Austin Bonsai Society

May 2000

General Meeting Minutes

Charlotte Cranberg

 The April meeting of the Austin Bonsai Society was called to order at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, April 12th, at the Austin Area Garden Center by President Alisan Clarke.  She announced that the permanent tree collection proposed by Elaine White will be voted on at the May meeting.  Members are urged to read about it in the previous newsletters and ask any questions they may have ahead of time.

Chuck Ware brought in a Wrightii Religiosa, one of the workshop trees for the convention in Corpus Christi.  He also discussed the other trees and workshops to be presented.

Sheila Ward introduced guests and new members.

The new outdoor signs for our yearly show, made by Jimbo, were displayed to the group.

Elaine White asked that everyone take flyers for our bonsai exhibit and distribute them to business establishments.

Mike Powers, Exhibit Chairman, told the group to groom their trees and clean pots in anticipation of the exhibit in May.

Next month, he will bring a sign up sheet for volunteers for the show.  Everyone is encouraged to bring at least one tree for display and all are urged to help with the Friday night set up.

Jim Allan introduced visiting master, Mas Imazumi, who presented a lecture/demo on a Blue Atlas Cedar.  The tree was raffled off and Ron Westra won it.

The meeting adjourned at 9:15 PM.

Creating A Kengai (Cascade) Bonsai

Mas Imazumi
Berkeley, Calif.
(With his permission)

The Kengai (Cascade) bonsai is a beautiful bonsai style and needs special techniques in its creation.  I hope the following instructions will provide you with the information you need to complete a bonsai in the cascade style.


Most Junipers are ideal cascade material, especially the Juniperus chinensis sargentii (Shimpaku) or Juniperus procumbens nana and procumbens prostrata.  Also, I particularly enjoy working with the Cedrus atlantica glauca (Blue Atlas Cedar).


Select the branches you wish to keep.  It is best to alternate branches, and if you are not sure about removing a branch, keep it.  Of course, remove the small branchlets and twigs growing out of the trunk so you will have a clean trunk line to work with.


Raffia is best to use to wrap the trunk of the tree as it protects the trunk when you do the heavy wiring and disintegrates over time.  (Soak raffia well before using.)  Tie raffia at the base of the trunk.  You should have determined the direction in which you wish to bed the trunk for your cascade.  Keeping the strands of raffia together (four or five strands at a time), place them along the trunk opposite the direction of the future bend.  Every so often, tie this raffia to the trunk with a small (1 mm) piece of wire to keep raffia in place.  (This wire is later removed when wrapping of the trunk is done.)  Place the raffia all the way to the tip of the tree.

Main Trunk Wiring

First Step - Prepare a 5 mm aluminum wire by cutting a length a little longer than from trunk base to tip of tree.  Poke one end into the soil about two inches deep near the raffia knot at base of trunk.  Hold this wire with your thumb and with the other hand bend the wire back towards you and then push it onto the trunk, over the raffia, repeating this movement every so often.  At this point it is not necessary to extend the wire all the way to the tip.  The bend/push maneuver assures that the wire will closely follow the trunk line.

After you have gone a ways up the trunk with the wire, take four or five strands of raffia, push the end  under the wire and bring these strands down to the trunk base. Start wrapping the trunk with the raffia clockwise over the 5 mm wire.  After wrapping about two to three inches, start wrapping  counter-clockwise, first pushing the raffia under the wire and then proceeding as before. Doing this will keep the wire tightly bound to the trunk so it won't move in any way during the bending process later.  Continue changing direction from clockwise to counterclockwise as you wrap the trunk, being sure to wrap it very tightly.  When you reach any of the 1 mm wire, remove it.   Don't forget to do this, as this little wire can very quickly begin biting into the trunk.

When the raffia strands begin to thin out, and there is still more trunk to wrap, take a new set of four to five strands, place about two inches on prior raffia wrap, push under the 5 mm wire and continue the wrapping.  Anytime you reach 5 mm wire that hasn't been aligned to the trunk, use the same bend/push motion as before, and do this as often as needed.   If you need a rest, or are interrupted while wrapping, place the remaining portion of raffia strands under your wire so it will stay tight and not start unraveling.  When you reach near the end of the trunk, where branches are thinner, discontinue wrapping.  Tie raffia strands well so there will be no chance of having it unravel.

