Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai

Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Club

Category: Demonstration


The Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai and
Yamato Bonsai Kai invite you to their
joint Bonsai Show!

Location: Lakeside Park Garden Center,
666 Bellevue Ave., Lake Merritt,
Oakland, California

May 18, 2024: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
May 19, 2024: 10:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Featuring Azalea bonsai in full color and fine
bonsai in formal displays!

Large member tree sales and
imported Japanese material.
Vendor Area
Free admission
Public parking available
Demonstrations by clubs –
BASA Demo: May 18: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Darren Wong working on Satsuki Azalea bonsai.
Yamato Demo: May 19: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

BASA and Yamato Bonsai club will both have
members sales along with bonsai vendors.

  • Soh-Ju-En Satsuki Bonsai
  • Jerry Braswell
  • Dave Chimpky
  • Janelly’s Bonsai
  • Mikal Edwards

Exposed Root Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

On February 27, 2020, Darren Wong demonstrated for members of the Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai a technique for creating exposed root Satsuki azalea bonsai. The materials used for the demo included: Satsuki azalea cuttings, one four inch plastic nursery container, a plastic empty beverage bottle, small size Japanese Kanuma, medium size Japanese Kanuma, Japanese mountain moss (Yamagoke – Dried Japanese Mountain Moss for Surface Root Protection). Tools included: scissors, chopstick, #2 aluminum wire, wire cutters.

Step one was to cut the top off the plastic empty beverage bottle and make several large holes in the bottom of the container. It is best to have a plastic bottle that is narrower at the top and wider at the bottom. This is so the roots will grow within the container and be wider at the bottom than the top. Otherwise, the roots would grow evenly or worst in a reverse taper.

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Step two, fill the four inch nursery container with medium size Kanuma about half way up. The roots will grow through the bottom holes in the beverage container in to the Kanuma.

Step three, attach the aluminum wire to the bottom of the beverage container. Then insert the beverage container into the four inch nursery container and wrap the wire around the nursery container in order to secure them together.

Step four, prepare the Satsuki azalea cutting by removing all potting soil and bare rooting the plant. Trim some of the foliage, if needed. Do not trim any of the roots.

Step five was to insert the Satsuki azalea cutting roots into the top of the beverage container. Then fill the beverage container with medium Kanuma about ¾ of the way up. Top off the beverage container with small Kanuma. Now fill the remaining portion of the four inch nursery container with the medium Kanuma. Use a chopstick to remove any air pockets in the Kanuma.

Step six was to place the Japanese mountain moss on top of the small Kanuma layer at the top of the beverage container to protect the root surface.

Finally, water thoroughly.

Repotting Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

On February 27, 2020, club president Bob Gould led the discussion on repotting Satsuki azalea bonsai. Bob brought to the monthly meeting of the Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai a number of Satsuki azaleas that were donated to the GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. These were neglected plants in various containers with potting soil. The task at hand was to eliminate the potting soil and repot the plants in 100% Kanuma bonsai aggregate.

The immediate undertaking was to eliminate the potting soil and bare root the azalea plants. The potting soil had broken down and causing problems for the plants. The use of chopsticks to pick away at the potting soil was found to be most useful for this task. Once the potting soil was removed, then the plants could be wired in to containers on hand and filled with 100% Kanuma (a preferred bonsai aggregate for Sutsuki azaleas).

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Japanese Kanuma is the perfect soil for acid loving plants. The most common plant to utilize Kanuma for bonsai is azaleas. Azaleas along with Camellias, Gardenias and other acid loving bonsai can be potting into pure Kanuma. Kanuma is a very light volcanic rock.

The evening produced a number of repotted Satsuki azalea bonsai. Time will tell whether or not these plants will be developed in to bonsai.

Meeting/Demonstration February 22, 2018 – Tool Maintenance

Gordon Deeg presented a program on tool maintenance at the last BASA meeting that was informative and comprehensive. This subject is rarely discussed, and his approach was lively and entertaining. He made what is a dry and technical subject both accessible and memorable.

Gordon brought along a series of stones and tools that make sharpening and maintaining tools an easier task, and emphasized the point that sharp, clean, well maintained tools are absolutely required to be able to do the work we need to do on our bonsai plants with a minimum of damage and exposure to disease, poor healing and scarring, The stones, he said, can be types that are lubricated with oil, water or diamond-impregnated surfaces that do not require lubrication. The coarse ones must be used first when the cutting edges are damaged or have been allowed to get very dull, followed by finer, then very fine ones. He noted that the grit value of a sharpening stone or surface is expressed in numbers that go from low, which are coarser, to high, which are finer, to very high, which are essentially grits used for polishing and refining a cutting surface so that the edge you work to create can last much longer and require less sharpening in the future. This means not less frequent sharpening, but less effort and time for the sharpening that should be done very frequently. A coarse grit would be rated at 600-800, used for re-establishing or correcting a damaged edge; a sharpening surface is rated at 1100 to 1600; a refining and polishing surface is rated at 1800-2200 for the tools commonly used in bonsai.

Gordon noted that many, maybe most bonsai professionals maintain their tools by quickly sharpening before each day’s use. In this way the tools always work well and last much longer. They become an advantage that saves time and effort. Once a good edge has been established, maintaining the blade becomes a matter of a few strokes on a fine or very fine surface, which only takes a minute or so.

The diamond surfaces were of special interest because they can be shaped to fit the cutting surface, so there are spindle shapes and graduated wave forms to fit any curved, hooked, or odd-shaped cutting surface. It was noted that the company, American Bonsai has two sizes of graduated funnel-shaped diamond sharpeners that are very useful for curved cutters.

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The process of sharpening causes microscopic metal filings to accumulate on the sharpener’s surface, reducing its effectiveness, dulling it, so to speak. It is this that the water or oil is for, because it floats most of the filings above the surface of the sharpener so they can be brushed or wiped away, which should be done frequently, even on dry sharpeners like diamond. Gordon even had a stone to grind across the sharpening stones, to renew the surface and flatten them out, because the act of sharpening tends to wear the middle parts of the stones and warp the surface.

There was more information given about how to use a hammer to correct the hinge point of a tool that binds or has become too loose, how to correct a tool whose blades don’t quite meet any more, and other small wonders of tool wizardry. Now I think he should present this vital and informative program every year. If he gives it again, be sure not to miss it.

–Chris Ross

Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai – Annual Spring Show