Alabama Bonsai Society’s 2023 Spring Show, Part 1

Alabama Bonsai Society hosted its annual Spring Show on May 20-21, 2023 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Our club has an active and experienced membership and everyone does a great job contributing to a fantastic show. This year was no exception. The show featured over 80 trees in 78 displays, along with an ikebana display, suiseki, and workshops with Bonsai Master and show Judge Kathy Shaner.

This year’s Best in Show was awarded to a beautiful Japanese White Pine, which was grown from a young starter plant in 1965. Now, nearly 36” tall and wide, it has matured into a graceful tree.

Additional evergreen winners include some special masterpieces:

Deciduous winners:

Flowering winners

Shohin display winner

More to come…


Preparing a Shohin Display for the ABS show

As busy as life has been, pulling together a few displays for the weekend’s annual Alabama Bonsai Society Spring Show has been tricky. I have maybe 10 decent shohin trees that can make a respectable display. Several are smaller and a couple had a rough winter, so my choices were a bit limited this year. Below is the first cut at the tree arrangement itself.

No cleaning, trimming, or top-dressing yet, just checking for fit and movement.

See anything troubling? Too many rectangle pots, and 3 are unglazed.

The Japanese maple is a bit overgrown for its spot, and it’s hard to see in these photos, but the persimmon is full of shiny aluminum wire.

I think the stand under the Itoigawa is undersized, but it is the best I have and will have to do.

Finally, the accent plant is a bit weak. I like the pot (Ron H) but the Erodium is a bit beat up.

I wanted to swap out the pot for the olive tree to add some variety of shape at least. These were options, but unfortunately only one would work, and even it was a tight squeeze.
I would have preferred an oval, so I oriented the feet in the corners to at least approximate an oval. Still needs a little trimming.

Next up is the Top-of-the-box tree: a cutting-grown corkbark JBP ‘Hachi-Gen’ from Evergreen Gardenworks, which is around 25 years old now. The pot is a Syuzan.

Trident maple, Ikkou pot. This is a fat little trunk, with a base nearly 4” wide. The chop scar in the back is very slowly healing. The leftward movement is a good anchor point for thr lower-right part of the display, directing the eye back into the display.

I unwired and trimmed the persimmon. While it isn’t in perfect showing condition, it does serve the purpose for the position in the display..

Next up, light trimming of the Japanese maple clump, along with a diluted coat of lime-sulfur on the base to lighten it and accentuate the mass. While small, some of the trees are developing nicely striped bark sections.

Finally, the Itoigawa pads were tidied up, trunk scrubbed, and deadwood got a fresh coat of lime sulfur. I was also able to reduce the mounded-up soil on the left side, caused by changing the planting angle last year. I really dig this Suishoen pot, the red clay compliments the bright foliage, and the dimensions are a little deeper than normally found on a pot this size. Really nice proportions, and for a steal at $100.

And so here is the end result…for now. I hope to rework the accent plant just a little to freshen it up.

Partial defoliation of an ‘Arakawa’ JM

This tree is becoming dense, and to avoid inner branch weakening, this is the time of year to trim long shoots and one of every pair of leaves. Here is the starting point., can’t even see the trunk now!

After shortening long shoots and removing one of each pair of leaves.

The upper portion was pruned a bit heavier to allow sunlight to reach the interior areas.

Below, against a better background.

And a couple close ups of the nicely-developing bark…