Austin Bonsai Society

March 2002

President's Message

by Candy Hansen

As I write this, we are having our coldest weather this season. I wonder why it always comes just when we are beginning to think of spring?? Probably when you get this newsletter, the weather will be back to 'normal', what ever that may be.

At our garden, repotting has begun in earnest. First the pines, which we are still working on, then in order of most cold hardy to least cold hardy, will come Korean Hornbeams, elms, maples, etc. Taking our trees out of their pots and inspecting them is a great chance to evaluate your growing habits. Are the roots healthy? Does the soil smell sweet? Is the soil still quite granular, or is it breaking down? If so, you may need to change your soil or re-pot more often. Some trees really like to be repotted every year, others less frequently.

For our March meeting, bring along the supplies Terry Ward requested for your planting, and come prepared to create a new masterpiece. If you are not planting, come to see what everyone else does.

Plan to prepare now for materials to work on with Boon when he visits in April. Look for more info elsewhere and/or come listen to what Gloria Norberg has to tell us at the March meeting.

Calendar of Events

Mar. 13 Monthly Meeting
Group Planting Workshop Terry Ward
7:30 PM Zilker Garden Center
Refreshments by: Elaine White Sheila Setter

Mar. 20 Board Meeting
7:00 PM Zilker Garden Center

Mar. 27 Members Workshop
7:30 PM Zilker Garden Center
Black Pine Repotting with Mike Hansen

Mar 21-24 California Bonsai Society Burbank, Ca.

Mar. 23-24 Lake Charles Bonsai Soc. Exhibit Burton Coliseum, Lake Charles, La.

Apr. 10-11 Regular Meeting & Workshop with Boon Manakitivipart

Apr. 20-21 Houston Bon. Soc. Spring show

May 17-19 Int'l Scholarly Symposium on Bonsai & Viewing Stones U.S. Nat'l Arboretum, Wash., DC originally scheduled Oct. 2001

May 17-19 Annual Austin Bon. Soc. Show

Jun 27-30 ABS Symposium Milwaukee, Wi.

Jul. 3-6 BCI 2002 Bonsai in the Sun Orlando, Fl.

Nov 15-17 State Bonsai Convention New Braunfels, Tx.

General Meeting Minutes

by Elaine White

Vice President Gloria Norberg called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. and thanked all who participated in the two collecting trips in January.

Gloria also thanked Greg Setter for bringing Nick Lenz down from his Dallas Seminars for a lecture and critique at the MBP Bonsai Studio.

Mike Hansen conducted the 4th Wednesday workshop on Black Pine. He covered optimum growing conditions and grooming techniques. It is not too late to join the workshop on February 27th. Roots will be discussed and observed as everyone will re-pot. There will be two more sessions in June and October.

Audrey and Charlotte were thanked for the delicious refreshments and Audrey also provided the beautiful Pinus thusabergii cortorta for the display.

Pat reminded everyone to please pay your dues and send e-mails if you haven't already. Charlotte has volunteered to be our Garden Council representative, replacing Don Rehberg. We owe Don a big thank you for many years of Council meetings. Charlotte announced a farewell party on Monday, February 25 at Zilker from 1:00 to 4:00 for Jim Parra, Garden Center Coordinator, who is retiring.

Els Ulug is the new raffle chairman and the Society still needs an exhibit/show chairman by May.

Sheila Setter, state convention co-chair announced that she has received 59 registrations already. 60% of the workshops are half full and there is one space left in the cypress workshop. Get your registration in now to get the one you want.

Gloria is collecting items for the raffle, so she briefly went over procedures. Contact her for a receipt book if you don't have one yet.

Our own Terry Ward was introduced as program instructor for group plantings. He will be instructing at the Bonsai Clubs International Convention in Orlando in July.

Terry reminded everyone that this is a two part program to be concluded at the March meeting. This will be "hands on" with everyone creating their own forest group planting. Please bring your own supplies: odd number of trees, pot, wire, soil, tools, mulch and moss if your have some.

Board Meeting Minutes

by David Gordon

The February board meeting of the Austin Bonsai Society was called to order by President Candy Hansen at 7:00 P.M. on February 20, 2002.

Pat Ware gave the treasurer's report. Forty-two members have paid dues so far this year. Deadline for members to pay their dues so they will be listed in the membership directly is February 28, 2002.

The minutes from the January 2002 meeting were approved as written in the newsletter.

