Spring is my favorite season of the year. Emerging colorful new growth and spring flowers of deciduous bonsai delight my senses and prepare me for another fresh new growing season. Also, since I HATE winter, deciduous species and maples with early growth signal the end of the long cold season.
Sometimes, no often, bonsai with emerging new foliage must be protected from cold spells to avoid damage and death. We get fooled a lot of the time too. I live in Rochester, New York, near Buffalo and only 90 minutes to Niagara Falls, Canada. Snow has fallen in Rochester EVERY month of the year. Fortunately, I have not experienced snow during the months of June, July and August, but have during the others. Last Sunday we had snow and two days later the temperature soared to 84F. The 15 day weather forecast does not include any colder than 34F, so hopefully all the bonsai will not need to be protected again. They have traveled from the garage to the driveway many, many times this spring. And, many are large and heavy so they are on carts, which make it easier to move around.
Also, many of the maple bonsai I plan to photograph must be protected from the rain (and snow) so the bark is dry and looks at its best. Once 15 years ago I had to cancel a professional photo shoot because it rained and the tree bark was dark and wet. The photographer could not understand why we needed to postpone the shoot a week.
In addition to enjoying the spring beauty of deciduous bonsai, it’s also my busiest season because developed maple bonsai must be bud pinched at the exact time for each section of the tree.
Senior Assistant Alan Adair bud pinching Oto Hime Japanese maple bonsai.
Plus, there is quite a bit of transplanting, pruning, shaping and also creating new bonsai, hopefully to become masterpiece bonsai when I’m gone. All the bonsai, pre-bonsai and nursery stock must also be taken back outdoors from their winter protection in unheated and heated poly houses and the garage. That’s a lot of work, in addition to teaching five bonsai classes a week, plus publishing International BONSAI.
Alcove display changed daily for classes, workshops, friends and visitors.
I’m blessed to have many dedicated, talented and knowledgeable friends assisting me in whatever needs to be accomplished. I could not do what I do without them, and McDonalds sweet tea of course.
Joe Letner bud pinching maple bonsai. His wife, Jean, is also skilled with this technique.
Here are some photos taken during the past few weeks of my maple bonsai and spring garden. Enjoy the spring season, because it will not last long.