The Badger Bonsai Society (BBS) was formed in 1972 for the purpose of promoting and enjoying the ancient art of bonsai. Meetings are at 6:30 on the second Thursday of every month at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, except for January and July when the club has special dinner meetings.
Why is bonsai media different from other potting media?
Can I use regular potting mix for my bonsai?
What is the best thing to add to increase drainage in a bonsai mix?
Do I need to screen my bonsai mix? Why?
These are just a few questions that we as bonsai artists ask about bonsai soil. The truth is no one can say they understand everything that goes on within the media of a growing bonsai tree. There is an incredibly complex web of biological, chemical, and physical interactions all at play simultaneously. We as artists and horticulturalists strive to exert our control over these processes, but when all is said and done we are at the mercy of the soil and we keep our fingers crossed.
I have been looking at these questions and more to try and provide logical and scientifically grounded answers that I hope will demystify the vague concept of bonsai soil. Many books have been written on the art and horticulture of bonsai, but all that I have seen fall short in explaining the “whys” involved with choosing the right mix for a tree; so I’m writing it myself.
Bonsai soil will be the focus at our March meeting. Before you repot anything this year, bring your questions and an open mind. We’ll be digging deep into a shallow pot.
One of the great attributes of boxwood is that it develops interesting bark after only a few years. I was reminded of this when I was gathering some shohin -sized plants for the Garden Expo. These pictures are of a Kingsville boxwood, and this particular plant is perhaps five years old, and started from a cutting. It has a girth slightly larger than a pencil, but already possesses a gnarly bark texture.
Thanks to everyone who helped out!
The new year is off to a good start for the Badger Bonsai Society! On Thursday, January 9 we held our annual dinner meeting at the Imperial Garden restaurant. About 25 members, spouses, children, and guests were present – a good turnout. Thank you to Mary Ellestad for making the arrangements with the restaurant, and to Ron Fortman, who not only brought all the door prizes, but wrapped them as well!
Outgoing president Matthew Gerdts was recognized for all his dedicated work in leading the society for the last two years. Matthew is the only president wehave ever had with a degree in horticulture. It will be a tough act to follow! Devon Cournoyer is also retiring as newsletter editor, although he will be taking care of the club website. In place of our regular newsletter we will now run a ‘blog’ overseen by Orion. As this is a new endeavor for the society, we need to know what is working and what needs to be fixed. So don’t be shy; your opinion is important.
The club officers have been busy putting together a calendar of activities for the year. I have read all of your suggestions for club programs, and will try to incorporate as many of these ideas into our activities as possible. This is what has been formulated so far:
Feb 7-9 Wisconsin Garden Expo – Alliant Center
The club will have a booth to promote membership. While this has not been as successful in the past as we had hoped, this year the club will give away a free, small bonsai with paid club membership. This has been given the OK by the Expo people. The Expo is providing free admission tickets to our members who are manning the booth (although there is still a cost for parking). I will distribute these passes to those members who signed up to work when I receive them. I will be doing a demo on Friday at 3:30.
Feb 13 meeting: Double Feature. Tim O’Rourke will be talking about literati style bonsai. This will be a prelude to a literati workshop in April. Secondly, Ron Fortman will be showing pictures of this trip to Tiger Hill, China and Singapore where some amazing bonsai, suiseki, and gardens were on display.
March 13 meeting: Matthew Gerdts will speak about bonsai soil. We will also have soil for sale.
April19 – Saturday workshop at Olbrich Creating a forest bonsai