Faces of Joys and Fascinations I Saw in Bonsai Shows

Most clubs hold bonsai show once or twice a year. Typically the shows are formal with bonsai on stands, some accompanied by kusamono or scrolls against backdrops, some even have judging and awards for best trees.

For the last few years our club has held informal shows at the Houston Japanese Garden in conjunction with the Japanese Festival, and most recently at a local shopping mall. The number of visitors are phenomenal. We brought 1,300 copies of our club brochures to these two shows, and they were all gone. We estimated at least two thousand people saw our shows, and we also recruited several new members! Such an exposure of bonsai art to a wide audience is not easy to achieve in a formal show.

To me, the most gratifying reward participating in these informal shows is to see the joys these little trees brought to our visitors, many of them saw bonsai for the first time; their reactions, from curiosities to fascinations, the questions and amount of photos they took, made all the volunteering efforts worthwhile. Here are some of the heart warming photos from this year’s shows:

Spring Show at the Japanese Garden

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Beautiful sunny spring day and the Japanese Festival brought a lot of visitors to the Japanese Garden.

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“Are these special kind of trees?”, “How old is the tree?”, “What kind of tree is it?”  These were frequent questions asked by visitors. We like questions, it meant we had piqued their interests.

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Pete Parker explaining how he worked on a Yaupon bonsai. An interested visitor picked up our club brochure. We brought 800 copies to the spring show and they were gone by the next afternoon.

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A demo by Soon Cheah,  Best Kusamono winner of the 2016 US National Bonsai Show. A lot of visitors were fascinated by these cute little plants, and drew comments like: “These are weeds…I have a lot of them in my garden”, “I didn’t know weeds could be so beautiful…”

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Who knows these two little girls might get into bonsai in the future from this encounter?

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A senior couple closely examined the root-over-rock Melon Seed Ficus to convince themselves there was indeed a rock beneath those roots.

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Flowering bonsai like this bougainvillea always draw oohs and aahs. Glad to see these happy faces.

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No doubt they really liked this small Japanese Black Pine.

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Mmm.. This does look like a big banyan tree.

Fall Show at the Memorial City Mall: Continue reading