Bonsai Society Show and Garden update

Last fall, the NC Arboretum hosted a gathering of fifteen Bonsai Societies in a marvelous exhibition of this ancient art.  Entries for judging came primarily from associations in North Carolina, along with Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. The bonsai trees ranged from the amazingly tiny to huge. I took almost 100 photographs of these interesting displays, and chose a few of the most interesting ones to show today.  If you didn’t already know, bonsai is pronounced “bone-sigh”, not “bahn-sigh” like I used to think before seeing the permanent exhibit at the Arboretum just a couple of years ago.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

Bonsai has many artistic rules governing the aesthetics including asymmetry, miniaturization, and proportion.  Here, a Kingsville Boxwood has been trained into a pleasing shape with some extra natural elements in the container to create a scene.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

A Dwarf Hinoki Cypress miniature tree sits on a wonderful stand suggesting tree branches.  The straight style with the trunk growing straight up is called chokkan, with larger branches at the bottom and smaller ones at the top.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

Natural materials such as driftwood are sometimes used as a base for the bonsai.  Moss is used to suggest ground.  This container seems to simulate a rocky cliff.  It is suggestive of the cascade style of bonsai called kengai.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

This interesting bonsai has the asymmetry so typical, along with the unusual element of roots exposed in the air.  The Colorado Spruce has the small needles needed for proportion.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

This one was a bit of a departure from the rules as the leaves are larger than what is usual proportion for bonsai, and the persimmon fruit is also larger than usual.  But the lovely color of the fruit draws the eye.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

Another bonsai using weathered wood as the base.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

This Chinese Elm seems so simple, but look closer.  All the branches extend from the top side of the trunk, with a progression of length to create the triangle shape of the canopy in the formal upright style.  The container is also really interesting, with moss covering the roots.  The trunk style with a visible curve is called moyogi.  This would also fit into another category of bonsai, called bunjin-gi, of a long bare trunk with foliage on the top.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

Another example of the triangle shape, the roots have been slightly exposed to show the forms.  The slant style called shakan is what most of us think of as the bonsai form.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

Several small Chinese Elms form a forest in this larger entry.  Tiny ferns adorn the forest floor, and the forest sits on a large rock.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

A Trident Maple gives the impression of a large mature tree shading a rock, but this entry was less than 12 inches tall.   This is a good example of the idea of bonsai, to evoke the feeling of viewing a much larger tree at a distance.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

On the other side, this one was over 4 feet tall, also unusual for bonsai.  The shape is interesting, and the exposed roots add to the overall artistic quality.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

This display was also huge with multiple bonsai on a large piece of what might have been volcanic rock.  The forms and textures were amazing, and it changed as you walked around it.  The aesthetic quality of the piece was beautiful from every view point, another unusual aspect as bonsai is typically viewed from only one side.  One of the portrayals of bonsai is the struggle to survive, called sharimiki, where some of the roots are bare and some of the bark removed, incorporated here.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

One last multiple bonsai exhibit had Korean Hornbeam and Cedar of Lebanon with small shrub and moss adorning a driftwood and rock base.

Carolina Bonsai Expo at From My Carolina Home

The NC Arboretum has a permanent exhibit of bonsai as well.  These need to be outside as much as possible as the constriction of the root systems in small containers makes them difficult to grow indoors.  They need conditions close to growing in their natural environment for temperature, direct sunlight and humidity.   Most bonsai are begun with small seedlings that can be trained and pruned, wired to assume a particular shape, and kept miniature size.  Maybe one day I’ll try this, but for now, I’ll be happy admiring the results of other gardener’s patience.

Meanwhile, back home in my garden, little bulb leaves are peeking out all over! I think these are hyacinths. I planted so many bulbs I am having a hard time remembering which I put where.

February in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Crocus bulbs are waking up too.

February in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I think these are daffodils.

February in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

One of the hyacinths was put in a bulb vase to force inside. It bloomed in my favorite white, a small bloom but very fragrant.

February in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A warm day, and rain on the way made a gorgeous sunset.

February in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The turkeys are back, a group of seven – one male and six females – visiting regularly to scrounge a bit of bread.

February in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

On this day, I noticed this beautiful fox watching the turkeys in the meadow. I tried to get a photo of them together, but as soon as I stepped on the verandah, the turkeys ran towards me. He sat regally, allowed his picture to be taken, then turned and loped into the forest.

February in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

What is going on in your garden? Are you visiting your local arboretum?

February in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

24 thoughts on “Bonsai Society Show and Garden update

  1. The shapes are spectacular~!!~ I was stunned by the Princess Persimmons, bearing so much fruit. Your regal fox is delightful. I think your sunset photo would make a great landscape quilt….maybe a mini …..

