• We are GROing just fine
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The BGLM has begun its GRO (Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO) project. Our first effort was a test of the upgraded water system in our primary reserve area near the Workshop. You can see by the photo that we have installed overhead misters to water these trees in what some refer to as our Bonsai Intensive Care misters-in-reserve-08-16Ward. This is an area where we have always provided watering from both surface and overhead systems. The combination of overhead water sprayers and surface water sprayers and drippers wasted a large amount of water and saturated the trees but it helped the trees regain health from too much sun exposure. We replaced the old style drip bubblers with the more efficient misters and eliminated the surface water system altogether.

We worked with an irrigation expert, McGregor Bullard, to test out various options for watering systems and found the plastic misters to be the best for our purposes and the most water efficient. The old irrigation bubblers were rated at 25 GPH (gallons per hour) and the new misters are rated at just 3 GPH. Even with a much-reduced volume of water output, the misters are providing sufficient water for our bonsai without the need for surface watering. Some trees with dense foliage may require some horizontal misting in addition to the overhead watering. We will know more as we continue to test our new watering system.

The next phase is to setup a system of misters in our remote reserve area where we store trees in preparation for our Mammoth Auction & Sale on February 18-19, 2017. We like to gather the auction items early in the fall and prepare them for the Auction. We find that the longer we care for them the better we can prepare them to be at their best for their Big Day. If you are interested in providing some bonsai for the Auction, be assured that they will receive the care they deserve.

Check out the information about the Mammoth Auction & Sale on our website at https://bonsailakemerritt.com/?page_id=1350. We have moved the dates a week earlier to avoid conflicting with a race around Lake Merritt, which has taken up all of our parking spaces in past years. This change will also separate the Mammoth from the Bonsai-a-Thon. We are hoping that this will enable more vendors to participate in each event.

Once we have finalized the design for the new bonsai display bench tops that are being created by Jay van Arsdale, leader of a local joinery carpentry group
, we will begin their construction and be ready to add the new water system to the display garden. The current display stand tops
are made of wood and trex building material, and, as you can see in the accompanying photos by George Haas, are decaying after years of use combined with some faulty construction concepts. So far, we have considered replacing them with wood, concrete and stone. We are continuing to investigate various ma
terials and will do some further testing to find the right balance of appearance, functionality and longevity.

Once the display stands are constructed we will erect copper tubing behind them that will carry water to the misters above each tree. By having the misters above the tree, we are free to turn trees and even replace them without having to adjust the water system for the stand. We also feel the misters will provide beneficial overhead watering that will provide a better distribution of water to the base of the bonsai and will cool and clean the leaves in a way that had not been possible under the current system.

We are also investigating new pathway paving options with Alexis Millar of the David Thorne Landscape Architect firm who is helping us with all phases of the design of the GRO project at no cost. The current pathway of discomposed granite promotes dust in the summertime and mud in the winter and will not work well with our overhead misters. Once it is completed, we will have a newly reconditioned Bonsai Garden that will live on for the next 15+ years.

Now for the question of “How are we going to pay for all of this revitalization?” We have applied for several large grants that, if awarded, will provide some of the funds we need to complete this project. In addition, the GSBF has approved some funds  at the fall Board of Directors meeting at the Sacramento Convention. For those individuals and clubs wishing to contribute funds to help match our grant funds, we will create a brass plaque and post it on our Wall of Appreciation. In the meantime, we are selling BGLM logo items, including t-shirts and sweatshirts, at events like the Convention and our Mammoth Fundraiser. For more information on the categories, please visit the website Giving page, https://bonsailakemerritt.com/?page_id=19.

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