Central Virginia Bonsai Society
Lynchburg, Virginia
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Items below from the October 16, 2018, CVBS Newsletter
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6th NATIONAL EXHIBITION> Bill Valavanis and Billís volunteers have topped their previous performances with the 6th National Bonsai Exhibition. Bonsai enthusiasts from all over the US and Canada brought hundreds of their best trees to Rochester for the show. The excellent organization and venue provided the exhibitors with the opportunity to display their exquisitely groomed trees for a large, appreciative audience. Hundreds of non-exhibitors formed long lines to enjoy and study the best of North American bonsai, excellent demonstrations and critiques, and the best vendors of all things bonsai. It was terrific!
Jeremiah McKinney made the trip with me. It was an opportunity for him to see the best of American bonsai while being introduced to many of my wire customers. More about that later. The drive was easy going up to Rochester and not too bad coming back in spite of heavy rain across the entire state of Pennsylvania. Weather in Rochester was perfect for the show, a pleasant change from the extreme heat we suffered at the 5th National. Once the van was unloaded and the vending tables arranged, we drove to Niagara to give Jeremiah a look at the falls. There was plenty of water so the falls were very impressive. After touring the falls, we met with Roy and Debbi Wixson, an old bonsai friend and roommate from one of Billís Japan trips, for dinner at a Japanese restaurant near Buffalo.
Everything about the 6th National was the best ever. Of course, the focus if the National is to create a venue for the display of the very best bonsai in the US. Seeing such fine trees created by real American hobbyists made it clear that the level of artistry in American bonsai continues to rapidly increase and rivals the best of the rest of the world. Bonsai of all sizes, species, and styles were displayed. I was particularly impressed by the increase in numbers and quality of small (shohin/mame) bonsai, which I consider to be the most difficult size to create and maintain at a high level. It is unlikely that many of the trees shown in the 1st National would be good enough to be accepted for display in the 6th.. The quality of the trees has skyrocketed. It shows that competition brings about improved performance.
There were demonstrations, an awards banquet, and more providing interesting opportunities for every taste. Two auctions were held in support of the event. I was auctioneer for both and thoroughly enjoyed being involved without too much risk of buying anything for myself. Saturday afternoon the majority of items were sold at the end of the day but before everyone left to get ready for the banquet. Items sold were quite varied. Bill V had a number of his older, larger trees in the sale. As with many of us who are older and less vigorous than we once were, Bill was reducing his work load. There were more than 50 lots to sell and they were all knocked out in slightly more than an hour. I think this was a record for speed.
The final auction was for a single item, a spectacular demonstration tree. It was sold Sunday at the end of the show for more than $2000.
Anyone who loves bonsai should attend at least one of the National shows. It will raise your sights for your own collection. Bill has scheduled National #7 for 2020. A smaller but wonderful opportunity for us in this area is the National Shohin Exhibition to be held again in Kanappolis, NC, in early summer of 2019. Kannapolis is an easy drive and offers many features of the regular National but on a smaller scale.

FALL NEARS> Itís hard to believe that the summer is mostly gone. We havenít had any cold weather yet but it canít be too far away. The days are much shorter which reduces the energy available to our trees and reduces the warming effects that the sun has on our weather. The plants know what is coming and are getting ready for it. Buds for next year have largely been created on the limbs. The leaves of the deciduous are starting to look a bit shopworn. Evergreens, especially pines, are beginning to shed their oldest needles. It is clear that in the plant world youth will be served (at the expense of the old).
I have ended my fertilization program for this year to encourage the bonsai to get ready for freezing weather. This is the annual first step in getting the bonsai and myself ready for the coming cold. Another step is to have a plan about where the trees will be stored and then to make sure that the storage place is free of debris and anything else that might be attractive to rodents over winter. Mice, voles, squirrels, and rabbits can destroy bonsai by eating the tasty bark. This is much more likely if the rodents are able to build their winter nest in the storage area. During the winter months, the bonsai should be kept in circumstances which mimic winter conditions in their natural habitat. This means light exposure, temperature (especially root temperature), and water availability need to be appropriate. Most winter losses occur from insufficient water, especially for evergreens, and from premature emergence from dormancy instigated by allowing root temperatures to rise too soon in late winter, Regular watering will eliminate the dehydration issue. Using the coldest possible location for the pots will help keep the plants dormant until the danger of frost is past. I find that assuring that direct sunlight never strikes the pots is a major help in maintaining cold root temperatures in late winter. The winter storage location you choose now will affect the safety of your plants. A well chosen location will largely eliminate the need to move plants or provide supplemental protection in early spring. Most newcomers to bonsai want to overprotect their plants. This is not the best approach. In our area, the deepest cold in midwinter is less of a threat than premature emergence from dormancy in spring or neglecting to water sufficiently when plants are in a sheltered location for the winter.
Chilly clear air is often a sequel to a fall hurricane. It will be much cooler this weekend after the rain and wind pass. Frost is not predicted but it is likely to be on us before long. Be prepared. Tender trees (tropicals) should be give protection. Most of our bonsai are capable of withstanding frost in the fall. In fact, early frosts help the trees prepare for the sustained cold of winter which is to come.