A few months' backlog

My apologies for not updating this page any sooner. I have been meaning to add images to the Gallery but I just haven't taken the time to do that. We've had a couple good study groups/workshops since the last update.

Rusty Harris brought several of his trees down from the Charlotte area. He showed us how to improve a chosen front by twisting the branches into submission ...or into place. Those pictures are posted in the Gallery, under his name. Take a look. Without the description it just looks like he put too much wire on the tree. It took 2 sets of hands and some carefully applied force. I was surprised that it took that much force to twist the trunk, but even more surprised that the trunk didn't snap. I'd love an update on the tree, though I'm sure its healthy.

The work on the large holly continued. We removed one more trunk that improved the silhouette greatly. This tree just needs some time to develop the branching and foliage since we've cut so much away. It has backbudded profusely and we thinned out half of it during one of our meetings. The other half needs thinning so bring out your pruners and have at it.

After a forest workshop, John brought out a small trident forest that he wanted our opinion on. It looked good as it was but we decided that it could use some work. After a little discussion on what makes a good forest, and appropriate design, John turned his back for a second and we brought out the loppers. (He donated this one as a "study group" tree so we didn't just take it on ourselves to hack at his tree.... Don't be frightened.) I have some after shots that I need to post in the gallery too. Hopefully a little time will make this one a show stopper as well.

John is going to be showing us some pine care techniques at this month's meeting (July 28). If you're not a pine nut, bring your trees and we'll lend you a hand with them if you need it.

Styling is complete; or ...March 24, 2007 highlights

Well, thats a big lie. We did do some work on the big holly I linked to last time. Its a drastic improvement. I believe everyone agrees that what was done needed doing, but it wasn't completely obvious to everybody at first. We had to remove a good bit of wood to get back to what we have left. The plan is to have a nice broad crown a bit lower on the trunk. We left some trunks pretty long but they'll be shortened eventually.

Here is the "after" photo for the holly.

This is a proposed future for the holly.

We also started working on a shimpaku juniper. The styling decisions on this one were a bit more difficult to make. There was a huge section of trunk that was growing pretty straight, but had little growth on one side. We'll eventually be going for an informal upright with the possibility of a rather impressive jin growing off to the left. Sorry that the photo linked below doesn't show this tree to its best advantage.

Here is the Shimpaku Juniper mentioned above.

As Promised: Material for the Mar 24 meeting

Here is the picture of the tree John has offered to let us work on at the study group. I told you it was big.

Big Yaupon Holly


Feb 24 meeting highlights

After talking about our individual trees, we worked together doing some rough styling on a large Parson's Juniper Jimmy Kneece grew and let us work on. John offered that tree for the study group to work on over the course of the next several months. It should really be something when we get done with it. Hopefully I'll try to get some pictures of the stock we're working on so we can show it off on the web.

John asked for some help next month with a monster Yaupon Holly. He wants it reduced in height about 4" and work on creating foliage pads. I've asked John to get some pictures of that tree so that we can see what we're dealing with before the start of the meeting. I'm not exaggerating (much) when I call this thing a monster; Its HUGE. This may take more than one day to get it cut back into shape but it'll be a show stopper then.


We are getting lots of interest on the website. We're getting a decent amount of traffic and have links from some pretty good sites that should really drive traffic towards us. If you know of a place where we ought to have a link, let me know and I'll work to get a link from the site.

We have several new folks expressing interest in the group each month, but so far we haven't met everyone whose expressed interest. Hopefully we'll see each of you soon enough. Thanks for the support.

Jan. 29, 2007

January 27th meeting highlights

We had a great time getting together. We still have room for more of you so come when you can. The weather was perfect and John played the part of the perfect host. I'd never have thought that a meeting outdoors in January would happen, but it did and was pretty nice.

A few highlights: John and I repotted a nice shimpaku juniper into its first bonsai pot. We all played a part in selecting the front and the planting angle. The roots and movement along the trunk were nice and the foliage has already undergone training. It just needed to move out of its ugly nursery container into a bonsai pot. Its also reassuring to see someone take so many roots off but know from experience the tree is going to do well. Careful inspection of the roots showed plenty of feeder roots available to sustain the tree in the coming months.

While John prepared another tree for repotting I gave a brief overview of wiring on a Japanese Black Pine I styled last Summer. The tree grew too much too fast for me to keep up with it last fall and I managed to leave the wire on too long. I thought I'd get a jump on wiring it so that I can have the wire off by the time the branches start expanding. There were a lot of questions regarding wire size, anchoring the wire, and at what angle the wire should be applied. While I was wiring I tried to answer as many questions as I knew the answers. It turned out to be the best wiring I'd done. I guess I need the accountability.

During the lull of the wiring job, John brought out a Trident that had busted the nursery container it was growing in. It was an absolute behemoth whose roots had escaped down into the ground accounting for its growth out of the pot. He decided to plant this one back into a nursery container after removing the roots that didn't need to be there. It was interesting to see the difference in roots between the earlier shimpaku and this trident. (I wanted it to go into an over-sized container, but John thought it better in the nursery container.)

