By Gerardo Ortiz (Redwood City, California) Beginning Study Group member


         EDITOR INTRODUCTION.  Gerardo visited the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center, signed up for the Beginner Study Group,  did the first workshop here and #2 and #3 last month as reported at www.fukubonsai.com/1a113a.html

        Without a doubt this has been the more exciting and challenging of the three basic programs. Before doing anything to the plant I have been working on the rock and showing my progress to David as well as reviewing old reports.  As I was advised, I made the saddle on top about half inch wide and deep and increase the number of the root-trail crevasses.


       This particular plant has a big rot on the front.   I made my root-trail crevasses based on that. On the top saddle we have to make a cushion with damp sphagnum moss. Then we place some white Nutrient Granules on top and in the root trails and another layer of the sphagnum moss  to completely cover the saddle and the root trails. 



         Once the rock was prepared, we started working on the plan to untangle the roots and I quickly realized that this plant has a bigger roots system than the previous ones. So my original plan changed. 

However, thanks to the advice of Mr. Fukumoto, my rock had enough root-trail crevasses and was easy to place the tree on the saddle, separate the roots so each one drops following the root-trail crevasses down.  I used paper-covered bindwire over the roots to secure the tree to the rock.



        The next step is to tie the tree to the pot using the wires across the bottom of the rock.  Once secured you should be able to pick it up by lifting the trunk.





          I used 6" tall aluminum foil accordion added media and squeeze gently to preserve the accordion structure.   Watering is the same, in  2 inches  of water for 30 min.



          I showed my trees in the community center where I teach Taekwondo and I have at least eight people interested in learning about the bonsai. What do you think?  Thank you very much.
         Best regards,  - - -
Gerardo Ortiz




           Gerardo has taken excellent photos but provided minimal captions and while I believe the plants will survive,  I think he could improve by modifying his technique as follows:


     1.   Increase the size of the cushion on the saddle to about 1" thick with alternate layers of body mix and sphagnum moss.  When you spread the roots wide over the "cushion," press down hard and the cushion will fill any and all gaps between the roots and the rock.  When making the first tie,  go between the trunk and main branch,  down and under the rock, up and through the trunk and main branch so the bindwire goes around twice.  Then tie and pull the tree down tight, take up all slack, and tie.  If you only tie across the roots,  your tree may not be tight  and in solid contact with the rock.


      2.   Even after you complete tying around a number of times, use a dibble and see if you can move any roots and if there are any air spaces between the roots and the rock.  Usually there will be some hollow spots. Compress the roots to enlarge the hollow area and fill with body media and a small ball of damp sphagnum moss.  Take your time and do this carefully.  It is better to compress the roots into bundles with as much of the rock showing. 


      3.   When you think you have done a good job,  screen some body media and collect some fine cinder and dust and organic matter and add some water until it is fluffy and damp.  Coat the roots and get this fine material between all roots and also coating all roots about 1/8" thick.  When you complete the accordion fold foil, you should have a light even coating of fine materials and this will promote tiny hair roots which will help to really lock in to get the tree quickly established.  Leave the foil on for at least 6 months and slowly remove from the top a 1/2" at a time every few weeks until all foil removed.  It's better to leave the foil on longer rather than taking it off too early.


             REGARDING GIVING CLASSES TO YOUR STUDENTS.  I have confidence with your teaching experience, that you will do a good job.  Decide if there is interest for doing one or if they would like to learn the three basic training concepts as you did.  Initially for the first tree, plan to teach just four at a time and give each student enough attention.  Explain the objectives and procedures and coach them through.  I do not think it is necessary to do an actual demonstration for each group.  I can send you a set of photo teaching aids that you can use as a flip chart instead of demonstrating. 


             You might also print out your Journal reports of the workshop you're teaching and do plan a number of steps so you explain each step and bring all students along together.  If some students catch on and complete faster, ask them to assist others and they will learn faster too.  If there are eight students,  you can give two classes of 4 each.  Send me photos with your first group report listing the steps and any remarks made by the students for each step.  Take a photo of each group with their trees and any comments.  Send for comments and space the classes so they'll do one per week if they are doing all three ---  sumo,  roots,  and root-over-rock.


             After the first sumo class, you can combine the two groups and would be able to lead a class of eight students as they will need less help after the first class.  I recommend that you make orders for 16 IWP's at a time as this will give you the best 50% discount and free shipping.  Retail price is $29.95 + $15 shipping or about $45 if they ordered directly one unit.  Your cost will be 16 x $15 = $240.  So your cost would be $15 each.  I recommend that you set the class fee at a minimum of $30 and a maximum of $45 as that is the cost they normally would have to pay (but that does not include personal assistance.  This will give you a little extra to cover any expenses. 


             OTHER OPTIONAL ITEMS AVAILABLE FROM FUKU-BONSAI. (POTTING MEDIA)  It may be good to order some extra Fuku-Bonsai potting media and the best value is a three gallon quantity sent via postal flat rate box.  This is segregated into 1) coarse bottom,  2) body mix, and 3) fine top dressing with each bulk bagged.  This is good to have if you or your students do extra tall roots or use a larger container for growing-on to larger sizes.  Cost is $12/gallon = $36 + $18 postal flat rate shipping = $54.  As you advance it is good to have sifting screens.  Mine are 8"x12"x2" deep and I have 1/2", 3/8", 1/4", 1/8", and 1/16".  These are especially recommended if you go into the 1:10 project shallow potting or do contouring of the media surfaces above the rim of the pot. 


            OPTIONAL FAST-TRACK STUDY GROUP ITEMS.  The first major new item is a larger Premium Workshop Package that features an older more developed Premium Prepared Bonsai Stock,  a similar but larger rectangular 8" pot (instead of the 5" pot) and larger amounts of media, etc.  This is not fully ready but I can make enough if you want to try a few.  Normal cost is $59.95 ($60) + $15 shipping.  If you order when you order 16 each IWP you'll quality for 50% off and free shipping so your net cost is $30 each.  You can use these for demonstrations or to start building stock for future training sessions including larger sumos, or taller roots.  Some fast-trackers pick up 8 regular IWPs and 8 Premium for their own use, but also if their students want to keep advancing.  Other items could include unsculptured or sculptured rocks and I can send more information if needed.  


            I hope all of the above is helpful and you'll give me feedback on what works best for you.  Regards and aloha,  ~~~David  (david.f@fukubonsai.com


*** Return to the November issue of the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai
*** Go to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
*** Go to the Fuku-Bonsai website
Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014