Austin Bonsai Society

September 2003

President's Message

Glenda Konopka

August 28, 2003 - The August 9th joint meeting with San Antonio was a great success; no less than 20 members from S.A. came and we fielded 17 of our own. The food was great, the workshop a resounding success, and Mary's lecture/demo was a blast - I came home and whacked all the foliage off my straggly sheffelera and made it into a shohin-sized bonsai.

The September meeting is our annual auction, one of our biggest fund-raisers of the year. Start looking around for trees, pots, tools, and other bonsai-related things to bring on the 10th. Don't forget - you can bring non-bonsai items to the auction also! This includes baked goods, fountains, buckets, paintings, photographs, clothing, appliances - your imagination is the only limiting factor. The Board has discussed setting minimum bid amounts when the donator requests to encourage folks to bring really cool stuff and better-than-average trees, etc. No one wants to see their $400 tree go for $40 at the auction unless they want it to. Get your checkbooks ready!

This fall is when the Nominating Committee gets into swing for the 2004 Board of Directors and other committee positions. If you'd like to be on the Committee itself, please let Del know ASAP. Start thinking now about what you'd like to do for your club next year; as JFK said "Ask not what your club can do for you, but what you can do for your club!" (sorry for taking liberties, Jack) Look at the Membership Directory's first page to see what's available.

As always, take care and see you all at the auction.

General Meeting Minutes

By Del De Los Santos

The Austin Bonsai Society general meeting was called to order by President Glenda Konopka, with an invitation to eat. It was the joint meeting of all meetings. Preceded by the joint Austin and San Antonio workshop lead by Mary Miller, and followed by the Mary Miller demonstration. Mary Miller worked a Shefilara Arboricola which was later raffled and won by Alisan Clarke. There was no business discussed to provide all the necessary time to Ms. Millers demonstration. A great time was had by all and a special thanks to our friends in San Antonio for their attendance and participation.

Board Meeting Minutes

By Del De Los Santos

The Austin Bonsai Society Board meeting was called to order at 7:35 P.M. by President Glenda Konopka. Board Members Present: Glenda Konopka, Pat Ware, Larry Gfeller, and Del De Los Santos. Other Members present, Chuck Ware, Els Ulug.

Old Business:

There were thirty-six of thirty-seven RSVPs for the joint dinner in attendance. This is proof that Stephanie Quisenberry's talent for phone service is superb. A big thank you is in order for Stephanie taking the initiative and personal time to telephone all the members and ensure attendance intentions.

Pat Ware announced that we were approximately $26.00 under budget for the joint workshop and demo with the San Antonio club featuring Mary Miller. Discussion was held regarding workshop and lecture/demo with guest artist, Roy Nagatoshi. In an effort to provide enough time for the guest artist to work with the workshop participants it was decided that the workshop would be limited to eight (8) seats at $40.00 each. A $20.00 coupon redeemable with our participating local bonsai suppliers will be made available to workshop participants.

Discussion was held regarding raising the monetary limits for the purchase of demo trees for our visiting guest artist to work on. We decided to raise the limit to $150 total for the tree and the pot.

Discussion was held on including a 'Reserve Selling Price' on select items to be placed for auctioned in this years club fund raiser. The idea here is to ensure the donating individual's intended benefit is received by the club.

Discussion was held on inviting Ted Matson to join the LSBF 'Texas Tour' next year. If any member has idea of some bonsai artist of merit to invite to join the 'Texas Tour' please see Chuck Ware.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 P.M.

Thoughts of a Naive Bonsai Hobbyist: My Introduction to Bonsai

By James Morgan

I do not know how most of you guys became interested in bonsai, but I'm sure each of you has an interesting story of how you stumbled onto such a hobby. Since I don't know anybody else's story I'll go ahead and tell you how I entered the field of bonsai and almost killed my first tree.

Unlike most hobbyists, the laws of circumstance forced my hobby upon me. Yes, I began as a bonsai interloper. The trees I have are not even mine. My younger brother and sister both won bonsai trees at ABS's bonsai show in May. They not only won trees, but won the $5 raffle ticket trees (the big Cedar Elm and the Sho-hin Kingsman Boxwoods.