Second Step -  Cut 5 mm wire one and a half times the length of the trunk if the trunk is of fairly large caliper.  If of a smaller caliper, cut one and one third the length of the trunk.  Now, start spiral wiring on the main trunk, keeping spirals about 50 degrees apart.  First, of course, anchor this wire in the soil at trunk base.  When you reach the point near the end where there is no raffia, wire somewhat loosely so wire won't bite into the trunk when you bend in that area.

Now, anchor a second 5 mm wire, cut one and one fourth the length of the trunk, and wire it in a spiral fashion between the first wire spirals.  This method may not look neat, but it will help prevent the trunk from cracking during the bending process.

Bending the Trunk

Now the fun begins!  If the trunk is of fairly small caliper, bend it in the direction you wish it to go using both hands, one near the base of the trunk (to keep from lifting it out of the pot), and the other up the trunk where you wish to begin the bend.  Slowly and carefully bend the trunk, keeping the pressure as even as possible.  If the trunk is of a large caliper, you will need to use branch benders.  Try to make a sharp first bend, 90 degrees or better if possible, to avoid the "teapot handle" appearance.  To hold this bend, you may use a turnbuckle system, covering the wire with tubing where it will be around the trunk.  Make further bends in the trunk as indicated by your trunk line, keeping any branches outside bends and bring the tip of the trunk, which I term the apex, toward the front base of the trunk.


Primary Branches - Start wiring your primary branches, beginning at the bottom (the apex of the tree).  When these are all wired, place them the way you want them, being sure to keep them in a horizontal line.  At this time, you can remove branches that you were doubtful about at first, and cut off any that interfere with other branches, are directly over another branch, or too close to another branch.  Strive for an "airy" feeling.  Remember that, although the cascade may look skimpy at this time, branches will fill out in the future and give a beautiful appearance to your cascade.

Secondary/tertiary branches and twigs - After you have completed primary branch wiring, begin the fine detail wiring on remaining branchlets and twigs.  Usually it is wise to wait before wiring the really tiny twigs until they have developed further - otherwise, you may break them.  Remove any growth below a branch so you will have a nice clean line on your primary branch.


If the time is right, you may plant your tree in a cascade pot.  Please refer to the illustrations which picture the right way to plant a full cascade, using an eight or nine inch deep pot, either round or square in shape.  This may be place on a tall cascade stand when being exhibited .  If your cascade doesn't come down more than 2/3 in a taller pot (as illustrated), it is all right to use one.  Remember, when you use a tall pot, your stand for exhibiting must be low, or a slab style, never use a tall stand with a tall pot.

When potting, be sure to have one to one and a half inches of gravel in the bottom of the eight or nine inch pot, and four to fives inches of gravel in the bottom of a tall pot.

General Observations

In cascades, the lowest point (or tip) of the trunk is the apex and the top of the cascade is the crown.  This is the reverse of what we generally consider as the apex of a bonsai.  Do not allow the crown of the cascade to overgrow, as this will weaken the apex.  Keep the crown slow-growing by pinching and trimming.

If you wish to create a double trunk cascade, follow the same procedure as for the single trunk.

After potting, place your tree in the full sun unless you live in a very hot climate, in which case keep it in filtered sun during the hottest time of day.  Using your judgment on this, keep in mind that evergreens quickly become
"leggy" with straggly growth if kept in a shady area.  If you have created a maple cascade, place it in the same area as your other maple bonsai.

Four weeks after potting, begin a fertilizing program.  It is especially beneficial to mist the cascade with Miracle-Gro (R) in the following manner during the growing season:

First -  Mist only the lower third of the cascade.
Second -  After ten days, mist the lower third and  middle third.
Third -  After a further ten days, mist the entire tree.
Fourth - Let it stand for ten days, then repeat this program.

Note:  when misting (and do this in the early morning or evening), be sure you drench the foliage well -- the fertilizing mixture should be dripping from the foliage.  If you do this faithfully, your apex should be healthy and not have the weak appearance I see on too many cascades being exhibited.

Six month after potting, at least one or two times a month, soak your cascade in a Miracle-Gro (R) solution for 30 minutes.  The solution should reach the pot rim.  Continue this program during the growing season to enhance foliage color and keep the entire cascade in a healthy condition.  I find this also the best way to be sure the bottom of the root ball gets well fed and watered.  Additionally, with my cascades, I place the pot in a shallow pan of water two to two and one half inches deep, with Miracle-Gro (R) added to the water.  Add more water or fertilizer as needed, and remove after one week.  Using this procedure once a month during the growing season further helps your tree to remain healthy and flourishing.  Note:  if a tall pot is used, place in five inches of solution.

