Puget sound bonsai association – December newsLetter

Sound Bonsaithe newsletter of the
Puget Sound Bonsai Association

December 2021
   In this issue:A Final Note from Bobby CurtwrightIn Person Club MeetingsRenew Your MembershipA Trick for Correcting Wire Scarred BranchesThe “New” Bonsai NorthwestSTOLEN BONSAI!!!A Bonsai SolsticeStone Images XIPacific Bonsai ExpoThe Oldest Trees on Earth  

Your PSBA board and your fellow club members wish you and your family the Peace and Joy of this Holiday Season
A final note concerning our November, 2021 club meeting demonstration from Bobby Curtwright
Hello PSBA Members,
 First of all thanks again for having me and sitting through a long zoom presentation. The Hemlock we worked on that night got additional fine wire added to the foliage to begin to roughly shape the pads, and a few of the larger branches got another bend, I like to give them hours or days if possible sometimes.
I also wetted the raffia that had been applied to the branches several more times to keep the branches hydrated as they settled into their new position and the entire tree got misted several times and then placed in a protected cold frame.
Instead of slipping it back into the plastic nursery pot I put it in doubled up 5gal fabric pots which were then wrapped with saran wrap on the sides to give it a little more insulation and to insure there were no air pockets in the root zone, which is more likely in a round plastic pot.  


 Some joy…
It’s always the trees.
To you, they may be sticks in pots.
But to me, they are my children, my trees!
Great family. Good friends. Good health, so far…
Can’t ask for more
Welcome to 2022

In person club meetings at the Center for Urban Horticulture
Monday, January 24th, 2022 at 7:00 PM
Todd Schlafer  

Todd Schlafer is a rising star in the American bonsai community and an expert on native yamadori (mountain-gathered wild trees). He specializes in Colorado blue spruce, Rocky Mountain juniper, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, limber pine, one-seed juniper, pinyon pine and bristlecone pine, among others. Todd collects, sells and styles these trees through his business, First Branch Bonsai, based in Denver, Colorado.Todd’s interest in bonsai was sparked during a trip to Spain in 2002, when he purchased a so-called bonsai seed kit. After it inevitably failed to produce a beautiful bonsai within a few months, he began to explore local nurseries for useable, older material. This led him to Harold “Hal” Sasaki of Colorado Bonsai. Harold has been practicing bonsai since 1955, teaching it since 1977, and operating his bonsai nursery professionally since 1985. Todd began volunteering at Sasaki’s nursery, doing everything from pulling weeds to styling trees.His passion for collecting wild trees began after a trip into the Rockies with Jerry Morris in 2007. Todd quickly learned that basic, conventional techniques and design principles did not necessarily apply to collected material with sparse foliage and unconventional branching. In 2012, he began working with Ryan Neil of Bonsai Mirai. Todd’s study with Ryan focused on advanced techniques for setting tree structure, which he considers the most difficult skill set in bonsai. After becoming highly proficient in such techniques and rounding himself out as an artist, others began to seek out Todd’s expertise and he was inspired to pursue bonsai full time.In the ensuing years, he has traveled around the country doing demos, private work and teaching workshops. Todd has been a demonstrator at the Generation Bonsai event in Germany and a featured artist on livestreams by Bonsai Empire and Bonsai Mirai. He was the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society’s Artist of the Year in 2012 and would go on to become president of the organization. He also won the Best North American Species award at the 5th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in 2016. He has done an interview at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museumand is now accepting enrollment at his bonsai school. To see some of Todd’s material and work, visit www.firstbranchbonsai.com

Todd will by styling this hemlock at our in person meeting.

He will be doing workshops on Saturday, 1/22, Sunday, 1/23, and Monday, 1/24 from 12-4pm at:
Haller Lake Community Club, 12579 Densmore Ave. N, Seattle.

We would like to learn if there is enough interest to fill all 3 workshops. Each workshop is limited to 8 participants at a cost of about $87.50 per person.  Participants are expected to bring a mature tree with good potential (bring more in case there is only minimal work to be done on one of the trees) and tools and wire. Silent observers are welcome at a cost of $10. This is a great opportunity for those new (or not so new) to bonsai to pay a small price to learn by observing. If you elect to participate, please be on time so the workshop is not disrupted. 