I will go ahead and admit this - I was reluctant about accepting the trees on the behalf of my brother and sister (who live in South Carolina with my parents, rendering it impossible to ship the bonsai to them). The hobby did appeal to my more mature senses. The Bonsai exhibit enthralled and intrigued me with its miniature landscapes and beauty. But at this point in the life of a recently graduated, unemployed city boy with no gardening experience, bonsai as a hobby seemed impossible. Destiny, though, seemed to disagree with me.

Destiny presented itself in the guise of my father when he spontaneously decided to buy the majority of the raffle tickets. I honestly hoped we would not win any bonsais. Dread swelled in my gut as I thought of having this new responsibility. I knew whatever we would win would end up in my hands. I thought the poor bonsai trees would never make it through the summer. As I have already revealed to you, my brother and sister both won bonsai trees. Through slight of hand, destiny fulfilled my wish of not winning any bonsai trees for me, while also succeeding in its design to turn me into a bonsai enthusiast.

Those poor trees! My first big shock came when upon picking up my two bonsais that these were outdoor trees. For some reason I had always assumed bonsai were indoor trees. Blame "The Karate Kid" movies I guess. Some bonsai can of course survive indoors, but mine were the outdoor type. At that point, fate appeared to be on my side. I had just signed the lease for what must be the only decently-priced, in-town, studio apartment with a back porch. Later I would find out that having a porch was lucky, but having one painted black and facing due west was unlucky.

So I now had two bonsai trees. For the first week I was too nervous to even touch the miniature trees. They seemed so fragile and small. All I could do was water them. My monetary situation left me having to water the plants using old spaghetti sauce mason jars. I couldn't even afford tools to trim and beatify my trees. Of course after two weeks I'd find out grooming would be a luxury. I first needed to figure out how to keep them alive. I decided I had better join the Austin Bonsai Society to learn how to care for my new bonsai.

By the time of the first meeting, the leaves on my big cedar elm had dried up and turned brown. It seemed to have happened overnight. I had two days before the first meeting to restore this tree to health. I didn't want to show up with a dead tree. I began watering more and taking the tree out for morning sun thanks to the suggestions of Del. I felt my cedar elm was surely doomed. My only hope was the upcoming ABS meeting. I had no clue as to what I was doing. I was scared to death of the reaction I might get from the members. It was such a big and aged tree, I thought the members might think of me as an ax murderer. I called my friend Eric and told him he had to come to the meeting with me. I couldn't face the firing squad alone.

Eric and I arrived at the meeting early in order to obtain as much help as possible for my floundering cedar elm. The sight of my dried up tree created a stir in the members. I braced myself for the onslaught of curses and threats. Instead of these I received only helpful comments and suggestions. You guys viewed the incident not as a murder, but as a challenge to overcome.

Members constantly provided me with instructions on how to save my poor tree. At one point I found my tree encircled by ABS members. There was much muttering and stirring about. As I made my way through the members, I found my tree freshly naked, freed from the burden of dried brown leaves. It looked refreshed in its bareness, ready to defy all odds and put forth a new coat of green leaves. I emerged understanding the close relationship I must have with my bonsai. No longer would I see them as a work of art, meant only to sit upon a pedestal for one to gawk at and admire as a finished masterpiece. No, bonsai are a constant work in progress, one that will always need love and attention.

I left that meeting knowing I needed to water more often but not too much because without leaves the tree could not absorb the water as quickly and could easily drown. I honestly had no idea how much water that meant, but as I interacted more and more with my tree I learned its specific needs. This understanding I developed now shows. My cedar elm is now thick with rich green leaves. Thank you for your help guys.

Plan for the Roy Nagatoshi Workshop

By Pat Ware

Start thinking about our October meeting and workshop with Roy Nagatoshi. We will have a workshop on TUESDAY, October 7th at 7 PM for only 8 members - it will be a bring your own tree and cost $40. To encourage some of our newer members who do not feel they have a tree to bring, the board has authorized coupons, to be used at our local bonsai vendors. Local vendors have agreed to accept the coupon in the amount of $20. as part or full payment of the purchase of material for this workshop. Participants have to pay for the workshop before they will receive the coupon. So contact Pat Ware with your money and she will give you the coupon. Of course, club members may come as silent observers to this workshop at no charge.