Outdoors Recreation

The North Carolina Arboretum’s Carolina Bonsai Expo

Bonsai in fall

By Natasha Anderson

Discover the power of tiny trees at The North Carolina Arboretum’s 22nd annual Carolina Bonsai Expo on Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, October 15, in the Arboretum’s Baker Exhibit Center and Education Center. The nationally known event features juried exhibits by bonsai enthusiasts from a seven-state region, including five clubs from North Carolina. Arboretum members and visitors will have the opportunity to participate in bonsai workshops, watch free demonstrations, attend an ikebana exhibit hosted by the Asheville Chapter of Ikebana International and purchase bonsai plants and supplies.

“A curious thing about bonsai is that most people seem to know a little something about it, but often what they know is not fully accurate,” says the Arboretum’s bonsai curator Arthur Joura. “When people begin to look into it a little more closely, they are typically surprised at the depth bonsai has.”

This year’s featured artist at the Expo is world-renowned bonsai expert Jack Sustic. Sustic recently retired from a 14-year stint as the museum curator of the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. He has received training from bonsai masters in both the US and Japan, and, in 2005, one of Sustic’s trees was selected as an international winner in the World Bonsai Friendship Federation (WBFF) photo contest. Sustic currently serves as the international consultant to WBFF, is vice-president of the North American Bonsai Federation and is a board member of the National Bonsai Foundation. He will give an illustrated lecture and live bonsai demonstration from 1–5 p.m. on Saturday, October 14. Other programs for both the bonsai community and the general public include a free ikebana demonstration from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday and a two-part bonsai demonstration from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1–2 p.m. on Sunday.

“There are people who do bonsai for 20 or 30 years and they will tell you they are still learning, that they haven’t yet reached a point where they’ve exhausted the subject,” says Joura. “People who come to the Carolina Bonsai Expo will get a glimpse of a world that is not only miniature, but has more substance to it than they might have imagined.”

Arboretum visitors can enjoy a tropical bonsai display from early November through early spring in the Baker Exhibit Center Greenhouse. The Arboretum’s temperate bonsai plants will be stored until the full collection is returned to the outdoor garden on World Bonsai Day in May.

The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, in Asheville. Some of the Carolina Bonsai Expo events, including the lecture and demonstration by Jack Sustic, require pre-registration and fees. For a full list of program offerings and times, please visit ncarboretum.org. Admission to the Expo is free; standard parking fees for non-members still apply.

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