Trip to Rotary and Anderson Gardens


Just a reminder that this Saturday we are going to Anderson and rotary gardens. If you have an Olbrich membership remember to bring your membership card. Without this card there is an admission fee at both gardens. I plan on going regardless of the weather, so plan accordingly. I can accommodate 5 more people in my vehicle. If we have more than this, another person will also need to drive.


June 28: Trip to Rotary Gardens in Janesville, and Anderson Garden in Rockford. We will leave Dutch Mill Park and Ride on Madison’s SE side at 8:00 a.m. Spend about 1.5 hours at Rotary Gardens from 9-10:30. Then about another 1.5 hours at Anderson, from 11-12:30. We’ll find a Japanese restaurant, and then head back to Madison. I plan to be back at the Park and Ride by 3:30 p.m. If you are an Olbrich member, entrance to the gardens is free. If not, Rotary charges $5 and Anderson $8. I encourage you to secure an Olbrich membership. It offers reciprocal entries into many, many gardens throughout the US. As Ron Fortmann pointed out in May, the Chicago show in August is free. The catch is it’s $20 to park (maybe for Chicago folks this seems reasonable, but to us cheeseheads it’s outrageous). HOWEVER, with an Olbrich membership parking is free.

Margaret Elmore and the creation of fairy gardens


In case you missed it, the Wisconsin State Journal on Wednesday May 28 ran a very nice article about member Margaret Elmore and the creation of fairy gardens. Margaret works at America’s Best Flowers in Cottage Grove and is giving three workshops on the creation of fairy gardens – one at America’s Best on June 21, and two at Olbrich on June 19 and July 12. While not strictly bonsai, the objects, plant selection, pruning, etc have much in common. For more information contact either Olbrich, or America’s Best at 222-2269.

2014 Bonsai Exhibit


Wow! What a show! Excellent trees and displays, good attendance, great demonstrations – what more could there be? Thanks to everyone for making this a great success – and there are a lot of people to thank! Orion Kiesch for creating this years promotional flier; Gary Landerud for supervising the set-up and clean-up crews and storing all the back drops and table coverings; Mary Ellestad for the newspaper publicity; Orion and Gary for the professional quality photography on Sunday (The pics will be on the website soon) ; thanks to all four demonstrators, who all did great demos – Devon, Matthew, Tim, and Ron; Set-up crew Gary, Gene and Linda, Derek, John, Tim, Mary, Orion, Brian and Diana; clean-up crew Gary, Gene and Linda, Matthew, Mary, Orion, Ron, John and Annie, Devon, Elaine, Tim; tree sitters and door greeters Orion, Brian, Mary, Elaine, Gene and Linda, Ron, Matthew, John and Annie, Devon, Tim, Gary, and Ralph. And, most importantly, to everyone that brought trees to show, for without the trees we wouldn’t have a show: Orion, Mary, Derek, Brian, Ron, Matthew, Annie, John, Gene and Linda, Devon, and Tim.

Brian won Best of Show for his striking schefflera. It was outstanding! Other top vote recipients were Gene’s shimpaku, Ron’s lilac, Ron’s Hornbeam, Devon’s shimpaku, Mary’s lilac, and Brian’s other schefflera. Matthew’s trees were all perfect, but what especially struck me was the excellent nebari they all had. And as can be attested to by those members at the entrance table, many, many people left without casting a ballot because they “were all so fantastic I couldn’t decide”.

Our show is probably the highlight of the year for the Society. So, to everyone that participated, a major “thank you” and a “job well done”; it was awesome.

If anyone has suggestions or ideas on how to improve things for next year, jot them down, or let me know.

If I have inadvertently left anyone off this thank-you list, my sincere apologies. Ill make corrections in the next post.

Pictures of the show will be posted here this weekend, sorry for the delay…


Next meeting

June 12
Monthly Meeting- lecture ‘Collecting bonsai’
Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Annual Nursery Crawl


2757099597_189757ab00_zThis Saturday, May 3, we are having our annual nursery crawl. We will begin at 9 am at Jung’s on Northport Drive. See Devon’s email fromMarch 22 for a map and a complete itinerary. Feel free to join or leave the crawl as your schedule permits.

General membership meeting: Thursday, May 8 – the second Thursday comes early this month. This meeting will be devoted to a BYO workshop. So bring something to work on, your tools, wire, plastic to cover your work area, and a pot (or two). The club will provide a bucket of soil. There are also a few leftover larch and black pine that will be available.

6851328329_605bf2b399_bAnnual show, May 17-18 – start planning what trees you intend to show. We all want our trees to be perfect and we should strive towards that objective. However, keep in mind the public will be thrilled with even your worst tree. It is also instructive to show what can be achieved in a short time. So, if you have something recently styled and created, don’t hesitate to show it. It helps dispel the notion that bonsai HAVE to be old. We will need volunteers to set up, guard the trees, sign-up new members, tear down, etc. etc. Mary will have sign up sheets at the May 8meeting. We also need four people willing to demonstrate.

Hope to see you Saturday!

April 10 Badger Bonsai Society Meeting


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur April meeting will be a workshop creating a literati bonsai utilizing Japanese Black Pine. We have secured 25 trees for this event. The cost of the trees is $4. (This is one of the benefits of club membership – the ability to buy in quantity and pass on the savings to our members.) We also have ten 10” mica pots at a cost of $16 each. These are drum style pots that are about two or three inches deep. One of the great unknowns in ordering trees mail-order is the unknown size of the root mass. However, if I were to guess, these probably wont be able to be potted immediately into the shallow drum pots.  Therefore, if you are doing the workshop it would be prudent to bring a deeper pot that would accommodate a deeper root system. I think a pot depth of 6-8 inches would be OK. As the tree will not remain in that pot forever, any pot will suffice, even terra cotta flower pots.  We ask that you purchase the drum pot so the club is not holding excess inventory.

The club will provide soil, wire, and raffia. You provide your tools, pot screen, and pot.

img_6980Those members who heard Tim O’Rourke speak about literati style at the February meeting already know this, but for those who missed his discussion, here is a short synopsis: Literati bonsai have very little foliage, most – if not all – confined to the top of the tree. Unlike most other styles where trunk taper is important, literati bonsai frequently have a uniform trunk diameter for most of the height. This is what makes seedlings appropriate material to use. Visual interest is created by a twisty trunk. To create these twists and turns, we will wrap the trunk with wet raffia. The raffia acts like an ace-bandage and keeps the cambium from separating from the deeper wood when the trunk is bent. After the application of the raffia, the trunk is wired. Because pine is quite flexible, you will be able to introduce some major bends into the trunk. Remember that the copper wire is to be on the outside of any bend.  There are two reasons for this. First the copper acts like a splint and keeps the wood from splitting (this is especially true if you have not used any raffia). Secondly, it is the stretching of the copper that allows the bend to hold.

Literati bonsai are always in symmetrical pots – round, square, octagonal, hexagonal, etc. so avoid ovals and rectangles. And conifers should be in unglazed pots.  The mica pots should be perfect – if not immediately, then in a year or two.


carissagratomOne of the problems for people newly interested in bonsai (and some old-timers as well) is a reluctance to cut and prune. There is a fear of cutting the wrong branch. I don’t think the literati workshop will use the entire meeting time. I have a number of Carissa cuttings that are now several years old, as well as some Kingsville boxwoods. These have not been styled or pruned in any way. I have merely allowed them to grow. I want to give these away at our May show to anyone who joins the club. I will bring these in and I want club members to style these. If they turn out beautiful – wonderful.  If they turn out ugly – well, that’s OK too. You will have learned something in the process.