The Columbus Bonsai Society will hold its 50th annual show on September 24-25

Bonsai is an art form from ancient Asian culture, originating in China and developed by the Japanese. In the 13th century, the Japanese collected and potted wild trees that had been eclipsed by nature. These naturally formed miniature trees were among the first bonsai trees.

A bonsai is literally a “tree in a pot”, which is a miniature imitation of an old tree in nature. Old specimens of dwarf trees in nature, unlike juvenile trees, have compact rounded tops and horizontal or drooping branches, giving these specimens an aged and graceful appearance. There are three bonsai sizes, ranging from less than 5 inches to around 30 inches tall.

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The Columbus Bonsai Show

This graceful blend of art and horticulture will be on display at the Columbus Bonsai Society’s 50th Annual Bonsai Show scheduled for September 24-25 at the Dawes Arboretum near Newark. The Bonsai Show will feature exhibits of dozens of these tiny horticultural treasures, workshops led by prominent bonsai artists from across the United States, vendors of bonsai plants and supplies, and activities for youth and adults. Details of the show, including a schedule of events, can be found at: https://columbusbonsai.org/2022-cbs-show/#Overview

Plants suitable for bonsai

Several species of trees and shrubs are suitable for traditional bonsai. Specialty nurseries often have a wide selection of dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties of many species. Dwarf plants, however, don’t always look exactly like their full-sized counterparts, as their growth habits are quite different. Some trees and shrubs that work well as bonsai are azalea, beech, boxwood, ginkgo, maple, oak, pine, wisteria, and zelkova.

A full list of specific varieties of different tree and shrub species that are suitable for bonsai can be found here: go.osu.edu/bonsaiplantguide.

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bonsai styles

Bonsai trees can be categorized into 10 basic styles, the most common of which are: formal upright, informal upright, inclined, cascade and semi-cascade. These classifications are based on the general shape of the tree or shrub and the inclination of the trunk relative to an imaginary vertical axis.

Formal amount: This style is considered easy for the beginning bonsai grower. This style features a straight trunk and a lower branch that is lower and extends further from the trunk than the opposite branch.

A variety of bonsai styles and species will be on display at the Columbus Bonsai Show.

Informal standing: This style may be the best choice for beginners because creating this type teaches the most about bonsai design. The trunk is straight, but curved rather than straight, usually forming a zigzag pyramidal shape. The main branches are found at the angles where the trunk bends and the top is aligned with the base of the trunk, regardless of directional changes in the trunk. The alignment of the base of the trunk and the apex makes the tree asymmetrically balanced.

Oblique: This style features a trunk with a single sharper angle than in the informal vertical style. The lowest branch extends in a direction opposite to that in which the tree leans.

Cascade: This style of bonsai represents a natural tree that grows along an embankment. A cascading planting usually looks best in a deep round or hexagonal container.

Semi-cascade: This style has a curved trunk that does not reach the bottom of the container as in the waterfall style. Prostrate junipers and flowering plants adapt well to cascade and semi-cascade styles.

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If you are going to

The Dawes Arboretum is a large garden estate just a short drive from downtown Columbus. The grounds contain a variety of natural settings for visitors to enjoy, including a Japanese garden, a topiary garden, and natural Ohio forests. Miles of walking trails through the arboretum offer visitors the opportunity to appreciate many rare species and cultivars of trees.

The Bonsai Show will be located near the visitor center at the main entrance to the arboretum. Bonsai exhibits, raffles, vendors and workshops/demonstrations will be hosted near the visitor center.

Admission to the Bonsai Show is included in the Arboretum admission price of $10 or $5 for children. Dawes Arboretum is located at 7770 Jackson Road, Newark.

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