If you wish to sign up for the workshop you can do so by:
 Email workshop coordinator Lynn at psba.workshops@gmail.com . Lynn can provide you a link to pay by credit card online on our secure online payment system.
    And, on Monday, February 28th, 2022 at 7:00 PM, The artist will be our very own
Dan Robinson http://www.elandangardens.com/gnarlybranches  More information will be in next month’s Sound Bonsai.

Please note: COVID precautions will be in effect for all our in person club meetings and workshops.

For the safety of each person who attends:
All those who attend, except the speaker, will be required to wear a mask.
All those who attend will be required to show proof of COVID vaccination.

With the speaker’s consent, our in person meetings will be recorded for our members who are not able to attend.
 Don’t Forget Your Annual Club Dues Renewal

(It’s a bargain for a limited time only)
  Your benefits of continuing membership will include your exclusive access to:New member workshops, in-person, are available for beginning members, with a pot, tree, wire and personalized instruction.Our club rummage sale to sell and buy bonsai items and supplies.The member-only area of our website with exclusive viewing and instructional materials such as guest artists. (One guest artist in 2022, will be our own local treasure, bonsai artist, Dan Robinson).Insider access to our Spring Show and Annual Auction.Our “Bring Your Own Tree” (BYOT) meetings where you will be able to get individual, hands-on advice from senior club members.Website access to digital video recordings of many of our meetings and demonstrations as well as the PSBA member forum.Regional study groups with a mix of new and not-so-new members, which can include guest artists in an intimate setting when available.Sound Bonsai, to stimulate, challenge and encourage you as well as keep you up-to-date on our club and bonsai practice.Most of all, meeting, studying and working on trees with a like-minded group of dedicated and welcoming people. 

It is time once again for all PSBA members, with the exception of those who joined since August 31, 2021, to renew your Puget Sound Bonsai Association membership dues for next year.

Dues for the 2022 year are due by December 31st, 2021. If you joined PSBA as a new member after August 31, 2021, your dues are paid up through 2022.
 Regular renewal rates are: $40 for a renewing individual member or $60 for a renewing couple membership.

If you choose to wait until after December 31, 2021, you are choosing to pay the late fee price of $50 for an individual renewing member or $70 for a renewing couple.

The password to the member only area of our website is bonsaipsba. It will be changed in January 2022. Members who do not renew will no longer have access to the members only area of the club website and will no longer receive Sound Bonsai, meeting announcements or other club mailings. 
   Payment options:

Dues may be paid by credit card online at

Dues may be paid by check, payable to Puget Sound Bonsai Association mailed to:
Puget Sound Bonsai Association
PO Box 15437
Seattle, WA 98115-0437

Dues may also be paid in person at a club meeting. See the membership desk or club treasurer.
Thank you,
PSBA Board of Directors     
  This recent post by Michael Hagedorn is of interest to all of us. I’ve included below, some of the comments and questions submitted by his readers as they seem to clarify some of my thoughts on the subject.

A Trick for Correcting Wire Scarred Branches

by crategus https://crataegus.com/
  Spiral scars seem to happen overnight. You go to bed with happy thoughts only to arise with badly bitten in wire.

Wire scars on some plants can last well into a bonsai’s maturity. How might we correct that? Though slight, wire marks like this bug me. This Chojubai was wired when it was a skinny cutting. The wire bit in,  and the scars are still visible even though it’s now 1/2″ / 1.25cm thick.Making larger, more complex scars can help hide repetitive, parallel wire scars. In this example, blue areas mark where wire scars might be altered, rendering them less obvious. Using a small chisel to make slight excavations just below the bark.After taking down the ridges where the wire scars are worst. It helps to think about camouflage here. Try taking small chunks away rather than mirroring the spiraling wire scars with new spiraling wounds.I find this latex product assists in closing wounds faster, Kirikuchi. The callus / woundwood that will grow from removed ridges tends to mitigate the annoying spiral of a wire scar. Though counterintuitive, making larger, more complex wounds can help mask old wire scars. 

