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The Art of the Bonsai showcased at the Morton Arboretum

Bonsai in bloom  | M. Jane Cooper
Bonsai in bloom | M. Jane Cooper

The millennium-old art of bonsai is coming to The Morton Arboretum this weekend. Discover these imaginative miniatures for yourself as members of the Prairie State Bonsai Society show off their masterpieces and demonstrate the award-winning techniques.

The Art of Bonsai show is free with Arboretum admission and open to the public, Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. 

During the show, see more than 60 bonsai specimens, ranging in age from a decade to more than a century, then vote for your favorite in the best in show competition. Bonsai and bonsai supplies will be available for purchase. At 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., get professional tips on creating and nurturing bonsai as society members display their skills in live demonstrations. 

“Bonsai is the perfect antidote from our high tech, high stress world,” explained Dan Kosta, publicity chair of the Prairie State Bonsai Society. “It offers a chance to get away and retreat to a natural world in our trees without ever having to travel great distances or even leave home. Working on a bonsai brings about a sense of calm and peacefulness.”

Once a predominantly Chinese and Japanese art form, bonsai can now be found around the world. Contrary to common believe, bonsai are not created with genetically dwarfed plants but are naturally occurring plants that growers keep small through careful training and pruning. Bonsai are designed to showcase the inherent beauty of the trees and create a sense of nature in miniature, the natural world captured within a single pot.

Want to dig deeper? Enroll in a bonsai workshop Saturday, September 21 or Sunday, September 22. To register, visit mortonarb.org/education or call 630-719-2468.

Cotoneaster Dammeri Workshop
Are you interested in bonsai but not sure where to begin? Cotoneasters are fast growing and achieve bonsai style quickly. They produce beautiful white flowers followed by red berries and possess a striking purple fall color. Join us Saturday, Sept. 21 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Cost is $65 for Arboretum members, $70 for nonmembers including admission.

Jaboticaba Workshop
This tropical bonsai with bronze foliage and tan and brown exfoliating bark is fast growing and suitable for growing indoors by a window sill or under lights. Beginners to advanced bonsai enthusiasts will enjoy growing this unique plant. Join us Saturday, Sept. 21 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Cost is $50 for Arboetum members, $60 for nonmembers including admission.

Kamagata Japanese Maple Workshop
Join local Bonsai Master Ivan Watters, curator of the Chicago Botanic Garden's bonsai collection, in this specimen workshop. This Japanese maple has excellent branch placement and tolerates both heat and cold. It is a dwarf cultivar that can be made into a shohin. Join us Saturday, Sept. 21 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Cost is $195 for Arboetum members, $210 for nonmembers including admission.

Ficus Philippinensis – Children's Workshop
Children ages 8 to 14 can try their hand at bonsai with this popular houseplant that is easy to grow. Children will bring home their tree upon completion of the workshop. Join us Sunday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $35 for Arboetum members, $40 for nonmembers including admission.

Japanese Yew Workshop
An often forgotten but excellent material for bonsai, this tree is easy to grow, is tolerant of both semi-shade and sun, and has durable hardwood that is good for deadwood effects. Join us Sunday, Sept. 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Cost is $75 for Arboetum members, $85 for nonmembers including admission.

Collected Literati Pine Workshop
Guest instructor Jim Doyle leads a hands-on workshop using material he personally collected eight years ago for bonsai. Both Ponderosa and Pitch Pines will be available. Pitch Pine is a fast growing, excellent specimen tree that can become the centerpiece of any collection. Ponderosa Pine is an ideal material for bonsai culture because of its flexible branches and growth habits. Join us Sunday, Sept. 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. Cost is $225 for Arboretum members, $235 for nonmembers including admission.

 

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