Visits to the Annual Mid-American Bonsai Exhibit in Chicago

The August Mid-American Bonsai Exhibit in Chicago, Illinois is one of the largest regional shows in the nation. Bonsai enthusiast from a five state region bring their best trees to share with the public. Going on its 37th year, the exhibit is focused around the Chicago Botanic Garden’s permanent collection.  Now featuring nearly 50 world-class trees, the permanent collection in Chicago has definitely progressed over many years.

Our hope is to do the same at the Omaha Botanic Garden, Lauritzen Garden, in Omaha, Nebraska. The beginning stages of the display at the Chicago Botanic Garden are similar to the current bonsai display at Lauritzen Gardens. Nebraska Bonsai Society President Loren Buxton is working with the trees at Lauritzen trying to help advance the permanent collection out of its infancy. Over the last four years, the NBS has held an annual bonsai exhibit in conjunction with the garden’s annual Chrysanthemum and Japanese Ambiance festival. The garden curator loves the NBS bonsai presence and the public draw it brings to the festival. This year’s exhibit will be held the weekend of October 4 and 5. Check back in October for pictures from the event.

Here are some of our photos from past Mid-American Bonsai Exhibits in Chicago, in addition to a few photos of the garden itself. If you have never been to the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Mid-American exhibit we highly recommend that you check it out. The three-day event is packed with workshops and free demonstrations by professional bonsai artists set in one of the best Botanic Gardens in the US.


Courtyard with the garden’s permanent collection of bonsai.


European Olive


Sawara False Cypress Boulevard


Andy Smith’s booth from Golden Arrow Bonsai


Here is a view of the Japanese Garden from across the pond. It definitely draws you to it.


A beautiful view of some wonderful pines as we walked around Japanese Garden. A lot of work goes into these pines to keep them looking so amazing.



This looks like a very old stone lantern. One of many through out the gardens.


Stone lantern among hostas.



Jim Doyle’s collected Eastern White Cedar


Bill Valavanis’s beautiful Korean Hornbeam. Nice stand also!


Neil Dellinger’s Bougainvillea one of Matt’s Ouwinga’s students.


Matt Ouwinga’s shohin display. Matt probably has one of the finest Japanese pottery collections in the United States.


Jim Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Juniper. This tree was collected by Andy Smith.


Ryan Neil critiquing Helene & Alan Magruder’s White Pine. Helene and Alan have one of the nicest bonsai collections in Iowa.


Bjorn Bjorholm working on a common Juniper at one of the demonstrations.



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