A drawing will be held in May for club members for a free registration to the LSBF convention in November.

The Boon workshop was discussed. Wednesday will be the lecture-demo and Thursday will be the workshop.

Charlotte Cranberg has agreed to be the Garden Council representative. Els Ulug will be conducting the raffles. The club still needs to find someone to direct the annual show in May.

The Garden Center report was given by Pat Ware. Our participation was discussed. The club will put together a display similar to last year. Members who are volunteering to work at the Zilker Garden Festival are asked to contact David Gordon as he needs help with the holding area (where shoppers store purchases while they continue to shop).

Also, we were asked to put together information for a teachers outreach program to provide teachers with material to help them teach about Bonsai. It was agreed that we would participate, and details will be discussed later.

Gloria discussed the raffle for the LSBF convention. She will be presenting information to the club about items for the raffle and suggestions for contacting businesses for donations.

Meeting was adjourned by President Candy Hansen at 8:15 P.M.

Gloria Norberg requests:

All members who drink coffee Please save the lids from your 3 cans! Cans are not needed, JUST THE LIDS!!!!!!!

Sign Up at the Meeting or send your Check payable to ABS to the Treasurer $35.00 Workshop with visiting artist, Boon Manakitivipart on April 11, 2002

Web site for the Convention

March Program Group Planting Workshop

A 'Hands On' workshop to create your own group planting. Any size, from shohin up, can be made using as many trees as you like.

This will be an exciting workshop with lots of help available. The workshop will start with a brief review of design principals. If they wish, participants will be able to experiment with various designs before beginning work on their group planting. Participants will be broken into small groups width an instructor.

Each participant is responsible for bringing the trees, pots, tools, soil, muck, wire etc. that they will need.

Do you enjoy Schlitterbahn Waterpark??

Would you like to WIN four all-day adult passes?? Can be used either in New Braunfels or South Padre Island! You had two (2) opportunities! only 1 opportunity left! Buy a (or as many as you like) raffle ticket for $1.00 each in February or in March and the lucky ticket will be drawn at the March meeting. Take your family! Take your grandchildren! HAVE FUN IN THE SUN!!!!

Nick Lenz

On Wednesday, February 6th, the Austin Bonsai Society was treated to a slide presentation and lecture by A. Nick Lenz, from Leverett, MA. Following his presentation, Nick evaluated several members' trees and provided suggestions for future design considerations.

Nick's topic was "Designing Bonsai for the Future," and during the course of his discussion, he provided valuable tips for collecting trees and for developing believable root-over-rock stylings. Those in attendance were entertained not only by his clever musings and thoughtful insights, but also by his slides which offered a glimpse at the beautiful trees that Nick has styled and the bonsai pots which he has created. His creative approach to bonsai, like his "Root-Over-Bronze-Barbie" styling, is both an inspiration and a challenge to think "outside the box" ...or in this case, the pot. Those not in attendance missed a rare opportunity to observe the vision of a unique American bonsai artist and potter.

Japanese Yew

In the plant world there is always the potential for confusion when it comes to plant identification. I encountered this when I listened to people talk about their yew. It was like hearing the story of the blind men describing the elephant. How could there be so many different descriptions of one tree. The answer is simple. There is more than one tree.

The first distinction must be drawn between the Podocarpus and the Taxus. They were once united in the taxaceae family. The Podocarpus (podocarpaceae) has about 75 spp. of mostly dioecious, coniferous trees and shrubs, native to the temp. S. Hemisphere and to the mts. and highlands of the tropics, n. to the W. Indies and Japan. The most common species of podocarpus in our area is the macrophyllus. It is called the Southern Yew, Japanese Yew or the Buddhist Pine. It grows to 45 ft. , with leaves 4-5 in. long and 3/8 in. wide. It is considered a ZONE 8 tree. The variety Maki is widely cultivated in China and Japan.

The Taxus (taxaceae) is called the yew. There are 8 spp. of dioecious, evergreen trees and shrubs and they are native to the N. Hemisphere. The most common varieties are the English Yew (baccata) and the Japanese Yew (cuspidata). They will grow to about 50 ft. with leaves about 1 in. long. The cuspidata is hardy to ZONE 5. Notice the words Japanese Yew  is used for both trees. Down in south Texas this is referring to the podocarpus because it does well in the warm, moist climate. Up north it refers to the taxus as it thrives in the colder climate. Both trees are magnificent specimens to use for bonsai throughout Texas.

