Saturday, October 11, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sunday, October 12, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

The North Carolina Arboretum will host the 19th annual Carolina Bonsai Expo Saturday and Sunday, October 11 and 12, 2014. Featuring juried exhibits by bonsai enthusiasts from a six-state region, a renowned bonsai marketplace, workshops, free demonstrations, and an ikebana exhibit provided by the Asheville Chapter of Ikebana International, the Expo is the premier annual bonsai event of the Southeast and the most popular plant show hosted by the Arboretum.

The Expo is also a perfect occasion to explore the Arboretum’s Bonsai Exhibition Garden, which offers a world-class display that innovatively establishes bonsai in the context of the Southern Appalachians. Deciduous bonsai specimens on display in the garden often feature brilliant autumn color during this time of year.

The Carolina Bonsai Expo is free for Arboretum Society members or with the standard parking fee ($12 per personal vehicle).

Participating Bonsai Clubs  

North Carolina

Blue Ridge Bonsai Club, Asheville
Bonsai Society of the Carolinas, Charlotte
Cape Fear Bonsai Society, Wilmington
Piedmont NC Bonsai Association, Winston Salem
Triangle Bonsai Society, Raleigh

South Carolina

Black Creek Study Group, Columbia


Knoxville Bonsai Society, Knoxville
Mid-Appalachian Bonsai Kai, Johnson City
Nashville Bonsai Society, Nashville


Hinoki Bonsai Club, Roanoke
Mountain Empire Bonsai Society, Wytheville
Tidewater Bonsai Club, Suffolk
Virginia Bonsai Society, Norfolk


Atlanta Bonsai Society, Atlanta


Susquehanna Bonsai Club, Harrisburg  

Bonsai Marketplace Vendors

Adams Bonsai, Lynchburg, VA
Bonsai Learning Center, Charlotte, NC
Meco Bonsai, Lancaster, PA
Meehan’s Miniatures, Rohrersville, MD
Mike Brawley Bonsai, Charlotte, NC
Nature's Way Nursery, Harrisburg, PA
Osiga Company, Ellicott City, MD
Tall Pines Bonsai, Columbia, SC
Turnbull Creek Bonsai, Burns, TN
Wild Things Bonsai Studio, Hartville, OH

Guest Artist

The 2014 Carolina Bonsai Expo guest artist is David DeGroot, of Federal Way, WA

Ask any person knowledgeable about bonsai in the US to name the top 3 public bonsai collections in the country and the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection in Federal Way, WA will almost certainly be on the list. David DeGroot has been the curator of that collection since its inception, more than 25 year ago. He is an award-winning designer and author, who has been studying and practicing bonsai since 1972. He has studied bonsai in Japan with Yasuo Mitsuya, satsuki azaleas with Tatemori Gondo and Hayata Nakayama, and display with Uhaku Sudo. His educational journal articles have been published throughout the U.S. and in eight other countries, and his first book Basic Bonsai Design is now in its 7th printing. His new book Principles of Bonsai Design will be published this year. David is an engaging teacher and an entertaining speaker who travels widely to lecture, and has presented programs across the U.S. and in Brazil, Canada, China, England, South Africa, and Venezuela. He is active with several bonsai organizations in the Puget Sound area, and has served 2 terms on the board of directors of the American Bonsai Society. His understanding of the design principles that make bonsai an art form is matched only by his expertise in the horticultural aspect of it. David was the Expo guest artist in 1999 and we are proud to have him return!

2014 Carolina Bonsai Expo MAIN EVENT

Saturday, October 11th

1:00 to 4:00 PM -  "Rediscovering the Promise" 2014 Carolina Bonsai Expo guest artist David DeGroot conducts a lesson in artistic bonsai design.

Every Carolina Bonsai Expo since the very first in 1996 has highlighted the talents of special guest artists, and the lecture/demonstration programs provided by these individuals have earned a reputation for educational excellence. This year’s presentation by Mr. David DeGroot promises to continue the tradition. David’s work as the curator of one of the finest public bonsai collections in North America gives him the experience of growing and refining high quality bonsai of a wide range of styles and species. In this program, he will first share images and information regarding the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, before moving on to a styling demonstration. David will work with a large, old, Shimpaku Juniper from the NC Arboretum’s bonsai holdings. The tree is healthy and full, but has lost much of its previous design clarity, and now is the time for it to be brought back under control and aimed in a new direction.

This program is scheduled for 3 hours, although there is the possibility of it extending beyond that if more time is needed. The first hour will feature an overview by David of his work at the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection. This will be followed by an intensive re-design session of work on the Shimpaku Juniper, during which David will be focused on the tree and the program attendees will be at their liberty to come and go as they please. At the conclusion of his work, David will discuss what he has done and what he anticipates will be the future development of the bonsai, and there will be a question and answer session.

Only registered attendees will be able to attend any part of this program. The program will be conducted in the classrooms on the 1st floor of the Education Center.

The cost of this program is $12 for Arboretum members and $15 for non-members and the 100 available spaces will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Reservations can be made beginning 9:00 AM, Tuesday 9/23/14, online 24/7 at or by phone during business hours Monday through Friday ((828) 665-2492 - ask to register for Bonsai Expo Main Event) or in person at the Arboretum. Reservations must be secured by payment, either by credit card at the time of registration or by personal check received within 5 working days of the time of registration. REGISTRATION WILL NOT BE TAKEN BEFORE 9:00 AM TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23.


