Columbus Bonsai Society

May 2019 newsletter                              Vol. 49, No. 5

Columbus Bonsai Society

PO Box 7741

Columbus,  OH  43229

What's up for May 19, 2019

Bring your tree(s) and accents to the meeting for display advice and tips on how to prepare your trees for a show.  If you want to have a set display then we will also be covering how to make sure they stay together as a unit for the show.  We are NOT in the Veridian Room. The meeting will be in the Education Pavillion, in the Community Garden Campus at FPC (south eastern part of the grounds). Franklin Park Conservatory.  Access is off Broad Street, past the parking area and greenhouse/barn and then on to a small pull in area on the right side.  A walkway leads to the education building.  After you unload please move your car back to the event barn parking area so other people can unload.  If you have room to bring a wagon or small cart, that would come in handy.  

This will be a Bring Your Own Tree discussion and workshop for all levels.  Topics will include stands, accents, and preparation.  Preparation includes cleaning your pot, weeding, moss/top dressing, and wire.  If there is interest, judging points may be discussed.  Although our show is not “judged” in the formal sense,  we do have a popular vote by attendees, and a members choice award.  The interpretation of criteria for the members choice vote has varied wildly over the years and it would be pleasant to have some conformity as to what we are voting on.

News  From the President

April showers bring May flowers, but what if the showers don’t stop? Well we’re finding that out this month! Well at least it makes it easier to water! I hope everyone has picked out their show candidates and is going to bring 1 or 2 to this month’s meeting for critique and suggestions. Our meeting is going to be held in the Education Barn located in the southeast corner of the Conservatory grounds. There will be several carts to bring your trees in, the parking is a little remote, but the venue is great! Hope to see everyone at 2 on Sunday the 19th.   ~  Jack Smith

Random Thotz

I'm trying to get the file size down to something everyone can open.  This is not a final format.

See the first article below for updates on previous Thotz

In Memorial – Tony Mihalic

We have attended Wildwood Gardens' open house on several occasions but it was our first visit that was memorable.  It was later on a Sunday when we arrived. Mr. and Mrs. Mihalic insisted we sit and have lunch before looking around. Then Tony asked if we would like a tour of the property.  We did not anticipate the amount of walking we would end up doing.    Tony took us to every edge of the property.  He showed us all the life-size “rock plantings” he had created over the years.  Very Impressive. He also told us the unique hostory of just about every tree on the property.  Each tree was something he had planted, Created by cross-breeding, or other techniques.  He was so proud to show us around and we never imagined seeing such history.  Oh, and suffice to say, we had a hard time keeping up with Tony!

Our tour concluded with us walking out on the wooden dock he had on the edge of his large pond.  On the rail of the deck was a large coffee can.  Hr asked if we wanted to feed the fish (and of course, we did.)  Tony literally banged the can on the dock railing and, sure enough, the fish swam toward us, waiting to be fed.  Who knew you could “condition” fish?

We've always cherished the time we spent with Tony so proudly showing us around. (And surprisingly, it was Mrs. Mihalic who talked us into our purchases that day.)  Frank has been a good friend to the Columbus Bonsai Society.  We send him ourcondolences.  His father was a fine gentleman.

        ~Sandy Schoenfeld, Columbus, Ohio

Several visits later when we visited Wildwood Gardens again, Tony recognized me and said, “you like feeding the fish, so go do it, saves me from walking all way. . . and don't forget to put the rock back on the lid (of a 55 gallon drum) or the damn raccoons will eat everything.”  Tony was a humorous and kind person.  I love him and will always miss him.

        ~Ken Schoenfeld  

Updates from Random Thotz – As Promised

Anti-Squirrel cage. I want to report complete success on this.  I over wintered a starting flat of acorns in this.  The acorns stratefied and I currently have an 80% germination rate.  Most came out late last week. That means squirrels did not get into the enclosure.    

I made a cage out of the wire shelving you can get at the big box stores.  It is the L shape 14” shelf.  Not the shelf-with-hanger. They come in 4' and larger lengths.  Four feet is about as large as you would want with this construction method, but you can cut longer sections down.    The sides and ends are zip tied together.  It is very quick and dirty.  You take 4, four foot sections and attach them as in the diagram.  You cut the ends out of a longer section  to fit your construction.  The way the sides join is important  - you only want to zip tie three of the edges.  The other edge is the door opening.  This door is a force fit to open and close,  but you could adjust your end pieces to allow a twist tie to keep it closed.  This runs the risk of leaving a gap for the vermin to enter.  

I plan to leave the flat in the enclosure until I pot them up.  Then the pots will live there until next year to minimize vermin thinking I have set out lunch.  The door is important so I have access for the repot, weeding,  and other maintenance.

Hardwood cuttings. I can report partial success for the fall and winter cuttings.  Only some of the White Oak have budded out, maybe 10%.  Most Died.  Most of the sugarmaple/red maple hybrids have budded out and started elongation.  90% survival.  Most of the Japanese maple died.  I probably got a 20% survival on those.  I have read several places that J maples are hard to root from cuttings.  Itiogawa  Juniper cuttings I took at the workshop have mostly started to show new buds and are looking healthy.  Kishiu Juniper cuttings from the workshop with Jim Doyle – the small 6” or less cuttings are doing well. Larger 12” branches that I didn't have time to break down are running about 50% right now.