Finally, using the method on cascades I have outlined in this article assures that you will have a cascade bonsai which you will be proud to exhibit and which, most importantly, will always give you pleasure as you view it in your garden.

Please give ALL your volunteer hours to our Garden Council Representative, Don Rehberg.

The article below seems appropriate being we have our show coming up; and some of our newer members can use this
to build up their confidence.  The author will be our guest in October.

Exhibit Visitors Say the Darndest Things!

by Herb Gustafson (with his permission)

Just finished a one-man show in a mid-sized town.  I had to laugh at some of the remarks I overheard while "babysitting" the trees.  I was able to engage many of the people but some were lost due to busyness on my part or not wanting to be engaged on their part.


 "Are these banzais or Ming trees?"
  "This banzai is a fake.  The branches are just wired on."
  "Look at the cute pine cones on this fir tree!"
  "I wonder if these pine cones are glued on?"
  "Oh, no!  These pine cones are on upside down!"
  "Look!  This maple tree has little fruits on it!"
  'Three hundred years old.  I bet he didn"t grow that himself."
  'Nuthin"to growin' these tinks.  Ju' plant da seed in a orange peel!"
  "I wonder if you have to water them?"
  "These aren't banzais.  A banzai is a different kind of tree.
  "Are you John Naka?"
  "Don't touch that!  That's poison oak!
  "Acer Campest...something.  Must be the scientific name for poison oak.
  "That almost looks like a real tree!"
  "Look!  A forest that has a whole bunch of trees in it!"
  "This one's even got dwarf bugs on it."
  "How much for this one?"
  "Doesn't it hurt them to be outside here?"
  "Can you do this with American trees too?"
   "What kind of tree is this?"
   "Just like the sign says.  Larch."
   "What kind of tre is that?"
   "It is a deciduous conifer."
    "Oh, I can read the scientific name!  I meant what KIND of tree is it?
    "It is a tree that turns color in the fall like a maple, but has cones like a pine tree."
     "These aren't your trees are they?"

Reprinted from Nov./Dec. 1999 Golden Statements

Permanent Exhibit 2005 or Lonestar Bonsai Bonsai Exhibit

This month we will vote to proceed with this project or drop it.  Someone said recently that it was time Elaine;s project became "ours"

I hope you have done some serious thinking about what is involved and, to help you, make a more informed decision, here are some more suggestions.

We will need a committee to plan the area, size, type, etc., and meet with the Zilker Garden Committee.

We will need a construction committee, plumber, electrician, wood workers, and landscapers.

We will need a Foundation Board of Directors to make major decisions and manage, and invest, our donations.

Every member has talents that can be utilized on a short or long term basis.  It is so exciting to think about what we can create! The administration of the day-to-day operation will , of necessity, be up to the Austin Bonsai Society.

On Friday, May 26th, at the LSBF Delegates Meeting, at the Convention in Corpus Christi, I would like to made a proposal asking for every clubs/ assistance in creating something the state bonsai community can be proud of.  Each club could send a delegate or be a director on our Board of Directors, assist with docent or construction time and have raffles/auctions or other fund raisers.  If this is to be a state collection, they could also help with corporate funds in their area.

Our biggest organizing expense will probably be a security system, however, after initial construction has been accomplished, I think that our goal should be to have enough funds paying interest to provide for monthly upkeep and eventually to hire a permanent curator.

A big project, but I believe we can do it if every member is willing to donate a half  day a month in some capacity.

We can create a beautiful exhibit for ourselves, our city and our state.



Charlotte Cranberg

The Board of the Austin Bonsai Society was called to order at 7:15 pm on April 19th in the Austin Area Garden Center by President Alisan Clarke.  Present were Pat & Chuck Ware, Gloria Norberg, Charlotte Cranberg and Alisan Clarke.

It was decided to put a femina juniper forest, donated by Alisan Clarke, into the bonsai garden in front of the garden center.

Pat Ware announced that we will have an educational display at the Zilker Garden Festival in May.

The vending policy was discussed and no changes will be made.  Vending spaces are allotted based on previous years reservations.  A waiting list is available.

The meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm.

All Members

Please have your trees ready to show at our annual exhibit and sale.  Any help you may need or questions you may want to ask can be addressed at the meeting. Everyone please attend and sign up to help.