At the Convention Marc Noelanders will be working on the Yew. They have nice bases with lots of branching. The wood is very hard and this makes it ideal for carving. Marc is known for his carving artistry and these trees where selected specifically with him in mind. There is the potential for some magnificent results.


Even among insects, in this world,
Some are good at singing,
Some bad.

Encourage anyone you know that hasn't paid their dues as yet, to do so! There is going to be a drawing at the May meeting for all paid members. The "prize"will be a FREE Registration to the State Bonsai Convention in November Do not worry if you have already registered, and win, you will still get the registration.

Our Annual Show is May 18 & 19, 2002

Please start deciding which trees you will show and start grooming them for that date.

The Why, When, What, and How Much

By Butch Wilken

The obvious reason we prune our bonsai trees is to shape them into the style we want. Pruning affects the growth of the tree. Pruning wounds a tree and the tree puts on repair growth to seal off and heal the wound. The type of repair growth we stimulate is determined by numerous factors. The three we can control the most are: (1) the time of year we prune, (2) the amount of tree structure we remove, and (3) what part of the tree we prune. For pruning to have the effect we want on the tree, these three factors must always be considered. As with everything we do to our trees, pruning should be done on healthy trees. Old, weak trees and branches should not be pruned.


To know when to prune to achieve the effect on the tree we desire, we must understand the growth cycle of trees. Every tree goes through this yearly cycle--evergreen, deciduous, and tropical. Deciduous trees are the easiest to understand because the stages of the growth cycle are most obvious. It is easy to tell when they are approaching dormancy because the leaves change color and begin to fall off the tree. Dormancy is obvious when the tree has no leaves and the new buds haven't swollen yet. The beginning of a new growth cycle is obvious when bud start to swell and open into new leaves. The vigorous growth of summer tells us the tree is in the very active part of the cycle.

As trees go through this cycle, they produce and store nutrients when growth is active. They then survive on these stored nutrients when their leaves are lost and photosynthesis isn't occurring. These reserves are primarily stored in the trunk and roots. When lengthening days and increased temperatures signals the approaching spring, the stored nutrients begin to move out of the roots and trunk and into the developing leaf buds. This depletes the amount of stored nutrients available. If you pinch back at this time, the tree's response to this injury will result in slower and smaller new growth. The amount of energy left after the initial big spring push is lower and the growth response to this pinching in jury has less stored energy to use. The new leaves haven't matured fully yet and their photosynthesis hasn't reached full potential.

Pinching is a mild form of pruning. More severe pruning during the active spring growth period should be minimized due to the high flow of sap. Large cuts will "bleed"sap, and this moisture loss can be harmful to the health and vigor of the tree. Any large cuts that must be made should be sealed promptly to prevent this moisture loss. With all the new growth evident, winter die back is easy to identify and can be removed at this time.

Summer pruning can be divided into early and late summer periods. Early summer pruning benefits from the increased sap flow. This helps wounds heal more rapidly. By late summer, sap flow is diminishing, and any pruning at this time will result in new growth being smaller. It does deplete some of the nutrient reserves being stored for the coming winter. If the coming winter is unusually harsh, there may not be enough stored for the spring reawakening. Pruning too late in the summer may not allow the new growth sufficient time to harden off and mature before winter arrives. All the hoped for benefits from this pruning may be lost if the immature, new growth dies over the winter. It is best to prune only that which is absolutely necessary at this time of year.

Fall is the time trees are trying to store up necessary nutrients for winter survival and spring recovery. Since the leaves are the major producers of these nutrients through photosynthesis, we must try and keep the leaves on the tree during the fall. No leaf pruning, The food storage in the roots, trunk, and branches causes them to thicken. It is best to remove all wires during this time to prevent them from cutting in and scaring the tree. Since we don't know how severe the coming winter will be, we don't know how much die back will occur. Therefore, it is best to minimize pruning in the fall.

During the early winter dormant period, the tree's ability to heal any pruning wounds is greatly diminished. Pruning should be avoided to prevent excessive die back. In late winter, the tree is getting ready to send the stored nutrients back to the branches and buds. Since these reserves haven't moved out of storage yet, severe pruning will not diminish these reserves. The tree will respond in the spring with vigorous growth because there are now fewer buds and growth points remaining to be fed by the same amount of stored nutrients.

Editor's note: Butch Wilken is also a member of our club. This was published in the January, 2002 issue of the Houston Bonsai Society's newsletter and is the first of two installments.