MARCH 2014 WORKSHOPS AT FUKU-BONSAI

                  Edison Yadao does most of the Introductory Workshop and does a great job.  He's got it down to the essential basics and is consistently able to complete workshops within 30 minutes when we have visitors on a tight time schedule.  Many learn of the workshops from any of the many Big Island guide books.  We never meet those who are writing reviews about us and think some are by those who have taken workshops from Edison as the reviews are very complimentary.  Generally visitors who take the trouble to purchase and study guidebooks have a fully scheduled vacation plan so its important that those with limited time receive the most important introductory information in the limited time they've allowed. 

                 Those who took workshops in the past receive the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai and keep in contact throughout the year,or if they have any problems, or if they are in need of special gifts.  Our most recent visitors Margaret and David LaMure took a workshop with Edison last year.  But in mid-year, by the time he called, his tree was already dropping leaves and he thought it had died.  It had creases on the trunk and was under watered.  So he was advised to soak it in water and nothing happened for over two weeks.  As he was getting ready to throw it out, he noticed the start of a new leaf and he proudly showed us photos of what he now calls his "Resurrection Tree!".

                 Early in this year's vacation, they arrived on an especially busy day and made arrangements for a workshop on an afternoon we are normally not busy. It worked out great.  Edison was tied up and I wanted to talk story and run a non-standard workshop.  Recently we had been doing a lot of trials with the 1:10 Project shallow saucers,  root-over-rock plantings, and the new Premium Prepared Bonsai Stock to be introduced later this year.  The LaMires live in the high desert area where the humidity is low, but having successfully revived his tree, he was game to take on a larger challenge.  So I suggested planting two Premium Prepared Bonsai trees in a Root-Over-Rock manner, and potting it into a shallow 1:10 Project 9" pot and they agreed.

         Meet Margaret and David LaMure of Alto, New Mexico with two premium prepared bonsai stock, , a presculptured rock, and the 9" diameter x 1" deep 1:10 Project shallow saucer.  This was going to be a challenge as they had under watered last year's workshop tree and would need to pay more careful attention to root-over-rock trees ---  especially those in the shallow 1:10 Project saucers! 
         They started out with a lot of confidence to carefully clean out most of the media between the roots while I explained how the rock was sculptured, it's multiple planting "saddles,"  how the "root trail crevasses" naturally flowed from various positions for the roots to follow, how they would follow the sphagnum moss, and find hidden caches of Nutrient Granules as the roots travelled into the media below. 
        Margaret's tree was the larger dominant one and we positioned it on the highest saddle just below the top of the rock and had it slightly slanting.  David holds his slightly smaller tree that will be placed off to the side and below to compliment.  I showed them how to create a generous "cushion" on the saddle, how to spread the roots to seat it securely, and how to use the paper coated wire to really pull it down hard into the cushion.  The thin wire will rot off after keeping the plant in place to be established but before it can bite into and harm the roots.  
         David's tree quickly went on to the second saddle and was secured in place.  Margaret got to start dibbling in media between the roots and was surprised at how much media went in although very little shows.  By probing and pulling aside sphagum moss, she found unfilled cavities that she dibbled and filled.      
          I think Margaret has a little better vision when she puts on her glasses and led the pruning to offset any roots that were lost in the process.  David was observing carefully and make a good coach. Margaret was especially busy as she was the one taking a lot of notes!
          Then it was David's turn to do the hard parts,  to properly run wires through the holes near the bottom of the rock to attach it to the saucer, to layer the coarse, medium, fine gravel layers , and topped with a layer of fine organic-rich material to encourage growth of root hairs.  Then installing the aluminum foil collar, touching up and adding some transition media to allow roots to grow into the potting media,  to firm all in place and to make air holes.  These two really make a good team and are fun to teach! 
                There must have been a lot of interesting talk as I somehow stopped taking photos.  But all went well and we discussed that it was time for David to repot his small potted Dragon into a larger #8 Conversion Kit, and how we've encouraged the practice for making major design changes each time you repot a dragon.  If it's growing upwards, pot it at a slant and twist it a bit so the dragon will develop a suggestion of movement.  Upon doing it a few times, the dragon will develop more complexity and become more interesting. 

                On this workshop critique sheet, David wrote:  "This is my 2nd time with David and Eddie.  We hope the notes and memory will allow us to enjoy bonsai in our high desert of New Mexico.  Mahalo!"

                 David tells me that New Mexico has a lot of beautiful interesting rocks and he's looking forward to selecting and planting some.  In the past year he's learned how to handle our plants and his other trees are doing well.  Now the a solid knowledge of rock planting techniques, we'll be looking forward to seeing New Mexico rock plantings.  I suspect that David is starting to think about teaching others and we urge our study group members to do so.  Those who are willing to teach often learn the most!  It was a great day!

 
*** Return to the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Tropical & 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