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  • Writer's pictureTom Lau

Frank Yee the Keeper of Cork Bark Jade

Frank Yee is probably known as the Gate Keeper of Cork Bark Jade. Jade succulents or Elephant Food succulent or Portulacaria afra ‘Cork Bark’. Portulacaria afra "Cork Bark" has all the qualities of a good bonsai. Rough bark, good branch structures, good leave structure, able to live in a shallow pot, drought resistant and easy maintenance.

A video archive can be located at the Baikoen Bonsai Club Facebook Page:

This photo above is a 2-3 year old cutting of a cork bark jade plant. The barking up of the plant does occur with age but with also intense light and lean watering program.

Frank is a local artist and can be found at local clubs as in Santa Anita Bonsai Society or as a vendor at all local conventions or bigger bonsai events in Southern California.

He actually had two acts for the night. One was this 25 year old cork bark jade as a nice bonsai specimen. Without a photo this tree had some nice movement in the main trunk line. Frank said he made those without wire but using the cut and grow method.

Frank actually plows thru the demonstration with some quick fire jokes and statements that just flew over some people's head. But this corny jokes keep the night lively and the room filled with energy. But, he explains that there is nothing special you need to do with cork bark jade. Cut what you do not like and keep what you do. The tree will eventually produce new shoots and leaves everywhere on the tree as backbudding happens on its own. The only caveat he did say if you make major cuts on the trunk do not cut to the exact spot, as this species tense too die back to the closest segment on that plant.

Frank really had some conversation about the origin of this plant with him using DDT in the early 60's.

The second act by Frank was a forest using just cork bark jade. This was interest subject as the first act went by like with a blink of an eye. Frank actually had 17 trees lined up for this demonstration and it was impressive to see how other artists setup a forest.

He started with the largest and tall tree he had. He placed that tree not in the center but at 1/3 into the pot. As this type of jade does not need much soil or roots to reestablish itself.

Frank subsequently adds in smaller and thinner trees in as the composition starts to form.

Frank said that the space of the composition of a forest is important. You should be able to see each tree as an individual in the all directions but most importantly from the front and sides. Here is Frank using a turn table to view the composition is view-able from all sides.

As the forest composition forms you noticed that there is a flow in size and height from that number one tree.

Frank finishes the forest composition and turns it around to show the audience.

The night ended with a club raffle and here are some club members examining their loot of the night.

The big winner of the night was Victor Shelton winning the single trunk cork bark jade Frank styled at the beginning of the night. Until the next post!

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