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Milwaukie Center hosts 'bonsai forest' exhibit, marketplace, demos Sept. 14

Unlike other art forms, such as painting or drawing, "bonsai is living art; a bonsai tree is never finished," said Keith Wingfield, publicity coordinator for the Bonsai Society of Portland.

"It is perfect for only a brief period, and then it grows and changes, and you must look for the next level of advancement for its beauty. So it's a hobby that you can pursue the entire year and for a lifetime," he said.

"Bonsai is the art of creating the image of old, majestic, mature trees in small-scale form and allows us to reaffirm our relationship to nature and its beauty, even in our urban environments," Wingfield added.

If all that piques your interest, then mark your calendar for Sept. 14 for the fifth annual Bonsai Exhibit, Demonstration and Marketplace taking place at the Milwaukie Center, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive.

COURTESY PHOTOS - Bonsai Society of Portland member Scott Elser, right, in orange T-shirt, leads a workshop about how to work with crab apple trees at an event last year at the Milwaukie Center.  The Bonsai Society of Portland is one of the largest bonsai clubs in the United States, with approximately 400 participating members. The annual fall show will showcase some of the finest examples of bonsai anywhere in North America, many of which are native species, Wingfield said.

The more than 300 trees on display will include deciduous trees, conifers, junipers, boxwood and many other species. Many of these trees will be "Yamadori" trees, which means they have been collected from the mountains or from the wild.

Visitors will be able to see bonsai trees at every level of development from just collected and nursery stock, to basic and advanced development, to refinement and show ready, Wingfield said.

The exhibit is designed to educate the public about the ancient but evolving art form of bonsai in the Pacific Northwest. Live demonstrations, lectures and hands-on classes will be ongoing throughout the day, and society members will be available to answer questions.

Marketplace items will include mature bonsai, early-stage trees and everything in between, including pots and books.

Mastering the art form

Wingfield has been a bonsai enthusiast for over 40 years and a member of the society since 1996. Bonsai is his primary passion, he said, noting that he also is a Master Gardener and actively pursues many aspects of horticulture.

"I enjoy most the fact that the trees are living elements with their own unique environmental standards and conditions, and will only respond to my care and study in their own time and way," he said.

"Bonsai requires patience and a commitment of time to bring out the beauty within the tree.  And it requires different levels of care throughout the entire year," Wingfield added.

Family activity   

He noted that bonsai as a hobby has become something the entire family can pursue.

"The Bonsai Society of Portland fosters this by offering free mentorship classes throughout the year for our members and their families," Wingfield said.

Sometimes the practice becomes a bit of a competition between parents and children.

"But always, the activity carries on through the entire year and becomes a family activity in which the family actually engages and interacts with one another on a piece of living art."

At the exhibit, visitors will be treated to a forest of bonsai trees, some estimated to be well over 100 years old.

Wingfield added, "When you see a tree of that age growing in a small bonsai container and understand the harshness of the environment in which it grew and survived, and understand the history of mankind it has observed, then you have an entirely different perspective of life and time."

Small-scale trees

What: The Bonsai Society of Portland presents the fifth annual Bonsai Exhibit, Demonstration and Marketplace

When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14

Where: The Milwaukie Center, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive

Details: BSOP members will present lectures, exhibits, demonstrations and a full bonsai marketplace to educate the public about this art form.

Tickets: Admission is $5 for adults; children 12 and under are free

More: Visit portlandbonsai.org


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