Preparing for the annual exhibition

One of the top priorities of the year, is preparing for the annual exhibition in Denmark. Preparing bonsai starts much earlier than the two weeks ahead before the exhibition opens. Cleaning pots and making small adjustments can be done right before the exhibition. Adjusting mosses too. But everything else needs careful planning weeks or months before.

Long time planning

Already during winter I start the thought process about what to bring. How will the weather behave during spring? This being a late spring exhibition brings some challenges. Conifers will not be influenced much by the spring weather, that might jump from cold, to warm, and back to chilly periods ongoing. Deciduous and especially flowering trees, can be heavily influenced by the unpredictable weather we are always experiencing around this region.

Deutzia gracilis.

Shohin bonsai display is absolutely a challenge to time right during this period of the growing season. Shohin displays are focused on the seasonal changes, and trees needs to be right there when displayed. Flowers ideally are showing both young and mature stages. Leafs on Japanese maples shows mature and new leaves at the same time (ideally), to make this speciel sense of spring growth. Will the flowering trees loose their flowers from the first growth, or is it the new flowers on the summer flowering trees I can use? Sudden weather changes can change this in a short time.

The main tree

Months ago I prepared some of the trees, including my European Yew, Taxus baccata. My favourite main tree at the moment.

European Yew, Taxus baccata.

It needed some rearrangements of branches, which I did in late autumn. Six months later it is time to remove some wires, and make final adjustments. During winter the bark was brushed and cleaned. Jin and Shari (deadwood) painted with lime sulfur, both for preservation and to add this delicate contrast between deadwood and live wood. Adding age and a bit of drama. This has to be done ahead for more reasons. Both because it needs to settle and not look too fresh, and because time is limited during spring; having to do all the repotting and spring work taking a lot of time and doesn’t leave much time for anything else.


Before this ends, I am already thinking ahead for the winter shows. The preparation begins now, because timing and development have to be focused on getting the trees looking their best at that time. Avoiding making big changes that won’t be fulfilled and  ready to show within the season. Working on developing finer branch structures and details instead.

That’s why it is necessary to have a good amount of small Shohin trees at hand. Some trees being in development or redesign stage. Other focused on exhibition quality at the show I want to enter.

I hope I will time it right and enter one or two nice displays for the Dansk Bonsai Selskab exhibition May 25. – 26. It takes place in Aalborg at the cultural center Nordkraft.


Please leave a comment