Sunday, June 16, 2019

ACBS Summer Exhibit At Akron's Stan Hywett Botanical Gardens

ACBS has partnered with the beautiful and historic Stan Hywett Hall and Garden this summer to be part of their "Art in the Garden" series of events.  The hall is famous its botanical gardens as well as its architecture.

Our club will have a month long display of tropical bonsai in the beautiful and spacious conservatory on the grounds from June 15th to July 14th. For the event the Stan Hywet greenhouse director Joe Mihalik created special stands of varying height from the trunk of a large spruce tree.  The stands are arranged in three and five tree groups, and display the trees against the neutral sky background of the greenhouse glass.  In addition the Gardens graphics department added signs with information and facts about the art of bonsai that were placed with each tree.

Because of the heat that can build in a summer greenhouse, only tropical bonsai were part of this
extended exhibit. Several tropical varieties are present, including several varieties of ficus, Brazilian rain tree, and Jaboticaba. Many trees in the exhibit are paired with miniature "mame" companion bonsai.  In addition to the tropical bonsai,  the club will exhibit a small number of pines and other winter-hardy species on two weekends when ACBS members will be present to talk with visitors and  some demonstrate the process of creating a bonsai from raw nursery stock.  Club members will be at the Stan Hywett conservatory on Saturday June 22 and Sunday June 23 from 10:00 to 4:00,  and also on Saturday July 13th and Sunday July 14 from 10:00 to 4:00pm.

We invite all of our internet friends and members of the bonsai community to visit our exhibition.
 Watch a short video tour of the exhibit on our youtube channel at this link.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

ACBS Mini Show at Rohr's Nursery

It is always surprising how many interested people show up to talk about bonsai. This first full weekend in June was no exception as word got around that ACBS was displaying some of its and demonstration how bonsai can be created from ordinary nursery stock.
The nursery hosted the mini show in its neat out door gathering area, sort of a garden within the garden, where the club set up and did a little tree work. Emmett carved up a couple of 5 gallon size boxwoods to show how the process begins.  Members talked with visitors about such things as how to pick out a good candidate for bonsai from stock material, what species are good first time attempts and general care questions.
So relaxing--working on a tree with friends on a terrific June afternoon. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Azalea, Five year Progression

Azaleas picked up while on a run, 2014
by Michael Rusnak

One of my favorite things about the art of bonsai is how you can create something out of nothing. A tree headed for the shredder or landfill, can get a whole new life as a bonsai.

Even better is the process.  Although it may take five to ten years to become a presentable tree, it gives you a lot to cheer about along the way. Let me show you how many cheers this clump of azaleas has given me.

Clump as picked up, 2014

I was out for a run one spring morning in 2014. I spotted this over grown, bug damaged azalea clump.  It had been dug out by a neighbor and left on the curb for the trash.  There were some interesting shapes along its base, and when I picked it up, it broke into two main pieces.  So I brought them home to see if I could get them to live in a pot.  Both sections pulled apart into several plants.  Unfortunately, the largest one which had a trunk nearly as thick as my wrist and was full of ripples and movement had a lot of damage where it was removed, and did not survive.

Now three tree grove in 2016
The other sections survived. One was a clumped together and formed a sort of three tree grove.  Two other small sections survived.

Something to cheer about, 2016
Over that summer, and the following summer of 2015, the trees began to get back their strength.  In the spring of 2016, now only two years after being toss out for the trash, being potted up, cut back and responding, all three must have been happy and tossed out some blossoms from its sparse foliage, which can be seen in the photos.

May 2018
This variety of azalea, whatever it is,  has an unusual flower.  They almost look like roses when they come out. But already I think the fun of developing a piece of trash into a bonsai is obvious with these plants.

In order to achieve proportion and also ramification in the branching, they need cut back each season.  I let them grow wild all summer, and because I like the blossomes so much, I've waited to prune them.  In any case, the process of letting it grow out and then cutting back the next season seems to be working for them.
Azalea grove, May 2019
Small azaleas May 2019
It will take more seasons, but I think they are getting better and better. And we will see how they improve a few more years down the line.
But in any case, during this long process, they give you bunches of things to cheer about. That is what makes bonsai such a great art. 
Check out a 360 of the azalea on our youtube channel at this link.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Hedge Maple Dig-- Raw Material for Bonsai

What a great opportunity.  No bonsai guy could resist.

The building where our club meets is being remodeled, and a maple hedge needed to be removed. Instead of being shredded, they were donated to our bonsai club, and now begin new lives as bonsai.

This was an exciting project for our club.These trees, estimated to be 30-40 years old, are outstanding raw material for bonsai.

 Each club member got a tree. Many could be split into two or three trees. Many had fantastic shapes. They should have brilliant yellow fall colors. Even as they were being dug, it was tempting to start studying them for design and how they will eventually take shape as bonsai.

Assuming they survive in pots, these trees are about five year projects. It is hoped that in the future our club will present an exhibit of these maples.

The excavator operator saved us a lot of work, and dug the trees neatly to preserve as much of the roots as possible. The operator dug 30 trees in under 90 minutes. He ran like clockwork.

We had them bundled up and ready to pot up in the afternoon.   Take a look at this video on our YouTube channel that shows some

 Now just look at those trunks and their fantastical shapes. They look like something out of a fairy tale.

Can't wait to see them develop. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Randy Brings Buckeyes to ACBS

Randy's seed grown Buckeyes
by Michael Rusnak
At the ACBS May meeting our own Randy Pepper brought in a group of young buckeye trees that that he had raised over the past couple of seasons from collected seeds. 

Randy gave the buckeyes to members who were willing to give them a try. 

Several of the umbrella shaped three year seedlings
He discussed some of the experiments he has done with them, observing, for example how they respond to pruning along the trunk.  A few started look like cool and exotic literati projects.  

Though not a traditional subject for bonsai, the tall lanky growth pattern of Ohio's signature native tree might lend itself to the literati style at some point. It will be fun to see what people come up with and maybe have an Ohio Buckeye or two in one of our future exhibits.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The President's Challenge: Create a Literati Pine from Seedling

Literati from seedling
ACBS's president Mike Rusnak often says that much of the fun in bonsai is in the process, the process of making something out of almost nothing, or more specifically, developing a bonsai over time from simple nursery sock or from discarded material. 

This year Mike passed out two Scotch pine seedlings to each member and issued a challenge.  Members are to work with the seedlings and over the next few/ five  seasons develop a literati bonsai.

At this point each member should have taken home their seedlings, potted them, get them healthy and made growing, and perhaps make some preliminary cuts or wiring to get it on its way.

Developing a pine bonsai is a rewarding project. Typically, it will take about five years to start looking presentable.  We will check in with how they are doing at one of our monthly meeting each year.  We'll also learn more together, and in the end members will have developed their own cool literati.  Imagine having a table of member-created literati pines at one of our future club exhibits. How cool would that be????

Check out what Ken did with the left over scraggly one Mike gave him at the April meeting.