Bonsai tree: Weekly Wire: The End of Lime Sulfur?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bonsai tree: Weekly Wire: The End of Lime Sulfur?

This Trident maple root-over-rock belongs to Jonas Dupuich. It’s from a Bonsai Tonight article about the 11th Bay Island Bonsai Exhibit. The Bay Island Bonsai 13th Annual Bonsai Exhibit is coming very soon (Jan 13-14). Judging by photos from previous exhibits, it looks like it’s one of the better bonsai shows in North America. It’s at the Oakland Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave. For more information:  (510) 919-5042 or visit their website.

Bad news about lime sulfur. It’s hard to imagine bonsai without lime sulfur. But it looks like that’s exactly what we’ll have to do. At least those of us who live in States. Rather than trying to explain what’s happened, I’ll leave it to the expert, Colin Lewis, our favorite lime sulfur source (and author of Bonsai Survival Manual, among other things): “To get straight to the point: Lime sulfur is now totally banned in 46 states.  Of the remaining four states, two only permit the use of lime sulfur under special license and the other two are currently processing a total ban….” (scroll down for the whole story).

I’ve always had a soft spot for Columbus, Ohio. I won’t bore you with my reasons, but I will suggest that you visit the Columbus Bonsai Society’s excellent website, and if you ever find yourself anywhere in the vicinity, why not get in touch?  However, I must admit that I was just slightly miffed to see that they didn’t feature any Stone Lantern books in their quite extensive book review section. I still recommend that you check their book reviews out, but I might also most humbly recommend that they expand their reviews to include some of these: Masters’ Series Pine Book, Masters’ Series Juniper Book, The Magician, Kimura 2, Shohin Bonsai, Bonsai from the Wild, Satsuki Azaleas & Bonsai Today Pocket Gallery.

Congrats! The Phoenix Bonsai Society is celebrating their 50th birthday. That’s impressive. What’s even more impressive is their website. It’s one of the most informative bonsai sites anywhere, and I’m not just saying that because they gave me a $100 kickback (just kidding, it really is a uniquely rich source for valuable bonsai information). Check it out for yourself.

Tyler Sherrod, bonsai apprentice. I don’t know if I’ve already recommend you visit Tyler’s blog, but just in case I haven’t…

Wire versus Wire. We’ve been fielding lots of questions lately about the difference between our Bonsai Aesthetics Wire and our Japanese wire. Basically, the Japanese wire is a little stiffer and therefor a little stronger. Which means the Bonsai Aesthetics wire is a little softer and therefor a little easier to apply. Because the Aesthetics wire is so affordable and the difference in holding power isn’t that great, I believe that the Bonsai Aesthetics wire is a better deal. This takes nothing away from the Japanese wire, which, given our large discounts, is also a very good deal.

An eccentric and compelling bonsai. There’s so much going here, that I won’t bother to say anything. Except that it’s a Premna and it’s from Taiwan Bonsai World.

More Mario. We just featured a bonsai of Mario Komsta the other day and now here’s another of Mario’s trees you might like. If memory serves (occasionally it does), it’s from a sequence on an ever shortening jin. I lost the link but imagine you can find it if you want.

The John Naka Award. The American Bonsai Society in fellowship and remembrance of our American Grand Master is pleased to announce that the 2012 John Y. Naka award program is now open and accepting entries from across the North American continent. For more, visit the ABS website.

John Naka Sketchbook. While we’re discussing John Naka, you can purchase the John Naka’s Sketchbook at Stone Lantern (offered in partnership with the National Bonsai Foundation).

We don’t usually do stones here, but there’s a long bonsai/suiseki tradition, so why not? It belongs to Junius Guiang.

Bad new about lime sulpur by Colin Lewis

To get straight to the point: Lime sulfur is now totally banned in 46 states.  Of the remaining four states, two only permit the use of lime sulfur under special license and the other two are currently processing a total ban.   According the State of Maine the primary consideration is the potential effect of residual lime sulfur on ground water, not because of the risk to users.  (Oregon State University, the major researcher into such things, describes it as having “low mammalian toxicity”.)

Until recently, the penalties for ignoring the bans in the prohibiting states were imposed on the user.  However, now the penalties – and not insignificant penalties – are imposed on suppliers who ship lime sulfur (calcium polysulfide) to prohibiting states.  Some nurseries will still have residual stocks, but that will not last long.  Some importers will continue to acquire lime sulfur from Japan, but as soon as the first one falls foul of the law the others will cease.

The upshot is that lime sulfur will soon no longer be legally available to bonsai growers.

Before you jump to conclusions: No, this is not a cynical attempt to sell you my own brand of lime sulfur before the year end.  The truth is that I only have a third of a bottle left for my own use and I can’t get any more!

Although I’m not normally prone to self-mutilation, I am, as I write, viciously biting my lip in order to avoid a rant which could easily become far too heated for this newsletter!   But then, I imagine most of you feel much the same….

Source: Bonsai Bark


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