 Richard Dorfman says:September 17, 2021 at 3:43 am
Great tip, Michael. Will it work as well on a Japanese or Trident maple where the bark is lighter and the grain is more uniform in pattern?crataegus says:September 17, 2021 at 9:38 amHi Richard, yes, it does work with maples. The tridents are easier because the bark sloughs off eventually, the Japanese less so because the bark is smoother and it will take longer to be less intrusive. but you can disguise bad scars on almost anything, with a bit of care. I’d not recommend Kirikuchi on maples unless you use a very light coat, maybe try putty or Top Jin latex. Won’t give such a large callus. quince are just difficult to close at all, and there Kirikuchi is helpful.
 mac410 says:September 17, 2021 at 6:25 am
Michael, Do you think this technique would work on heavy wire scars on white or black pine? I mean scars that will never grow out on a couple of branches.crataegus says:September 17, 2021 at 9:30 amYes this can work with almost anything, I’ve tried on a lot of plants. The worst are the ones that are always smooth barked…those take a long time to get anywhere with.
  RAY NORRIS says:September 17, 2021 at 7:09 am
Excellent tip Michael
Sent from my iPhone

  Lani Black says:September 17, 2021 at 9:12 am
Thank you for this technique Micheal. I am fixing wire scars on my 6 year old Japanese Quince now. My question is the same as above, dare I do the same on a trident?crataegus says:September 17, 2021 at 9:29 amYes it can work for trident too. The Kirikuchi works well for quince as they don’t close wounds well, but on the trident you might try a putty or another latex or risk too large a bulge from the woundwood. They close up well without much encouragement.
  Lani Black says:September 17, 2021 at 2:09 pmThank you, I’ll try it.
  Ray Stagner says:September 17, 2021 at 11:36 am
Thank you for this info. Going to give it a try

  David Wheeler (Portland Japanese Garden volunteer says:September 17, 2021 at 11:57 am
Hi Michael…….curious – is “Bonsai Bond – Pro’ the same as ‘Kinkuchi’?
Also, do you know of a product that can be used as a ‘filler’ for really deep wounds? …so that the tree can heal over the filler.crataegus says:October 1, 2021 at 10:30 amI believe that’s a different product. Also a latex product, and worthy, although I’m not sure if it has whatever Kirikuchi has in it, maybe gibberellic acid. As for filling over wounds, I’ve had good luck with PC-7, a two part putty epoxy.
  The “New” Bonsai Northwest
 About Bonsai Northwest

Bonsai Northwest has been supporting the art and hobby of bonsai in the Pacific Northwest since 1985. Bonsai Northwest was founded by the incredibly talented Sharon Muth. She founded the business to sell her handcrafted bonsai pots to local club members. As the business expanded, it incorporated finished bonsai trees, beginner bonsai lessons, and fine Japanese pottery. When Sharon’s son, John Muth, took the reins of the family business, he pioneered importing bonsai trees and expanded the availability of bonsai pottery throughout the U.S.

In 1985, Bonsai Northwest moved to a large retail shop in Tukwila, just south of Seattle. After decades of faithful service to the bonsai community, the retail shop closed its doors in 2020. Throughout its 53-year history, Bonsai Northwest helped bonsai culture flourish throughout the country. We are so very grateful to the Muth family for fostering the bonsai community and making it what it is today.

Bonsai Northwest is still dedicated to serving the bonsai community. While we are figuring out our next phase, we encourage you to reach out, join us on social media, and support our sister businesses. If you’d like to follow along as our journey unfolds, please sign up for our newsletter. For those of you who may not be aware Bonsai Northwest  https://www.bonsainw.com/ has now opened for business online and in two locations:
Northgate Location & HoursBonsai Northwest (Northgate)          Monday Closed
1501 N. 125th St                              Tuesday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Seattle, Washington 98133              Wednesday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
+12062428244                                 Thursday 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
                                                         Friday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
                                                         Saturday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
                                                         Sunday ClosedMaple Valley Location & HoursBonsai Northwest (Maple Valley)      Monday Closed
23710 SE 221st St                            Tuesday Closed
Maple Valley, Washington 98038      Wednesday Closed
+1 206-841-1262                              Thursday Closed
                                                          Friday Closed
                                                          Saturday Closed
                                                         Sunday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

They offer pre-bonsai material, soil and soil components, aluminum and copper wire and gift cards. Their services include re-potting and tree sitting as well as styling, pruning and beginner classes.     
Stolen Bonsai!!!
— Bruce Williams
Did that headline get your attention?
Each time I see a headline like that, I’m drawn to the article, no matter the location.

