It's sunny and warm as I write this for you just now...our 'March' into spring was more like a soggy slog, punctuated by a couple of rounds of wet snow thrown in for fun. I've got a love/hate relationship with spring. I just love the awakening of our trees and flowers yet hate that everything decides to go all at once.
It would be some trick if we could graft an on/off switch to our trees wouldn't it? Since we can't, I'd like to share a few things that can help during these harried days of spring. This may seem very basic, but one thing I find helps is if I watch my watering carefully and don't go into full-on summer mode right away. And by that I mean going through and watering daily without looking to see if the soil is drying out between waterings. Some trees move faster than others, so keep an eye on those. Watch the buds to see what they're doing and let the late budders dry out just a bit more.
You might find moving your trees to a different spot (sunnier, shadier) can help you control how fast they move in the spring. With spring also comes decision time about what needs re-potting and what might just have to wait another year. I've learned it's possible to let some of my deciduous trees bud out and it's still safe to re-pot them; just be careful with the aftercare and keep semi-shaded until it shows signs of strong growth. And if you just can't get to them all as planned (who doesn't have this problem?) write it down as a reminder for next year what you weren't able to do and how you can correct it in the next growing season. I hope this is helpful to those who are feeling a bit whelmed over by this demanding season...did I mention taxes?
On to our April program! Michael Hagedorn will join us for an interactive evening about bonsai display. Bring your 'thinking caps' and prepare to learn what to do once you have that little gem of a tree to the level of refinement needed for showing it off. One of the tasks of Michael's apprenticeship under Shinji Suzuki in Japan was to set up a bonsai display for Suzuki's client's and the general public visiting the museum.
This duty was rotated between all the apprentices so it wasn't every day but quite regular. What an awesome 'extra' benefit from an apprenticeship; one never knows what to expect from the stories of those lucky few who can make it to Japan for study. And how lucky we are that there is a growing number of them choosing to settle in the Portland area and share their knowledge with us. So steal away and join us for a valuable learning experience. It's just in time, by the way, as our annual show at the Japanese Garden will follow in May. I hope you are considering that special tree to share with the public. Be sure to get in touch with Scott Elser by e-mail with what you have in mind so he can better plan the exhibit. Our spring show is on a par with the best bonsai exhibits in the U.S., thanks to Scott and his exposure to Boon Manakativipart's shows in Oakland, CA. And the many members of the club who donate their stands and bring their own expertise to help with the set-up. Speaking of which, we can always use help with the show so if you've never had experience showing there's no better way to start. Contact Scott about this too. Mark your calendar for May 19th and 20th. Tickets for the critique event will be on sale for $10 at our upcoming meeting. I don't want to forget to mention Oregon Shohin Kai's shohin exhibit during our April meeting. It will be set up toward the back of the meeting hall for you to enjoy during the evening.
And a last word about the May meeting/program which will feature Sean Smith; the date is Thursday, May 10th and will replace our regular meeting date of the fourth Tuesday. Same time, same place just a different date. Sean will present an excellent program on bonsai and suiseki and their relationship together. There will be a workshop the following day, May 11th about making Daiza, the sometimes ornate little wood stands that sit underneath viewing stones. Please see Jan Hettick if you haven't already about availability for participation. I think that covers it! If not, I'm sure the rest of our contributors to this newsletter will fill in the gaps. I'll see you at the meeting, if not sooner!