Choosing trees for a one year exhibit

It’s been fun to start planning for next year’s Pacific Bonsai Expo. Setting the date, selecting the space, and figuring out how everything will work have been the main focus so far. Now it’s time to start thinking about the trees!

It is up to the jurors, Bjorn Bjorholm, Ryan Neil, and William N. Valavanis, to decide which trees will be displayed in the juried exhibition. It is our responsibility as potential exhibitors to provide the jurors with the best trees to choose from.

I’ve had it in the back of my mind for a while that I should start thinking about which trees to submit. Now that the event is a year away, it’s time to start putting together a list of candidates for submission.

This week, I walked through the garden with a clipboard in hand, making a list of all the trees that I thought would be suitable for the exhibit. The list was extensive – twenty trees!

Pine, azalea, and Japanese maple

Are you ready for the show? Azalea, pine, and Japanese maple

Following that, I took a closer look at the chosen trees to see which might be ready for the show the following year. Many of these trees require extensive wiring, but I prefer to show trees that have as little wire as possible. I marked as eight trees as possible and will see if I can wire them before the deadline.

Pine branches in need of wiring

Pine branches in desperate need of wiring

There are a few trees that might be suitable for an exhibition, but not necessarily in the fall. Wisteria, millettia, and ume are among them. I may submit these trees because it would be interesting to see these species represented, but they will look much better when they begin to bloom in the winter or spring. Before making a decision on these trees, I’ll wait to see how the other candidates look.

Wisteria in fall

Wisteria in autumnal hues

There are two large deciduous trees and seven small or medium-sized trees remaining. I intend to prepare both of the large trees for submission. The first is a Japanese maple, and the second is European beech. Because neither has a lot of fall color, I’d show them without the leaves.

Japanese maple with poor fall color

Japanese maple with poor fall color

When it comes to the small and medium-sized trees, I need to figure out the best way to mix and match them. It is customary to pair a medium-sized bonsai (trees up to 18′′ tall) with a smaller tree, preferably one with a different foliage type. In a future post, I’ll go into greater detail about this process.

Now that I know which trees to prepare ahead of the submission period (February through April 2022), I can focus my efforts on finding pots for the trees that require higher-quality containers.

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