be higher but there is the benefit of longevity. If the foundation is secure, these can be laid dry, i.e. with no mortar, but on a very windy site a mortared structure would be best. If there is no footing, such as a patio slab available, it would be best to dig out a footing trench and lay concrete. Stagger the courses just as a bricklayer would. The top can be of sturdy timber nailed to battens to hold them in position, paving slabs or specially cast concrete tops.
  • Once you have decided on materials, draw up a rough plan. This probably best done as perspective sketch if you can manage it. Keep altering the dimensions until you are happy with the image. When a final idea has been determined, the rough sketch can be translated into an elevation and plan so that timber cutting lists can be made out.
  • If you can learn to use a 3D rendering package on a computer you can generate an animated "walk around" view of the proposed bench from all angles. This helps greatly in determining the optimum timber sizes and highlights construction details that may otherwise not be obvious.
  • To extend the life of your bench it should be treated with a plant friendly preservative every other year.
  • Start with the uprights for one end and keep checking for verticality with a spirit level.
  • Temporary 45 degree stays, nailed to pegs driven in well, will stabilize the structure until everything has been finished.
  • A well proportioned display bench will do far more that just set off your trees. It will give character to the display area, contribute to tree health, and even assist in the development of quality specimens.

Photo Opportunity

Michelle Walden took photos of every tree (and most of the accent plants) displayed in this year's show. The images will be available at: thewaldens/bonsai_show/indexl.html 

after 5pm on Monday, May 22. Photo-quality prints are available at 25 cents each, which covers the cost of supplies. Otherwise, feel free to right-click and save any images you like. Email print request to be sure to include the image name.

Also, had someone send me this website for:

Jim Allan, our webmaster, writes that pictures of our show are on: 

November 15, 16, 17, 2002

Put this date on your calendar and circle it!

Plan your vacation at that time!

Austin and San Antonio are combining with LSBF to have the State Convention at that time. It will be held at the Civic Center in New Braunfels. LSBF has formed a convention committee to have an active participation. Committee chairpersons are being named as we go to print. BUT, all members in BOTH clubs will be working with each other to make this a success. Everyone is excited about this new concept initiated at this Convention.

Look!!!! Plan Ahead

An open invitation has been sent to all the clubs in Texas telling them of our guest speaker in July, Boon Manakitivipart. So, if you want to be included in the workshop, send your money to Pat Ware, our treasurer, so you will not be left out. It is $50.00 and bring your own tree. It is a Saturday workshop, from noon to 4 PM with a barbecue dinner after and a lecture/demo after the dinner. Observers, dinner (bring a covered dish with you), and lecture/demo are free to our members.

Austin's Annual Show

Our chairman, Mike Powers, has declared our show a huge success. We had 1,627 people attend our show, which is only 90 short of last year's "blockbuster" turnout, but still double of what it had been in years past. Everyone had a good time and, of course, thought the trees were absolutely gorgeous (which we can all attest to, right?). 

Bonsai Tips: Right Idea, Wrong Time 

by Zachary Smith 

At last count, there were 14,367 errors that can be made in bonsai training - well, that's how many I've made. Seriously, however, my experience in making errors (and seeing the results of others) has led me to conclude that a large portion of training mistakes can be related to poor timing by the artist. Most of us are familiar with the standard development techniques used to create the framework of our bonsai, but all too often we get in a rush to get the tree potted, thereby producing a less-than-exciting work of art. 

For example, I have seen, in critique programs, bonsai-in-training in which there was an abrupt change in trunk taper. It was obvious that, during training, the artist removed the tree's leader with the goal of creating a new, tapering apex. This is a great way to improve your stock, a techniques all of us practice routinely. The only pitfall comes when you pot the tree too early. It is important to remember that, on potting, your tree's growth rate slows tremendously. That leader which was thickening nicely and promised to give you marvelous taper, has suddenly stopped thickening. The tree looks peculiar. 

The solution to this problem is to back up a step, as much as it bothers you. Put the tree back into the ground or into a larger development pot. This will invigorate it, and your leader's growth rate will pick back up. You must be sure, however, that you restrain side-branch growth, as this will sap energy from your apex. Once this reaches the proper thickness, you can resume side-branch development. 

Another problem I see (and have practiced myself) is the development of side-branch girth. In bonsai, a certain amount of mismatched side-branch thickness is all right, but we have all seen trees in which the number one branch (or another low branch) is of minuscule thickness compared to those occurring above it. It may be nicely ramified, which of course is one of your goals, but it looks peculiar. This is because the artist did not allow the branch to thicken sufficiently before reducing its length. Like me in times past, he/she could not bear to let that branch grow so long that it stuck way out and made the developing tree look strange. But you have to. Just as you don't pot a tree whose apex is underdeveloped, you don't ramify a branch which hasn't thickened sufficiently to be believable. Let it look funny for a while - you will be rewarded later. 

Reprinted from TEXAS BONSAI (LSBF Publication) Summer 1990 
Originally printed in Bonsai Society of Arcadiana newsletter May 1989

Board Minutes 

by Charlotte Cranberg 

The board meeting of the Austin Bonsai Society was called to order at 7:10pm on Wednesday, May 17th, 2000 by President Alisan Clarke. Present were Pat & Chuck Ware, Gloria Norberg, Mike Powers, Charlotte Cranberg, and Alisan Clarke. 

Pat Ware reported the cost to the club for Mas Imazumi's visit was $361.87. After discussion, it was decided that an invitation to the Boon workshop would be sent to all the Texas clubs. 

Mike Powers gave an update on the exhibit. The signs that Jimbo's sign company made have been placed in front of the Garden Center to advertise the exhibit. All agreed that they look great. 

The Civic Center in New Braunfels is being considered for our joint Convention with San Antonio and after discussion, the proposed date of November, 2002 was agreed. A committee from Austin & San Antonio will meet tomorrow to verify the facility. 

The meeting was adjourned at 8:25pm.