The Midwest Bonsai Society held their 40th annual exhibit on August 18-20, 2017 at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL. Having attended, exhibited and selling all 40 of the exhibits (except for two when our home burned down seven years ago) I can say the quality of the trees is improving, especially with the professional category in my opinion. There are many more companion plantings displayed with the bonsai and this year there are many more suiseki on display.
Best of Show: Twisted trunk pomegranate by Dr. Gary Andes
First Prize in the professional division: Kahima Japanese maple by Wm. N. Valavanis
Second Prize in the professional division: Japanese black pine by Mark Fields
Kathy Shaner from California spent considerable time, all day on Friday, judging the bonsai and making comments for improvements for the exhibitors.
The many parking lots were full on Saturday, but crowds visiting the bonsai exhibit and vendors did not seem as large as in the past. There were several events going on at the same time throughout the large botanic garden. Admission is free for the bonsai exhibit, however the Chicago Botanic Gardens charges $30 per car for parking. Larger vehicles must pay higher parking fees.
As usual the Chicago Botanic displayed several of their bonsai in two courtyards on unusual display tables with backgrounds and lighting. Curator Chris Baker is doing an excellent job maintaining and improving their large collection.
I also brought my Dwarf Brush Cherry bonsai which I displayed 40 years ago. The companion planting created in my last blog was next to the bonsai. The Chicago Botanic Garden made a nice sign to commemorate the event.
Workshops and demonstrations were also being conducted during the three day exhibit. Participating in this exhibit is one of the highlights for my year seeing long time bonsai friends and family but sadly denotes that summer is nearly over.