I got a call out of the west side of the Big Island for the best time to get together and on the appointed day, this guy showed up with a lot of energy and enthusiasm! He's a wonderful story-teller and we talked a lot.  Somehow I ended up talking and doing and got his excitement about bonsai to a higher level. He liked the idea of joining our Fast-Track Study Group!  WOW!  Two Ryans with a lot of energy and able to do high-growth tropical Hawaii year-around outdoor bonsai of indoor houseplant bonsai! 

                 But "Kanaka Ryan" is a private-type guy that doesn't like to have his name or photo used so I suggested a pen name that may change in the next issue .  I'm okay with that and maybe one day he'll change his policy.  In the meantime he's raring to go! 

                 I expect a lot more from our young Hawaiians and just a day or so after his visit I got his first report.  And of course having set an exceptionally higher standard,  he had a choice of whether to accept his first effort or do a redo.  The first Ryan is used to doing redos and always improves.  But Kanaka Ryan has a personality that adds a nice new twist!  Here's his report:


              By "Kanaka Ryan" (West Hawaii)           

The rules never change when planting a bonsai tree. Your kit comes with everything you need.

(1           1.   Position the tie down wire in the bottom of your pot.

(2)          2.   Add the coarse bottom gravel, stack it high and add the plastic separator.

(3)          3.   Add Ĺ bag of the body media and tap down.

(4)          4.   Add tree, use tie down wire and secure.

(5)          5.   Add the other Ĺ bag of media and tap down.

(6)          6.   Place plant in water bath for 30 min.

(7)          7.   Ok youíre done.    Or are you?




       Did you just short yourself out of an amazing journey with       your new premium quality bonsai?

           If your happy with your newly planted friend. Good Deal, I hope it brings you many years of happiness. If you were looking for more out of this experience please read on, your life is about to changeÖ

           I bought one of the kits above this weekend, I followed the rules just like above and I ended up with a potted bonsai, but I didnít feel like I did my best, I felt like I took someoneís hard work and moved it from their pot in to my pot, gave it some gravel, a little water, and washed my hands.


ENHANCING THE EXPERIENCE ---  A better bonsai with an enlighted attitude! 

            This is the tree I started with.

             And this is the tree I ended up with.


           Growing Bonsai trees is an amazing thing.  I knew if I was going to get the most out of this experience I was going to need to give more, so I hit the drawing board. I spent about an hour studying my plant. Then all of a sudden I started to see it. My plant was talking to me. I knew what I needed to do! Inside the kit there was a small piece of lava, this is a very important part of planting your bonsai. It can be used as a crutch if one side of your tree has more roots then the other. You can use it to add height to your tree. Broaden the trunk base.  The list goes on and on. If you keep reading I will show you how I used mine.

          As the years go on all my bonsaiís will get bigger, fuller more root structure etc. But they all start off the same way as "Sumo."  "Sumo" just means that the plant is squatty with thick branches. They look just like a sumo wrestler, short and fat. "Roots" is when you take a Sumo and extend the roots to give it a longer profile. I knew from the start that I wanted to make this a Sumo.  I want to extend the roots vertical to add mass and still keeping it short and squatty, in the future I will extend the root and start the process of growing it taller, but for today letís focus on the sumo.



         This is what I saw. A man holding a woman in his arms.  Do you see it?

NOTE FROM DAVID:  Ryan sent a photo with a man and woman draw in but I couldn't figure out how to reproduce it with my limited computer skills!  Sorry Ryan!  Think of the section of the branch below the green section as the woman's head and the long root crossing over as her shoulder, then hip to knee and down her calf.  Do you see it?  There's a man there too with the two roots in front being his legs! 


         Step one, after you see the direction you want to take the tree. Use the rock to help support the roots that need to be moved.

         After getting the roots in just the right place you need to hold them there, I used a small piece of paper covered wire, wrapped it around not to tight but not to loose.


           Then I place the tree in my already prepped, pot. I use the tie downs to tie it in place so it wonít move around.

NOTE FROM DAVID:  Ryan won't tell you but I will.  He moved that large root from being straight down to crossing over to the left to form the woman. Do you see it!


           One good tip is to point the apical trunk straight up this gives the tree more character.

NOTE FROM DAVID:  Ryan really included this photo to give you another chance to recognize the man and woman.  Do you see it now?


          Now I press the top coat of gravel around the tree. It is firmly in place. I noticed that there are very fine, small exposed roots, that Iím worried need some attention.



      I decided to build a collar, not the same type of collar used when making a root tree. My goal is not to extend the roots, I simply want to protect the ones that may be exposed, I will leave this collar on for 6 months then replant.   - End -     ~~~Kanaka Ryan (West Hawaii)



             FINAL WORDS FROM DAVID.  So there you have it .  .  .  the first article by Kanaka Ryan!  Interesting fellow and I'm going to enjoy him!  You might not notice but this really began as a standard Sumo article, and considering I spent a bit of time with him,  he has to perform to a higher standard!  But putting together a "redo" story is difficult and boring.  I asked him to teach how to use the accent rock that is part of the kit,  to lean the tree so the major apical growth faces up for stronger growth, and to raise it up higher to build a larger buttressing base --- and to add a collar to protect the roots from drying out while doing it.

              Another of the rules of being a member of the Fast Track Study Group is to be creative.  Not just produce another story like all those before him, and that's a challenge.  Another rule is act with confidence that you really know what you're doing (and if necessary to fake it)!  Nice job!  Consider sticking a stick or rock between the trunk and the left branch and the right branch to get them to grow outwards instead of up so they can start providing a shady leafy canopy for your man holding a woman!  I'm looking forward to your next "Roots" story and challenge you to top this one!  Stay tuned!  ~~~David

***  Go to August 2013 Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai
***  Go to Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
***  Go to the Fuku-Bonsai website
         ©  Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2013