Jan. 16, 2007

Meeting time set @ 10am

The inaugural meeting

Our meeting schedule, while flexible, is going to be the 4th Saturday of the month at the Green Thumb Bonsai Nursery, the first of which will be January 27, 2007. (I need to flesh out the time, so check back for the time in the next day or two.)


We'll each be "presenting" at this meeting. Please bring (at least) one of your trees. Be it your best or your worst, be prepared to describe its strengths and weaknesses. We'll talk about where we could see the trees going stylistically, and maybe offer advice on care and potting (pot selection!!! That'd make a good workshop!). There might even be time to work on a tree or two, or repot some trees if you're willing/ready to. If you're planning on that, you'll need to bring your tools and supplies(highly encouraged).

If you'd like to bring some sort of refreshments, ...thats an area I've not really organized. I'll try to remember to grab a soda or 3. Anyone willing to coordinate, or willing just to bring something, email me and I'll forward pertinent particulars to whomever needs them.

Any sessions you'd be willing to lead or have an interest in, let me know. If you know of any gardening "types" that might be interested, or can think of any other ways to promote the group, I'll bend over backwards to help you.

Dec. 21, 2006

More interest means good things. Again, I'm waiting on contact info for a handful of folks, but we've had more interest via customers of Green Thumb Bonsai. I'm happy to know that John's doing his part to promote the group. The more people that find out about it, the better in my opinion.

We need to set a time. My arbitrary decision for the 2nd Saturday of the month doesn't fly well with some people so I ask you, When is a good time for you to meet? I think that Saturday will be the ideal day for it, so choose one and lets get started. Just email me and I'll disperse this info on this link as soon as we've decided.

Search Engine Rankings:

We are ranking pretty high for the relevant search criteria on Google, as well as Yahoo & MSN (SC bonsai club, Upstate SC bonsai club). I'm hoping that this placement in the search engines will be a boon for the club after Christmas. I wish "SC Bonsai" gave us a little higher ranking, but alas thats not the hand we're dealt.

I'll continue working on making this site useful, as well as promoting it to relevant organizations. I ask that you do the same. Please if you do get a link from another site, let me know about it. I appreciate any help I can get.

Dec. 11, 2006


Well, I'm pretty excited about whats come from the simple promotions I've been doing. I've got flyers out at a handful of nurseries in the upstate, and the propietors and staff of each have been most helpful. I hope they'll help me promote the group to anyone buying something that suspiciously resembles bonsai-related materials.

I could use your help in getting the word out. At first I wasn't sure that the website itself would be a viable marketing tool, but with the holidays coming, more people might be looking for a club to join to help save their bonsai. If you'd be willing to see about getting some flyers hosted I'll be more than happy to get you the word document, or even print them and see about getting them to you. Let me know and I'll work with you on this.

Group stuff

Now, what all of you are interested in: I've managed to located 3 people that are interested in the study group. I'll be contacting (preferably via email, though I don't have email addresses for everyone involved) those who I've been in contact with to see when would be a good time. I know the holidays are a little busy so we may have to put this off for January some time.

There are some other people (4-5 is a good number) who likely are interested, but I'm waiting on their contact information. These are people who John Green of Green Thumb Bonsai says are active in bonsai already. Hopefully they'll have some experience to pull from.

Not exactly group related

I've been on a few bonsai-related trips recently. I went to Summerville SC on Thanksgiving and spent some one on one with the proprietor of Tokanoma Bonsai and (rough) styled two junipers. In so doing, he mentioned a strong interest in seeing our group make it. He volunteered his services to do a demonstration and/or workshop to kick off the group. He has some excellent shimpaku juniper and black olive stock as well.

I just returned from a weekend in Columbia. I spent a good part of the day with the President and Webmaster for the South Carolina Bonsai Club. He showed me around his garden and trees and was very gracious to answer my questions. He then contacted a few of his club's members and we soon were getting a tour of their gardens. The trees blur together now, but there was some fantastic material, even in their winter garb, displayed among mounds of mulch keeping them warm for winter. One of his members, whose garden we saw last is a vendor of bonsai materials. As a group, it would be great to go down in the spring and browse thru all of his selection. If I recall correctly there were a few "Best In Show" trees (from past Carolina Bonsai Expos) sitting in his garden. His selection of pottery was very nice, as were the other members.

The generosity of these guys with their time and expertise speaks very highly of their group. They each have an interest in seeing our group succeed, and I can foresee a lot of cooperation between the two groups. Things are looking pretty exciting for our group whenever we can manage to get started.

Thanks for sticking through all this with me. I'm not a glorious leader, and neither am I terribly organized. If you have any questions or comments, please!!! Let me have 'em. I really need to know when is a good time to meet with you guys. Does the 2nd Saturday of each month sound good? For instance, that'd be January 13 of '07. That sounds like a good date for a club meeting to me. Does it to you? Email me @ admin@upstatebonsai.com

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