Central Virginia Bonsai Society
below from the December 30, 2017, CVBS Newsletter
SEASONAL THOUGHTS> Much of one’s success in growing plants (including bonsai) is rooted in learning to think like a plant. Our trees do different things at different seasons and have correspondingly different needs by seasons. As the days shorten and temperatures cool, the bonsai will naturally prepare for dormancy…..unless we treat them inappropriately. An example of inappropriate treatment is continuing heavy feeding as the first frost approaches. Even if the conditions are screaming “go dormant”, it will be almost impossible for a tree to stop growing if an overabundance of food and water is provided by the owner. At this time of year, a growing plant is a freeze vulnerable plant. Many seem to think that I have the brain of a plant. Perhaps this is so but I do know that when summer ends, the extra encouragement to grow must also end. Put the fertilizer away and think of other useful things to do. Late summer is a time when trees seem to add lots of wood to the limbs and twigs. At this time, bonsai which were wired in late winter often are ready to have that wire removed to prevent scarring. It hurts to take off the wire that requires much effort to apply but it is better to take it off a bit early than to leave it too long and have long lasting scars to remind one of being negligent.
A little pruning here and there can make a big improvement in the neatness of many deciduous bonsai. Dead twigs on evergreens are easy to see now and should be removed.
Army worms/sawfly larvae seem to be around recently. They are particularly attracted to two needle pines. They are a fast growing menace if left untreated. They appear as a multitude of small worms clustered together. They grow larger rapidly as they eat the needles from the tips toward the attach points. Left untreated, they are quite capable of defoliating a large pine bonsai. Most mild insecticides are very effective if they are sprayed directly on the worms.
ADAMS’ BONSAI HAPPENINGS> Wire removal from the more finished Zuisho has kept me busy lately. Strong apical growth and severe bending in the tops has started to bury much of the wire. Fortunately, the scars seem to disappear or add character to the Zuisho branches. The main threat is ripping away cambium if the wire is removed carelessly. Jeremiah has been a great help with this task. No damage was done and all the oldest Zuisho are now ready for winter.
As many of you know, I am finding it hard to continue the pace of production at Adams’ Bonsai. Things are slowing down gradually. No new plants are being put in the ground for trunk development. Many of the larger and more developed trees, especially Zuisho, are being offered for sale. I am no longer actively selling bonsai tools. I do still have a few Yoshiaki wire/jin pliers for sale. These are indispensable when wiring in tight quarters or on heavy branches. Writing articles and teaching continue whenever possible. In fact, I am scheduling teaching road trips into October of 2018. Several are booked and several are in negotiations.
Copper is at the highest price in several years. Until now I have been able to hold prices at the 20% surcharge level. If the COMEX price goes much higher, I’ll have to adjust to compensate. in spite of the prices, copper training wire is becoming much more popular. Part of the increase in demand is due to the higher level of quality spreading through north American bonsai. Part of it is due to an increased interest in the bonsai hobby in general. This is good for business but requires more and more time to keep the supply sufficient to meet demand.
For a reason unknown, the yield of Zuisho rooted cuttings from the summer of 2015 was unusually good. I had about 60 of them suitable for sale this September when they were finally settled enough for shipping. To bring order to the distribution and shipping I started taking reservations on August 1. Most were shipped out in late September and a customer called today and bought the last five. The cuttings have gone to the west coast, middle America, several northern states, and into the southern Appalachian Mountains. With a little luck, the production and enjoyment of Zuisho will continue in the US after I get too old to keep propagating.
To my surprise, it appears that there will be a few successful Zuisho air layers this year. Roots appeared very late but they have popped out on several limbs and are lengthening with enthusiasm. It appears that at least half of the attempts will have a chance for survival,
BIG HONOR FOR BILL VALAVANIS> Our friend, teacher, and colleague, Bill Valavanis, was inducted into the Bonsai Hall of Fame last weekend. This significant recognition was bestowed by the US National Arboretum Bonsai and Penjing Museum. He is in impressive company as the only other inductees thus far are Yuji Yoshimura and John Naka. More details can be found on “Bonsai Bark” free for the reading on the Stone Lantern web site. I sent a congratulatory note to Bill suggesting that he continue his status as the only living member of the Hall of Fame as long as possible, Bill has done an amazing job of spreading the news of bonsai around the world and continues to do so.
UPDATE> I have been trying to get this newsletter to you for a couple of weeks without success. There has just been too much happening. Here are a couple of things that have transpired in that time.
Immediately after Asheville I drove to Cincinnati to do a couple of talks and a workshop. The events were well attended and I think successful for the participants. There was not much color to be seen on the drive, even in the West Virginia mountains. Many of the deciduous leaves had fallen. I’m sure that dry weather was the culprit. Many acres of soybeans had been planted in Ohio and were being combined as I passed through the long flat farm country east of Cincinnati.
Enough roots have appeared to allow removal and potting of five Zuisho air layers. One or two more might make it if warm weather stays with us a bit longer. There has been one scattered light frost here but most things are hanging on. It looks as if there might be a more substantial freeze before long but weather is very unpredictable.
In anticipation of frost, I have harvested my sweet potatoes and winter squash. I have enough of both to feed us for weeks. Some of the sweet potatoes are huge!
Putting the trees down for winter is only two or three weeks away. I hate to see the warm weather leave but the trees and I are ready to go dormant for a while. Get ready. The time will pass quickly.