  2. lynn

    Thanks for such an interesting post. Here in Nova Scotia, we are not close yet to seeing bulbs poking out of the soil, but in my mind ,as I sat reading your post, I could smell the spring soil, and see those first green leaves poking up to the sunshine. This morning mother nature is providing large soft snowflakes falling straight to earth covering and bare patches in our yard. Your photographs of the bonsai trees are beautiful, and educational. I learned quite a bit from reading and looking. Your efforts are appreciated

  3. Shirley

    How very interesting and informative. The Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan has a live butterfly exhibit every spring. You can walk among the butterflies as they flutter among the tropical plants. We had fresh snow last night, but the temperature should be in the high 50s this week! Hope Mr. Fox leaves the turkeys alone.

  4. Pat Evans

    I bought one or two bonsai at craft sales many years ago, but didn’t have any luck. I’ve seen the permanent exhibit at the National Arboretum and have attended several shows. It’s amazing to see how old some of the specimens are. Truly an art form.
    I’m in FL right now, so I don’t know the status of my bulbs. Given the up and down temps and snow this winter, I’m sure they are poking up, but it will be months before they bloom.

  5. Wonderful pictures all around Carole, but especially those emerging shoots…yes I am ready for spring! We have another storm coming in today, but I hope this will be the last if the single digits and below zero temps. We’re due for a big dump this spring, but those always melt off quickly. I just want the winter cold to be done!

  6. What a beautiful selection of bonsai.
    Any signs of spring buds are this morning covered by five or six inches of new fallen snow here in Massachusetts. Not to worry, it may be 70 by Wednesday. . . life in New England.

  7. kathyinozarks

    I enjoyed seeing your photos of the bonsai-and many do not realize it takes years and years to accomplish these they always intrigued me
    Happy Sunday

  8. Those bonsai are so intersting. Much attention is paid to the pot and the stands, as well! I have some hyacinth and daffodils just starting to come up, and I saw a red fox yesterday, too! It was near this pond where I was birding.

  9. Lynne Stucke

    We go to the National Arboretum frequently. Their bonsai exhibit is amazing (come see me, and I’ll take you there!), and their azalea display will take your breath away. Won’t be long now, and they will be in bloom.

  10. These tiny trees are exquisite! They look like full size, giant trees that have been shrunk by some sort of 1950’s cartoon ray gun. ( Ooops….a little showing of my age there…lol). Thank you for correcting my lifetime mispronunciation of “bonsai”. I’ve always been fascinated by these little beauties.

  11. The bonsai trees are beautiful..we saw lots like the big multi plantings that you could walk around in Cambodia last year, some sat on a big rock in a pool of water. We walked down one street where there were bonsai plants all along the street in all kind of different pots..very interesting to see. Lovley to see your bulbs coming thru, spring is on the way. Would the fox chase the turkeys?

  12. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole; You have fascinated me with all of your lovely photos and information on the Bonsai Trees. How marvelous that you and so many others have had the opportunity to experience such a beautiful artistic form. I was surely thinking at the start, oh I should get one of these, by the end I have changed my mind and will leave this art form to the individuals who love it. LOL. Thank you for sharing the Bonsai Trees. How wonderful that some turkeys are back to visit. I am assuming that Bert and Ernie were not among them? The Red Fox is so beautiful and he did pose graciously for you! Our wildlife visitors are very different this Winter it seems. No idea why but for instance we have not had one deer in our yard. We usually have at least 2 mama’s and her babies, plus a dozen or so that just pass through on their way across to the water pond on the other side of the road. However we have had two raccoons and 1 possum visiting our porch area. Well, I had best get busy doing quite a few chores and then some more quilting. Thank you for sharing and have a fantastic day!

  13. Rosemaryflower

    I enjoyed reading this Carole. I love the photos.
    I have seen green growth in my garden, coming up, and also at the edge of the ponds in daddy’s neighborhood.
    We had some snow yesterday and last night, so we discovered several different animal tracks this morning: fox, bunny, and deer
    time just flies! It is almost Spring

  14. The Bonsai display looks amazing. Definitely not a skill I have mastered. Some of the display stands had lovely work in them too.
    If Spring is creeping in for you at means we are close to having our leaves turn for Autumn.
    No turkeys here!

  15. sharon schipper

    Beautiful. And of course winter has finally hit, at least for this week. 6 inches of soft powdery stuff all day yesterday, not over 14 deg. 1 deg this morning! and icy roads. Supposed to be cold all day, up to just about 20 and some flurries tonight maybe. I HATE driving in it but we had late opening, so it was light and drivers all seemed to be respectful and careful! I wanted to plant my clematis this week or next, maybe not! Love seeing the crocus, they are such optimists… and the snowdrops I know are coming up in your part of the country…

  16. Robin RK

    My husband tried to create bonsai but it required more time and expriece than he had. We still admire them at shows. Maybe when he retires??? Thank you for sharing you pictures. They were very good.

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