This article is the result of several email conversations with one of the newest members of our Puget Sound Bonsai Association. She’s newly retired and now has more time for her bonsai. She’s also a member of one of our sister clubs, the Olympic Bonsai Club.

We began discussing how the PSBA doesn’t publish the names and addresses of the members or make a complete roster available to the membership for security reasons. Actually, our club has a roster available only to the officers with member’s names, email addresses and membership status. Our registrar does have a spreadsheet with physical addresses and other contact information. Most of the officers will never have access to that data. They have no need.

 Apparently, some other clubs publish a roster with the full information and address of each member. They make it available to all their members. The PSBA leadership believes if a fellow member needs your location he should ask you. Then, it becomes your decision.

That first, email exchange led us to discussing both recent and not-so-recent theft of bonsai from professional museums, display gardens and artists, as well as hobbyists, like most of us.

Many of us are aware of the recent theft from the Pacific Bonsai Museumhttps://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/two-stolen-bonsai-trees-mysteriously-returned-washington-museum-180974191/

There was a large theft this year at Eastern Leaf in California. https://abc7.com/bonsai-trees-burglary-eastern-leaf-chino-nursery-jason-chan/11086659/

Our newest member shared an article from Bonsai Magazine  from January, 1997,  by Diane Robinson, Dave’s wife, concerning bonsai thefts which including a theft at Elandan Gardens. 

A few years ago, when I was in Japan for the Kokofu, there was a theft at a well known nursery there while the master and most of the apprentices were at the show. Also, a short search on the internet will bring more examples than you may be willing to read (6.8 million results in 1.7 seconds!).

Why is important to secure bonsai in this age of increasing crime and reduced prosecution and recovery of goods? In the past, a person would be crazy to covet sticks in pots. Most folks had no concept of the art. Many thought bonsai trees were not worth the time it takes to steal them.

You know it’s not true now.

After some time in this avocation, your purchased and collected pre-bonsai material will likely have value to someone. Then, there are the pots. The total number of your pots,  including all the production pots, might add up. For those of you who care for “finished bonsai”…  …be very concerned.

After those emails and some reflection, I’ve come to understand my personal motivation to safeguard my unfinished trees. THEY ARE LIKE MY CHILDREN!  THEY ARE MY FAMILY! I don’t want anyone to take them because of the years I’ve spent with them. There’s the time spent planning and dreaming of what they might become. I cherish the hours of peace they’ve give me when I work on them. And, they are very generous with their time when I just sit sharing the sunlight with them. They may not be more than sticks in pots to most folks, but they are much, much more to me.
So, what are any of us to do?
Professional bonsai curators and artists don’t speak or write of their precautions. But, several bonsai forums have posts on bonsai security. There’s physical security, like fastening trees to benches, building of security fences and locked gates.