Now this is what I learned from this experiment.  In March we had that cold snap and just after that I took some additional cuttings  The Oak and J maple all showed a 30% survival rate.  Some improvement.    But here is where I hit the jackpot.  As I was working on my trees in April, I went ahead and stuck cuttings from them where the buds had started to swell but not broken out yet.  This is one to three year old wood.  I estimate a 95% survival rate for Oak, Elm, native Maples, Trident maples,  and the few Bald Cyprus twigs I stuck from a yard tree out front.   The yard J maple is runnig about 40%

Note:  I used rooting hormone on the cuttings.  All containers overwintered outside.  For the overwinter and March cuttings I used my normal bonsai mix. The cuttings go into a slot cut into the frozen soil (See:  )  For the April cuttings I used Turface siftings of sand - fine sand size (0.5mm – 1.5mm).  I used this because I had just repotted some things out of it and the flat was available.  The Huth tridents went into regular bonsai soil.

Several short pieces from Ken Schultz

Accent Plant Tips

I said that I'd write up notes that I took when Shannon Salyer explained the placement of accents. Here goes:

-        Accent plant pots should not be the same color or shape as the main plant.

-         The accent's pot should be shallower than the main tree.

-        While plants are to the front of your display, rocks/ suiseki are to the back to provide         the illusion that they are mountains.

-        Maintain the triangle with your display items.

-        Directionality of the items in your display should flow around. This includes scrolls.

-        Place your accent on its own stand or slab. Again not the same as the stand your tree         is on. Typically thin slabs are used for accents. 

Notes on a Nursery Crawl

Propagators usually put two plants in a pot, in case one dies, they aren't watering and feeding an empty pot. If you hadn't noticed before, you will now. Better nurseries or more expensive stock will be 1/ pot.   If the type of material you are looking at has 2, can they be separated? Or if they are intertwined or perhaps fused, can it become good bonsai?


Remember look for small leaves or short needles.


Can you see a trunk line? Some plants are multi-stemmed bushes. Sometime you can find a single pot among 50 that has a single stem or two. Now look at branch position. Most deciduous will back bud so it's not a deal breaker. A lot of conifers don't back bud easily, so having some good choices is more critical.


An interesting trunk line is necessary if the material yo plan to buy is order or brittle, chances are you won't be able to change the trunk line appreciably.


Next if you can't see the roots, scratch down and try to determine if there is a reasonable nebari. Lots of nurseries repot plants and bury the top of the nebari.


If the plant is a graft, is the graft smooth or some ugly knob? Ugly knobs will always stay ugly.


Ignore the height, you can chop/cut them shorter. Look for a branch that can be wired up to make a new apex.


Dwarf or semi-dwarf cultivars will have smaller leaves and tighter branch structure, but they also grow more slowly. Example include Cotoneaster, Hinoki, Barberry, Crepe Myrtle, to name a few.  In addition I've found dwarf Mugo Pine, Junipers, small Redwood, Chamaecyparis, Boxwood (Kingsville), Azaleas, Rhododendron, and so on.

Monthly Care

If you haven't already, take your ficus outside.  Probably any tropical.  The extra sun will more than offset any cold issue except frost.  I still pay attention to the low temperature until June.  

Start fertilizing.  A balanced slow release is best in spring.  Too much nitrogen will encourage long internodes. Laeter in the season more nitrogen canbe supplied without too much harm.  Watch out for insects and fungus and apply appropriate pesticide as needed.  

If you are wiring any branches, do so before repotting when the tree is more stable in existing pot.

There is a lot of articles that say only repot while the buds are swelling.  That is not true for all species.  I have had good luck repotting most temperate trees in March before bud swelling, and late April/May after bud break.  I am digging maple saplings out of my front yard now that are leafed out and extending new stems. This is true for other local hardwoods as well.  I have luck with elms, bushes, boxwood, and more.  The best time to work on your trees is when you have time to work on them.  

After repotting, Many people soak the tree in a shallow pan of water  and place in a protected, shady site for a few weeks to recover. Some suggest super thrive helps. Don’t over water since the plant is not taking up much water on its own.

Fertilize after a month or so when the tree has adjusted to the new pot.

If you have plants to air layer start now.  They will probably be ready to separate in late summer for faster growing varieties.  Consult a website you trust for details.

Found on the Web

Partial defoliation on shohin Japanese maple.  This is the third in an intermittent series Jonas is blogging on the development of this tree.  See the other two linked articles. 

Coming Attractions

The June meeting will be presented by guest artist Owen Reich.  Rob Hoffman is in contact with him negotiating the program agenda so I can't tell you what it is right now.  

Bonsai Here and Beyond the Outerbelt

May 19 - Show Preparation - getting your tree and display ready for the show - this will be a         bring your own tree presentation/workshop for all skill levels.  - we will be meeting in         the Veridian room at FPC  

June 16 - Workshop topic to be determined by Owen Reich

July 21 – The 46th Annual Columbus Bonsai Society Show  19-21

        19 afternoon set up and tree registration

        20 8:00-9:30 tree registration and placement

        20 – 21 Show, open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

        21 tear down and plant pick up  

August 18 – Tool Care and Soils  Ken Schoenfeld and Zack Clayton

September 15 – 12:00 to 4:00,  Picnic / Member Sale  Oakland Nursery, 1156 Oakland Park         Ave, Columbus, OH 43224

October 20 - TBD

November 17 – Elections -  

December – Dinner