Free Educational Programs

(All programs listed take place in the classrooms on the 1st floor of the Education Center)


Saturday, October 11th:


11:00 AM to 12:00 PM – “Expressions of Autumn”, ikebana demonstration by Sibbie Wilson, Certified Second Degree Master of the Ohara School of Ikebana. The Ohara School was founded in 1895 in Japan and is considered by many to be the first "modern" school of ikebana. Sibbie has studied with some of the leading authorities of the Ohara School and has been a member of the North American Ohara Teachers Association since its founding in 2002. She started teaching on a regular basis in 2000 and holds classes at her home in Otto and in Highland, North Carolina. She has been a Member at Large of Ikebana International since 1996 and is currently a member of the Asheville Chapter. Sibbie Wilson was the ikebana guest artist in 2009 and the Arboretum is proud to welcome her back.


Sunday, October 12th:

11:00 AM to Noon - “Where Do You Keep Your Bonsai?”, lecture and picture show by Harold Johnson of the Triangle Bonsai Society. There are various factors to be considered when identifying a suitable site for growing your bonsai. Along with the important horticultural requirements, care should also be taken as regards presentation. After all, your treasured bonsai will most likely be seen and enjoyed out in their everyday growing area far more often than they will in a formal display. In this presentation you will see and learn about a number of options for both growing and “displaying” your bonsai at home. Whether you are attracted by the elaborate or simple, you will learn a thing or two! Harold Johnson has more than 25 years of experience as a bonsai grower, and has served as a former President of the Triangle Bonsai Society and a Director of the American Bonsai Society. These days he can be heard on the radio as the host of a gardening program on WCOM 103.5 FM in the Raleigh-Durham area.



1:00 to 2:00 PM – “The Great Bonsai Debate”, discussion session with Arthur Joura, NC Arboretum Bonsai Curator, and Owen Reich, bonsai professional and proprietor of “Bonsai Unearthed”.

A subject of ongoing concern in the American bonsai community is the twofold question, “What is the state of bonsai art in the US and what might the future hold?” Owen Reich has studied bonsai in Japan, serving for 2 years as an apprentice at the Kouka-en nursery, and now makes his living traveling all over the US as a bonsai professional. He has been totally immersed in the world of high-level bonsai in Japan and has also had the opportunity to observe firsthand what is happening in American bonsai, so his opinion is well informed. Arthur Joura has been the bonsai curator at the NC Arboretum for the past 21 years, guiding the development of what has become one of the premier public bonsai collections in the country. The Arboretum’s reputation as a place where bonsai is presented differently springs from Arthur’s alternative ideas about what might be done in the art of growing miniature trees and landscapes.

Owen’s and Arthur’s conceptions of American bonsai, while sharing some similarities, differ widely on some very significant points. In this unique program, those differences will be articulated and examined, challenged and defended. Owen and Arthur approach the topic, and each other, with thoughtfulness and respect, so those hoping for a heated public brawl will likely be disappointed. But for people who care about bonsai and wonder about its future, this discussion should provide much food for thought. Audience members will have the opportunity to make their voices heard in a Q&A session in the latter part of the program.


Schedule of Events:


Saturday, October 11

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Arboretum’s bonsai on display in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden; main bonsai exhibit open in the Education Center, 1st floor; ikebana exhibit open in the Education Center, 2nd floor; vendors market open in the Baker Exhibit Center, 1st and 2nd floors; food service available in the Education Center, 1st floor

11:00 a.m to Noon – Free ikebana educational program, “Expressions of Autumn” lecture and demonstration by 2014 Expo guest ikebana artist Sibbie Wilson, in the classrooms of the Education Center, 1st floor

1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Special presentation, "Rediscovering the Promise", lecture and demonstration by 2014 Expo guest artist David DeGroot, in the classrooms of the Education Center, 1st floor (pre-registration required, fee charged for this program)

Sunday, October 12

9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. - Arboretum’s bonsai on display in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden; main bonsai exhibit open in the Education Center, 1st floor; ikebana exhibit open in the Education Center, 2nd floor; vendors market open in the Baker Exhibit Center, 1st and 2nd floors; food service available in the Education Center, 1st floor

11:00 a.m. to Noon – Free bonsai educational program, “Where Do You Keep Your Bonsai?” lecture and demonstration by Harold Johnson of the Triangle Bonsai Society, in the classrooms of the Education Center, 1st floor

1:00 to 2:00 p.m. – Free bonsai educational program, “The Great Bonsai Debate”, discussion session with Arthur Joura, Bonsai Curator of the NC Arboretum, and Owen Reich of Bonsai Unearthed, in the classrooms of the Education Center, 1st floor

2:30 to 3:30 p.m. – Live auction of bonsai and bonsai-related items, in the classrooms of the Education Center, 1st floor (pre-registration required, $1 fee charged for this event)

3:30 p.m. – raffle drawing, presentation of “People’s Choice” award, and closing remarks in the classrooms of the Education Center, 1st floor