Capital City Bonsai Show

Capital City Bonsai Show

This weekend, 26 & 27 Oct, is the annual Capital City Bonsai Show. Hosted by all four bonsai clubs in Sacramento, it raises money to support the Golden State Bonsai Federation collection at Lake Merritt, Oakland (pictured above), housing some of California’s oldest bonsai trees (

Saturday, the show runs 10 – 5 with a social afterwards, and Sunday from 10-4. There will be club hosted demos each day at 1:30. I am fairly sure this is a FREE event. For more information contact Gary Judd at 916-622-8048.

Admission to see the Lake Merrit collection is free, and the SoCal collection is at Huntingtion Gardens.

Bonsai clubs in Sac’to:
American Bonsai Association
Bonsai Sekiyu Kai (tree and stone lovers)
Sacramento Bonsai Club (oldest club in CA)
Satsuki Aikokai Association (Azaleas only)

See you there!


Mondo Burley

Mondo Burley

Last night American Bonsai Association Sacramento had their annual auction. Wow! There were some amazing trees, most of which quickly lept out of my price range. I had a chance at a rare kind of Japanese Shimpaku juniper (shohin) and let it go knowing I probably cannot care for it where I am currently living . . . a combination of the water and the sun exposure. This little guy needed TLC that my current “yard” can’t offer. Sure was purdy tho’.

What I did get was a nifty olive, a tri-trunk dwarf Alberta spruce, and a swell pot. Today, the olive:

I’ll call it “Mondo Burley” because it is both. Mondo because of the size, burley because the old trunk is: One. Big. Burl! It will need a pot that is at least 11″ (28cm) by 8″ (20.5cm), and is strong enough that it will be able to hold its own, very well thank you, in a larger pot. I’ve got one in mind that you’ll see when Mondo Burley gets repotted. It stands 20″ (51cm) tall. Yes, lots of bonsai are larger, but it’s no mame (bean-size). I picked the burl photo figuring you all know what an olive tree looks like. (Someday I’ll figure out how to post multiple photos.)

I feel really fortunate to have gotten this tree for the price. There were three other olives this size and a dwarf Greek kalamata. They all came up for auction late in the evening. The kalamata soared in price – an unusual tree in this area, maybe (???) brought from Greece as its former care taker is Greek Orthodox. The other biggun’s were auctioned first. They all had trunks with saw cut surfaces that will be great for carving. (I’m still focusing on styling.) Mondo Burley was last on the block and the olive enthusiasts must have been worn out or had gone home. Sold! for a single Andrew Jackson!!

Today, was mostly clean up work, removing leaf fall, spider webs, and what I think is Alaskan Malamute fur. I snipped a few dead branches and took a little time to get to know the tree and appreciate the bark and dead wood. I’m wondering how it would look to rub the dead wood with olive oil instead of using lime sulpher. Maybe too shiny? My idea is that it will renew the original color of the wood. But then, maybe it will attract bugs. Time for more research!

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New View Too

New View Too

Here is the revamped Korean hornbeam. The main difference is in the apex. What used to be the apex is now the left branch. The new apex was the upper right branch. It and the lower right branch each had a little shaping done with wire – pulling the branches closer and adding character through movement. There’s a long way to go. The tree needs to be more compact either through more bending or by pruning. The lower right branch will definately get more attention! I’m holding off doing anything more for the moment because the former apex cracked in the process of bending it; it was a fairly intense change considering it used to be almost straight up. I want to know if the branch will make it before deciding what to do next. The styling was a few days and things are looking good so far.

New View

New View

For those of you who don’t know, I like bonsai, and earlier this year began to learn how to do it right. They say you’ll kill a lot of trees, so I guess I am learning. In fact, for awhile I stopped posting about bonsai because nearly every tree I wrote a post about – ok, half – ended up dead. The korean hornbeam in this pic, and tomorrow’s, has been pretty steady since a beginner’s workshop in early March, so hopefully it will survive.

The tree’s shape shows just how much a beginner I am, or at least was in March. I don’t feel like I understand the shaping of trees yet. Just look at this one: basic “S” shaped upright “A” frame triangle. A valid style, but highly over done; every beginner does at least one tree that looks like this. I have two. Still, you’ve got to start somewhere. And some the ones that have had years to grow look really great.

