2022 Alabama Bonsai Society Spring Show, pt. 1

It was our first show since 2019, and it was great to see everyone again, along with the beautiful bonsai that were shown. Enjoy some photos.

Native hackberry from seed, over 30 years old.
Large import JBP, Gyouzan pot. For scale, the table is 6’ wide.
Cascade Korean hornbeam, cotoneaster.
Large exposed root Satsuki, worm eaten Yamaaki pot. Awarded Best in Show.
Old Japanese maple. Note detail of bark in the shot below.
My exposed root Kinsai Satsuki.
Ginkgo showing deadwood.
Twin trunk hornbeam, once part of the club’s collection.
Graceful Japanese maple.
Enormous arakawa Japanese maple.
My Stewartia monadelpha.
Cascade Natal plum.
Large, very nice trident maple.
Crape myrtle.
Pitcher plant accent.
My Japanese black pine, still looking good after Nationals.
Pseudolarix left, cascade Japanese maple, awarded people’s choice. We had over 1200 ballots cast!
One of few Satsuki azaleas in a show normally overrun with them. A cool spring slowed them down this year.
Old imported Japanese Maple twin trunk.

Chinese Quince update

I bought this tree on eBay in 2006, and it is spent some time in the ground, had a few chops, and a few different fronts. But it is finally started to settle into its shape, and I decided to put it in our club’s annual show this year.

I have been bored with some of the trees lately, and less than inspired, so I thought it would be good to try to put a tree or two in the show that have never been shown before. A couple reasons, first, it adds some variety to the show. Second, it pushes me to advance different trees to a higher level. This year, the quince and the Stewartia will be making their debut appearances in a show.

I had already pruned it back a month ago, and sprayed it heavily several times with Mancozeb to stave off the rust. So far, knock on wood, it hasn’t been a problem this year.

The challenge is to balance the foliage so the viewer can see into the tree a little…appreciate the branching structure and exfoliating bark. But not so much that it looks plucked.

I started in the middle of the tree on the front and just started removing large leaves, and those growing downward. Hey, it works on junipers, so why not? Starting in the middle allows me to set a midpoint, where I can get more aggressive in higher, more dense areas, and go heavy on the lower, interior, weaker areas.

I also did just a little light pruning, shortening a few branches, and removing one on the lower right that was kind of bugging me, and distracted my eye from the first bend in the trunk.

After light pruning and some leaf removal.

Notice I shortened the lowest right branch too. The way it was hanging down before made the tree look a bit droopy, while the branching structure is decidedly perky. removing it made a big improvement in my eye. I actually appreciate the negative space, and can take in the lower trunk line better now.

I know the goal of bonsai is to produce the appearance of age, but some trees can look young and vigorous without being sticks in pots.

The final display, Heian Kouso pot, David Knittle stand, and erodium in an accent pot by Ron Heinen.

A close up shot of the nebari and exfoliating trunk:

One parting shot looking up into the tree. Branches have decent movement and taper for how this type of tree grows. Imagine with the next 15 years will bring…

Some late spring cleaning

A little late is better than never. Ideally, needle pulling is a late fall to winter activity. On JBP that grow slower (corkers), or are weak (recently repotted, underpotted, constantly candle-cut for ramification and small needles), it is ok to wait longer to pull needles.

The reason why is that green needles contribute to photosynthesis and therefore, the longer they remain on the tree, the stronger that tree can get.

So here are a few examples of early May needle-pulling.

First up is this corkbark JBP, ‘Taihei’, which is a slow-growing tree that I do not decandle. I repotted it last year, and wired it, so I waited until now to pull needles. I will prune, wire and pull more needles this fall.

Top done
Primary branch before
Primary branch after

Next is also a corkbark JBP, ‘Hachi Gen’ on its own roots. It is under potted, and needed to be repotted last year, but i didn’t get to it until this year. I also don’t decandle this one,

The carnage! Probably half of the needles removed, leaving just about 5 pairs on each shoot.

After. Much more even, definitely needs to be detail wired in the fall.

Finally, this JBP has been kept in “show-shape” for four years now, and finally was shown in the USNBE last fall. I repotted it this spring, and just pulled a few old needles to tidy up the undersides of the pads. Our annual Alabama Bonsai Society show resumes next weekend and I thought the tree still looked good enough to show.

Moss added
Ready to go!