Robert and Sheryl Silverio helped to evaluate the advanced workshop versions that would be using the Premium Intermediate Prepared Bonsai Stock to be introduced in 2014 with pre-sculptured rocks to be planted using the more difficult "1:10 Project" shallow pots.  Sheryl used a small size rock and a 7" diameter shallow saucer.  Robert used a desk size rock and a 9" saucer.  There are a number of additional specialty supplies that would be part of the workshop package and there will be cost surcharges.  The workshops using Premium Intermediate Prepared Bonsai Stock will only be available to members of the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and our study groups who have completed the three initial Introductory Workshop Packages.


                   There's a huge age,  development, and selection criteria difference between the 2" IWP plants and the 2" PIWP plants even though they are in the same size pot!  There is also a difference in the container, amounts of media, etc.  We will discontinue efforts to teach IWP Root-Over-Rock as it may be too difficult for the basic beginner workshop classes.

                   The "Basic PIWP" will primarily teach "typical sumo" and "typical roots" and these will utilize the 8"diameter x 2" pots that are used for the 8LS8 Premium Potted Bonsai products.  The older more developed plants meet the standards to be used for our HD8 Desk Size Dwarf Schefflera Lava Plantings and with the larger container with more media will be priced the same as desk size which will be a bit higher than twice the small size and the IWP.  Those who have seen the two side-by-side and the results agree that although a bit more than twice the price, PIWP is a better value than IWP! 

                 Especially for a Root-Over-Rock planting in the 1:10 Project shallow saucers,  the smaller PIWP plant is preferable rather than using the larger, older 4LL8 Potted Bonsai.  This especially is true when a person has limited space and does not want a larger bonsai.  This was discussed at length when visited by Robert and Sheryl Silverio of Panama City, Florida who will be retiring in a few years and researching how bonsai could become an interesting part of his post-retirement activity plans.

                  Robert has grown a range of bonsai for many years and has already given Ficus Bonsai workshops with materials obtained from bonsai nurseries. We discussed Fuku-Bonsai workshop objectives and standards and Robert had not heard of any other bonsai nursery that was willing and able to produce such products at any scale.  If they were able to produce it,  it would be very likely that they would grow in for a few more years and attempt to sell them at significantly higher prices.  Although he agrees that bonsai professionals should try to grow higher quality bonsai workshop materials,  either they do not know how or they are not willing to do so. 

                  Fuku-Bonsai believes that such workshop plants are needed for bonsai to become more popular and more successful, and if available, that the bonsai community will grow.  Currently there is a very large interest in bonsai.  But there is also a huge amount of failures.  Those who sell outdoor bonsai to people who clearly state that they want to grow them indoor are participating in very questionable ethical practices.  Their use of "INDOOR BONSAI" for trees that are not recognized as houseplants borders on fraud and misrepresentation.  This widespread practice is the primary reason that there is limited bonsai growth in bonsai clubs that only teach traditional outdoor bonsai.

                  Fuku-Bonsai is the primary exception and to differentiate, we trademarked "TRUE INDOOR BONSAI™" and our plants are the most successful for anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants and follow our cultural sheets.  Sheryl had her laptop computer with her taking voluminous notes while I tried to explain concepts and in more detail than normal and asked Bob to provide me with a detailed evaluation after he returns home and has had an opportunity to review their photos and computer notes.  Here's a summary report:



      The Premium Intermediate Workshop Plants are significantly more developed than the IWP plants.  This workshop used a pre-sculpture rock and that clearly reduced the difficulty factor. The rock had a pre-drilled hole to use to anchor it to the shallow saucer and all needed root trail crevasses for roots to travel down to the media in the container.  Root-Over-Rock (into pot) is the premium long-term bonsai styling that will improve with age compared to "planting into a hole in the rock" that will generally produce a stunted plant that will not continue to develop. Bob took the lead and soon had his tree securely attached to the rock.



       Sheryl claims to be a beginner, but she soon had her tree well anchored to her rock.  Having more developed pre-trained trees produced excellent results and this will result in greater beginner enthusiasm and interest once they become confident that they will be able to successfully grow these plants on window sills in ordinary homes!

