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Bonsai Banter Issue #66 What a Show
August 28, 2015

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What a Show!

August 2015, the the Midwest Bonsai Society sponsored the 38th Mid America Bonsai Exhibit, at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois

This three point display of a Trident maple, Kokonoe Japanese five-needle pine and companion by Gary Andes from Tennessee, justifiably qualified him for "Best of Show." Photo by Bill Valavanis.

Speaking of Bill Valavanis ... The International Bonsai Arboretum 2015 Autumn House & Sale is September 5-6, 2015, in Rochester, New York 9-4, Display, lecture/demo, suiseki ... all events are free!

A 'Heads Up' for Tropical Growers

As hot as it's been this summer, it's hard to believe it will ever cool down. If you grow your tropical bonsai outdoors during the summer, it's time to start thinking about when it will actually get cold.

Before you bring them indoors, acclimate your tropical bonsai to lower light outdoors first. Place them in some shade for two or three weeks. When you take them in, hopefully they will receive more light and be elated!

The Artisans Cup

Sept 25 - Sept 27,2015 Portland,OR

In the previous issue of BonsaiBanter I shared a buttonwood by Paul Pikel, one of the four Florida artists accepted to participate in the The Artisans Cup.

Mike Lebanik, from Davenport, Florida also had the above Jaboticaba, Myrciaria cauliflora accepted.

Michael Feduccia will have a buttonwood, Conocarpus erectus there and this is Louise Leister's black pine, also awarded a spot.

As a Floridian, I'm bragging on behalf of these four artists. The competition was tough!

From the "Who Knew?" File

You never know what the next best "bonsai tool" will be. Ever have trouble finding the lifeline in a tree?

Jonas Dupuich posted this in his Bonsai Tonight blog: "John Thompson purchased the device to locate moisture that seeps through carpets but found that it can be used to detect lifelines too. Where there’s moisture, the device sounds. Where the wood has died, the machine is silent."

I said: Tell us more! Sounds like John came up with a real winner. What’s the name of this item? Jonas replied . . . "It’s a urine detector".

'Marty' jumped in ... "They make very similar equipment for measuring the moisture content of wood when doing woodworking. Most full service woodworking stores will have one or more models available."

A Serious Air Layer!

If you've been creating bonsai very long, you've probably attempted an air layer at least once. Most of the time we air layer a branch or even the top of a tree.

In this case, the artist decided the nebari would never be pleasing, so he air layered the entire plant from its base.

You can see how huge this Elaeagnus is and the complete process here:

Urban Yamadori Air Layer

(Elaeagnus also known as Silverberry, Russian Olive or Oleaster, is a genus of about 50–70 species.)

BonsaiMary Gets Mail

Elaine W., Austin TX

Hi Mary! I enjoy your newsletter! Q - Since a bonsai is a "Tree in a pot/tray" isn't it redundant to say "Bonsai Tree?"

Elaine, you're right. "Bonsai tree" is not only redundant, it's a misnomer. The word 'tree' infers they are all trees. When in fact, we often use shrubs, vines and succulents! My guess is, at one time, in order for the public to understand what we were talking about, we added the word "tree." It seemed to help, and it stuck.

Lazaro J. Quintino, Facebook

Can you give tips in your next issue related to ideas or tricks used by bonsai enthusiasts that make the art of bonsai "easier?" . . . I have a pair of stainless steel surgical shears that I have used to give daily pruning to my trees the last 8 years. I keep them outside on my bonsai stand and they are always there when I need them . . .

Lazaro, thanks for the question. The two thoughts that came to me were not tricks or big ideas, just some basics that are often neglected, and they do make things easier.

1. Make your work area ready to work. Have a good selection of wire. Keep a few inexpensive containers ready for training. Have soil prepared in advance and keep it in a dry place.

2. Work on your bonsai at eye level! Keep a wooden box or plastic crate handy to raise your smaller bonsai if necessary. The view looking down on bonsai is very different from the view looking in.
I asked two of my Florida friends to comment. Florida artist and teacher David Van Buskirk said:

"One thing I do that makes it "easier," especially for beginners to intermediate, is to hedge prune into a shape. Some can't see the tree for the bush, so prune the bush into a nice silhouette of a tree, then style the branches to fit the silhouette".

I asked South Florida bonsai artist Mike Sullivan the same question, on a day when he had just finished working on his many trees. (I think it was at least 100 degrees F.) His advice: One word, "consistency!"

After Mike had an opportunity to cool down, I asked for a little more and received this:

"Consistency: The one and only shortcut or time saver I have found in bonsai.
Consistency of watering schedule, fertilizing and pesticide application.
Consistency of trimming and defoliating.
Consistency of repotting and wiring.

Mike Sullivan's juniper tanuki after a recent trim.

"The one benefit of my retirement has been that I spend much more time on my collection of trees. I water by hand daily and use that time to weed, trim stray growth and rotate my trees.

"It is amazing how well they have responded to the attention. Every two weeks I go through and consistently trim growth on my tropicals, paying extra attention to the tropical shohin.

"Junipers are all wired and trimmed (not pinched) as needed, the pines are all on schedule. It is amazing how much easier it is to maintain everything just through consistency.

"Every month all of my trees receive the same attention, they are moved to my turntable, weeded, trimmed, wired and/or unwired as necessary. I go through the entire collection bench by bench until every tree has been worked.

"That consistency or better yet, dedication to commitment has been the key to success and proven in the end to be a real time saver.

A good lesson for everyone! Thanks Mike.

Unrelated Email

I sometimes get questions unrelated to bonsai. I do my best to answer them.

Edward G., Athens, GA

"What's the difference between a vine and a bine?"

I thought this may be a trick question, but I looked it up anyway.

I discovered, on a truly unrelated site . . .
"A vine is a plant that uses tendrils to hold onto stuff and support its weight. A bine is a plant that wraps its stem around stuff to support its weight."

'From the Small Kitchen Garden' website

Warren Hill's magnificent Wisteria

Hmmm, maybe it wasn't so unrelated, after all.

Is Wisteria a vine or a bine?

BonsaiMary Advertising

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Advertising intro page

Please, Do Me a Favor

At the bottom of every BonsaiMary website page, there is a place for you to share it on Facebook or Twitter.

If you really like a page, your sharing is appreciated!

Until Next Time

Let's hope next month may be a little cooler, but be careful what you wish for!

Until then ...

Thanks for your input and for visiting my site.


Mary Miller

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