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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mid-America Bonsai Show 2014, Part 5. Some Other Fine Trees.

     As best I can estimate, there are over 150 bonsai in the Exhibit at the Mid-America Show every year. Here are a few more pictures of this year's, with owner/artist names if I have them.

Willow-leaf fig, Ficus salicaria.
This is by far the largest willow-leaf fig composition that I've seen outside of the stock of a Florida-based vendor! What's potentially even more impressive is that it was entered in the Novice class: if the owner has done most of the work himself/herself, there's a major new talent on the scene.

It's not finished yet; look up into the inside of the canopy and you'll see there's more work yet to do. But it's quite presentable. Give it another 5-10 years and it just might take Best-of-Show!

Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris. Mark Fields.
The picture doesn't show it too well, but there are several twists in the middle trunk that add visual interest. The character of the pot is unconventional but quite a good match to the tree. And the accent plant's look contributes to the presentation's overall impression of wildness. (Picture a remote and craggy hillside in the Scottish Highlands.)

Mountain hemlock, Tsuga mertensiana.

The small foliage of the hemlocks (Tsuga) makes them good candidates for bunjin (a.k.a. literati.) This artist, whoever he or she is, has made good use of that fact. I especially enjoy the dogleg in the trunk!

Veldt fig, Ficus burtt-davyi; willow-leaf fig, F. salicaria; suiseki. Scott Yelich.
This 3-point display by Scott Yelich is just plain good. Notice the balance among the three elements. I think the choice of pot color for the main tree helps make the whole presentation exceptional.

Hornbeam, Carpinus spp. Chicago Botanic Garden (I think.)
Here's a tree with individuality!  It might be a little difficult to assign this bonsai to a traditional style, but doesn't it look like so many trees you've seen in the landscape? This tree succeeds at something fundamental - reflecting the image of a full-sized tree - and it does so very well.

Ponderosa pine, Pinus ponderosa; Spruce, Picea spp. (accent.) Andy Smith.
Andy indulged his whimsical streak a bit in this composition. It's hard to see in the picture, but at the base of the ponderosa is a figurine of a dog; and in front of it, set flush with the moss, is a small stone with a hollow like a basin. The basin was filled with water, and presto! - an alpine meadow in miniature!

Elm, Ulmus spp. Possibly Mark Fields.
The handsomely mottled bark is what draws my eye most to this tree; and the pot's color and lack of elaboration both serve to highlight that bark. Notice, too, the taper and the ramification.

Juniper, Juniperus spp. Jim Doyle.
Jim Doyle, of Nature's Way Nursery, lost his wife Mary Kay to cancer at the beginning of June. I don't recall ever meeting the lady, but from all I've read, I don't think she would have wanted Jim to miss the Mid-America. This was Jim's tribute to her: a tasteful, well-composed, and artistically excellent presentation, with a picture of Mary Kay on the miniature easel in the center. Enough said by me, other than "Rest in peace, Mary Kay."

As always, I spent a bit of time admiring some of the trees in the Chicago Botanical Garden's own collection.

Narrowleaf firethorn, Pyracantha angustifolia. Donated by Jack Thompson. 
Here's another very good example of a bonsai that is balanced without being symmetrical. On top of that, I'm impressed by the technical skill it took to develop that root system.

Ponderosa pine, Pinus ponderosa. Donated by the Midwest Bonsai Society.
Aside from the fact that I am partial to ponderosa pines, this is one heckuva well-styled and impressive specimen. I have no idea how old it is, but several hundred years wouldn't surprise me. This is another one that I visited more than once.

'Boulevard' falsecypress, Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard.' I couldn't make out the donor's name in my picture.
For those like forest plantings, this is a pretty good one.

And finally, when you walk out the main doors of the Regenstein Center in late afternoon, this is what you may see. (But be aware that my picture, pleased as I am with it, still doesn't do the reality justice!)

From the bottom of the steps in front of the main entrance to the Regenstein Center.

:-)  :-)  :-)


  1. An impressive collection of trees. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You're welcome! After 20+ years of going, I still usually run into at least one or two ideas that I hadn't known before were possible.