        They also have a small greenhouse and see no problems growing Dwarf Schefflera.  They became members of the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation, purchased a range of plants and additional workshop kits,  and will be newest members of our study group.


                 They learned how to install the network of bindwire vertically to tie the plant down to the bottom of the rock, then using the bindwire horizontally to secure down large roots and to hold sphagnum moss in position.   They learned how to dibble media into the edges of the root trail crevasses to push the roots out against the network of bindwire holding roots and sphagnum moss in place and to probe to find hollow spots, to fill them with media, and to close up the hole with moss. 

                 For this workshop,  we made a major deviation from our standard potting media.  Our standard "body mix" was screened through a 1/8" screen to separate small lava granules from the fine lava dust and the fine coconut husk materials.  We first used the standard "Coarse Bottom" to fill half the depth of the shallow container and mounting it high ups against the rock to create an attractive mounding profile.  They learned to use an additional smaller complimentary matching rock to help create a more attractive and interesting surface contour.


                 Once that coarse material was in place,  the medium aggregate granules that had been screened out of our standard "body media" was carefully placed with a spoon to almost the finished surface contour and set in place using a light back-and-forth motion of the flattened spoon until the surface was smooth.  Only when all was as firm as possible,  a 1/8" to 1/4" layer of the fine dust mixed with the fine coconut husk was placed and finished.  At this point, the above photo was taken.

                 Over the past year,  we learned that this fine organic rich layer is needed to quickly allow new hair roots to colonize the surface and to stabilize the very porous surface. In two to three months, the network of fine hair roots are established and  the plant begins to produce an abundance of thin 1/32" to 1/16" small roots.  A few months later, larger roots about 1/8" roots begin to appear.  These are the permanent roots that will continue to grow larger.  At Fuku-Bonsai we remove the small roots to encourage thickening of the permanent roots.  Because of this, it is necessary to properly install the aluminum foil collar and a much more complex method has been developed in the past few months.  


         Bob is shown installing the aluminum foil collar that began as a 12" wide x 27" long  sheet.  It was crumpled then roughly horizontally "accordian folded to about 6" wide with a thicker outer edge.  The outer edge was positioned just inside the saucer rim and the crumpled foil firmly pressed down to hold down the carefully contoured surface.  As it was moved in to meet the rock, the foil was carefully positioned about 1/8" away from the rock and the fine dust/fine organic was placed in that void and the foil pressed against the rock to hold it in position.  The foil was moved up until the fine dust and organic matter totally coated the rock where there were roots and fine root hairs will develop.


              Sheryl finished first as her tree had enough damp sphagnum moss so it was an easy matter to attach enough dust and fine organic matter to encourage root hair growth.  She quickly mastered installing the aluminum foil collar and using narrow monofilament tape,  we ran a tight spiral to compress the roots, media, and moss.  So she completed making air holes and trimming foliage to offset any loss of roots.  Both really didn't need foliage trimming as I had done the bare-rooting carefully and had helped them to position the tree onto the planting cushion with no root damage. Sheryl's small size root-over-rock planting in the small 7" diameter 1:10 Project saucer worked well with the new Premium Intermediate Workshop Plant (PIWP).

              Bob's larger desk size  root-over-rock in the medium size 9" diameter 1:10 Project saucer also worked well.  His is shown before any foliage was trimmed.  I have a lot of confidence in the new concepts and techniques employed in this advanced workshop version using the PIWPs.  A larger 4LL8 may have been too large and more difficult.  The larger 4LL8 may work well with a medium size root-over-rock planting in the largest 12" diameter 1:10 Project saucer.

             The 8LS8 may work well with a large size root-over-rock planting in the components of the #17 Conversion Kit featuring a 17"x12"x2" oval pot. Others in our study group are working different combinations with multiple plants and multiple rocks.  Less than a year ago our study group members were learning basic IWP and they've made amazing progress and some have joined and are taking larger roles in the Journal editorial team.  I fully expect that Sheryl and Bob will be involved too and you'll hear more from them in the future.  IT WAS A REALLY GREAT DAY!  ~~~David (November 25, 2013) 

           ©  Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2013