I follow a few bonsai blogs [see right sidebar]. Two of these guys, Adam’s Art and Bonsai and eschmidtpabonsai, post fairly regularly and I see more of their trees-in-progress than others. Both of them are fairly aggressive, compared to me, with their trees, especially Sir Adam. I still cringe, but watching what they do has made me somewhat braver.

Back to this vict . . . tree. I just revamped it from what you see here. Having watched posts on the blogs listed above with morbid fascination, looking at some of my trees and being completely at a loss for ideas, knowing I really ought to do something to save my upright S curve A frame trees from mundacity. So I checked out some bonsai blogs, put on some great ’80s rock, looked at my tree, approached this little guy with intent, and suddenly saw something new that I hadn’t seen before.

Voi la! An idea! Action!
Check again tomorrow to see what happened. . . .

While We’re Down Under. . . .

While We're Down Under. . . .

My last stop in Australia was in Melbourne. It’s a beautiful city with lots of great art, great public transportation [with both trams and buses – that is, the motor coach], a harbor and ocean shore, a renowned . . . the list goes on.
Anyway, shortly after I got back to the States, I came across a bonsai blog “” Adam is in Melbourne, all his blog photos of himself are in shorts, and there were a few comments about consuming alcohol while working on trees. Sounds Aussie to me! I made a comment on his weblog about the cow tree in his fair city and that I wished I’d known about his bonsai club while I’d been there. It would have been fun to meet some Aussie bonsai folk! Guess again. . . . Yup, Melbourne, Florida, USA.
So, Adam, here’s a pic of “your” fair city’s cow in a tree art.
Oh, and the photo is not mine. I picked it up off the internet. Photo credit goes to

Egret Flower

Egret Flower

Well, life has been happening, including losing the flowering quince that had been doing so well. It turns out several things went wrong, serially, almost as soon as I transplanted it: Hot weather, both night and day (sing it Cole!), windy spell, high nitrogen fertilizer – which the FQ doesn’t like, especially right after repotting. I had the light right. At least now I know what NOT to do.

I’ve also been in rehearsals for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” playing “Corin” the shepherd. This is the “All the world’s a stage. . .” play, for those who are interested.

It’s still maple defoliation season here so they’ve been getting attention, and the junipers have been being selectively pruned. And of course watering. Mostly everybody in pots is happy (plus my land lady who I just gave two jade plants). Plus I had to plan and have Astrid’s birthday party (the cat). Some of you may not like this idea, but I got her a frozen feeder mouse which she thoroughly enjoyed. The next two mornings on our walk she was all over the place, up and down trees and support posts, jumping over ivy tendrils, chasing leaves and cockroaches. I guess it was a happy day for her.

The lacy white flowers picutured are egret flowers, which I am veeerrrrrry excited about. They are an orchid, Habenaria radiate. I think they usually bloom earlier in the season. The flower stocks are a little gangly, probably due to having lots of water (in well draining soil), but the flowers are still beautiful, and in my book it’s pretty cool getting an orchid to bloom. Any body else out there trying to grow both bonsai and orchids? Talk about a steep learning curve! :]

I hope everyone is having a good summer! Thanks for reading.

Limited Edition: Updates

Limited Edition: Updates

Here’s the little flowering quince that I posted about on 8 & 9 June this year. You can see that it is starting to back bud and has several flower buds as well. I love that it is flowering, but [except to have something to show in this photo] am removing the flowers. They take so much energy and this year the important thing is to get new leaves and branches started.

Also doing well is the “Odd Auction” bloodgood maple [18 June]. Nice deep red buds are starting at several of the old leaf nodes. I defoliated it and cut it back about a foot in hight. I’m not as brave about pruning as some of you, but I’m learning!

BTW, the highly stressed bloodgood that was posted on 5 April didn’t make it. Not only was there the original watering issues at the nursery, I’ve learned that we have really bad water for maple, camellia, azalea, many deciduous and flowering plants. [More on that soon.]