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The purpose of a Study Group is to create quality bonsai with the goal that they can be displayed in the club's shows, at the Del Mar Fair and beyond. The push is on to create higher quality bonsai in the U.S. The SDBC has worked very hard at the Safari Park, Bonsai Pavilion, to greatly improve the trees. We have now started to make very good changes in the bonsai display at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. Study Groups are another tool for us to utilize to improve our bonsai and deepen the pool of talent within the club.
The format of a study group is a more intimate, more focused, yet relaxed atmosphere than our usual general meeting. This allows for more one-on-one instruction and open discussion of ideas among the members. This will increase the quality of the work needed to create a quality bonsai.
Meetings will primarily be on the third Sunday of the month. There are months when we will meet on a different day. The first meeting was at Charlie Mosse's house on March 15 from 1-5 pm. We worked out many of the details for the remainder of the year.
Our next meeting will be the second Sunday of the month on April 12th after the general meeting from about 12:30 to 2 pm. The group will select and prepare trees for the upcoming Spring Show. Group members will bring in trees they would like to show and the group will select the trees and stands that will be in the show based on shohin display requirements.
Shohin's range in size from 4 to about 8 inches. There are smaller bonsai called mame which are 3-4 inches and mini-size bonsai are less than 3 inches. Even though there is less plant to work on, these smaller bonsai sizes can be more demanding in some respects because there are fewer branches and leaves with which to work, so their placement becomes more critical. Watering is also more challenging since the pots can be quite small and shallow thus drying quite quickly. Keep an eye on them especially when windy and/or when there is low humidity.
April 13, 2015
The April meeting was well attended. Most everyone was signed up and dues paid. We discussed details about how to operate the group, upcoming meetings and basic goals. Nuff sed ther.
The basics of shohin display were shown by Shirley and Fred. We were a fwe trees short of a really good display but the general rules were understood. A few websites were emailed to the group>
Morten Albek has a very good book called Majesty in Miniature, Shohin Bonsai.
These sites show some very good to outstanding shohin. Do not be overwhelmed by the top trees. These take time and money to develop to the level where it is displayed on the world stage. If that is your goal, go for it. For right now we are starting at the beginning and intermediate level and will go from there. A very good goal for most of us will be to create a shohin that can be displayed at local, regional and statewide shows or simply displayed at home with a sense of accomplishment.
Looking at the trees on the webs sites of shows and clubs, one notices that it is not just a small tree in a pot but a small tree which shows age and character in a small pot. To do this, the size of the pot gets much smaller in the relation to the tree than one sees in larger bonsai. So one of the challenges of shohin, especially smaller shohin, mame and mini-bonsai, is the small to tiny root systems one needs to culture to grow a beautiful shohin. Not to fear, there are simple ways to do this.
Most of the basic rules of bonsai apply but are trickier to follow due to the small size of the trees. There is so much less with which to work that branch placement, trunk angle, even the number o leaves come into play. Whereas in a larger bonsai a branch will fill in a spot, in shohin that same visual spot will be filled in with a tiny branch and many times just a leaf or two or three.
Growing shohin follows the same rules as larger bonsai except that watering and feeding are so much more critical and need more attention to detail. Just just be sure to keep an eye on the moisture level especially on the small trees and mame. They can dry very quickly once the top of the soil begins to dry. With the extra watering required, feeding is done more often due to the leaching of nutrients. Many people water shohin by submersion. Be absolutely sure the pot drains properly and completely if watering this way. Shohin growing techniques will be covered in time.
A basic display is one where all of the elements of the display are balanced, seasonal, and in proportion. Large stands, small stands, individual stands, small tables and wood slabs are used to display shohin. It could be explained here, but you will find great information on the above sites and the links found at those sites.
Shohin Study Group
SDBC member Charlie Mosse lets you know of interesting bonsai posts from around the web but especially shohin topics as he is leading the shohin group.