There’s also electronic security like motion detecting lights, pressure sensors, infrared beams, and video systems. You may read about guard dogs or more exotic animals used for security as well as some items that may be illegal, like electric fences. Recently, some comments have turned to newer electronic devices like the microchips similar to those used in pet identification that are pressed into the root ball of a tree or hidden in the shari.
“July 3, 2015“BON-TAG is the world’s first bonsai tree security device providing theft deterrent identification system through the use of Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID).
“Each tag is programmed with an unique alpha numeric code (there are over 550 billion codes available that guarantees that no duplication exists) which confirms the ownership of the tagged property.
“The tag must be placed on either the tree or the pot to be effective. The small size of the tag allows it to be covertly installed within the bonsai tree to be identified. For identification of valuable bonsai pots a resin encapsulated pill sized tag is available which can bonded to the pots interior or sealed within a cavity with an adhesive. The kit also comes with warning signs and stickers.
“In the event that legal ownership of a tagged Bonsai is in dispute or stolen and recovered, ownership can be verified by the police by revealing the unique ID number.”
There’s also been some discussion on the use of locator chips that can be used with a cell phone. They are similar to the devices sold to locate a lost pet or car keys. 
What is practical for the average bonsai owner?Physical security such as padlocks and cables can be overcome by a good set of bolt cutters. Do you intend to unlock a tree every time you rotate it or work on it?Although a good fence, especially if it blocks visibility from the outside, may not be a deterrent to a knowledgeable, motivated person. It does reduce the chances someone will discover you have something they will want to steal.Some electronic security like motion lights may be appropriate since many homeowners have them as a matter of course.Perhaps the museums and display gardens can afford the more exotic electronics like infrared beams, pressure sensors and video systems. Is it practical or cost effective for an average owner?To the point, a video system doesn’t prevent a crime. It only provides you a nice visual and audio memento of the theft.Even a monitored alarm system may do no more than notify you and the monitoring station a theft is in progress.If there was a sign that said all persons were on recorded video, would that prevent a theft or cause someone to wonder what item is so valuable you need to have a camera focused on it?Continuous, up-to-date, photographs of your trees are a great idea and the best record of your ownership, but, they do not prevent theft.Many guard dogs can be bribed or sedated. And, the illegal solutions are, after all, illegal.Those various identifying and marking chips might have use AFTER a theft. They are useful if a tree is sold and a buyer has the special scanner to read the chip. Of course, anyone who buys a tree will scan it to return it to a rightful owner. Right?Tracking and locating chips may work if you can afford them, if you remember to change the batteries when needed and if you’re bold enough to charge after some person, unknown to you except for him being a thief.The most important answer to the question of securing our bonsai from theft is to keep quiet about your trees. A crook can’t steal something if he doesn’t know you own it. Like our PSBA membership lists, keep your interest in bonsai private:Don’t display your trees where a stranger can see them. Keep your garden private for you and your immediate family to enjoy. If you do have a tree on display in a public arena, be certain you are identified by an initial and a vague address (eg: “Artist is: B. Williams from Seattle, WA”)A fence that no one can see through or over may be a good investment.Minimize your bonsai tree displays at home. Sure, you’re rightfully proud of that one, special JBP. Do you really need it on a gold stand, in the middle of your garden, with spotlights on it?Be aware of who may see your trees. Your child’s playmates or a workman who might be needed in your garden will certainly see your trees. But, no one will be as interested if your bonsai appear to be plants in pots in your garden.Don’t brag! What’s more important to you, your trees or the extremely minor boost in ego you may feel when talking up yourself and your hobby?Tell your partner, children or whoever you’ve decided to take some security measures because of your concerns. Ask them not speak of your hobby or your trees.Know how important it is to be aware of who knows you own and practice bonsai. Your sister-in-law’s second cousin probably doesn’t need to know about your passion. After all, “Loose lips do sink ships…”Stay off social media! (See #6 above). Setting aside those professionals who must advertise to earn their livelihood, is there an advantage to you when the whole world views your trees on Facebook? You have much more personal information in your social media account than you think you do. With all your information already available to the public, it’s possible to discover your location.Do you see a pattern here?Keep your trees and pots out of the sight of strangers.Don’t speak of your hobby to casual acquaintances or strangers.Teach family and trusted friends to do the same.Don’t highlight your trees.Display them as just plants in pots that are part of your garden.Remember, the best security against bonsai theft is anonymity.Above all, enjoy your collection.
The beauty of our trees and our pleasure is why we do this.    Pacific Bonsai Museum

A Bonsai Solstice
  DECEMBER 18 AT 4:00 PM TO 7:00 PM Free

Join us for a quiet stroll in the woods to explore bonsai illuminated by soft lights (and your flashlights). We only open the Museum at night once a year! This is a low-key, family-friendly tradition that warmly embraces the generous spirit of the holidays and community. Suggested donation: $0-$10 for adults.

Practice an art of imagination. See mountains, figures, animals, and even deep space in 30 stones collected from six states by the Northwest Viewing Stone Club of the Puget Sound Bonsai Association. On display at Pacific Bonsai Museum, November 2, 2021 through January 9, 2022.                       
     Twelve-month countdown to the Pacific Bonsai Expo

By Jonas Dupuich  Posted 11/12/2021
 Twelve months from today, the doors will open for the Pacific Bonsai Expo. This makes today a great day to look at your garden and see what your trees look like at this time of year.

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