Nature and art intertwined is a quick summary of the ancient Japanese art of bonsai, those wonderfully clipped and pruned trees pared down to miniature living sculptures.

“I’ve always been drawn to Eastern philosophy and culture,” says Rita Powell, a member of the Munster Garden Club who estimates she has approximately 40 bonsai trees. Her bonsai collection includes what she terms fairly common bonsai like juniper trees to the much more esoteric such as her quince bonsai and a 65-year-old beech.

She also has a bonsai shaped by Roy Nagatoshi, owner of Fuji Bonsai Nursery in Sylmar, California. Nagatoshi, who has crafted bonsai for more than 30 years, but is much better known for creating the bonsai for the movie “Karate Kid III.”

For those who want to learn about bonsai or just to look at a large variety of these living statues, the Midwest Bonsai Society is presenting the 40th annual Mid-America Bonsai Show & Sale this weekend at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois. The show, considered one of the top three in the country, is for all levels of bonsai enthusiasts from beginners to experts.

“The Society puts on two shows a year,” says Robert Wright, current president of the Midwest Bonsai Society. “Our May show is the smaller of the two and focuses on the developmental side of bonsai, while our August show is a judged competition usually hosting about 100 trees.”

The show also will have vendors on hand selling bonsai trees, raw nursery stock, pots, tools and supplies. Visitors to the show also can see Chicago Botanic Garden's collection of 200 bonsai.

Powell, who is an avid gardener and also creates miniature gardens, said the fashioning bonsai can be as easy or complicated as you want it to be. 

“Once you start,” she said. “It’s hard to stop.”

If you go

What: 40th annual Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition

When: Continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL

Cost: Admission to the exhibit is free. Parking fees for entrance to the Chicago Botanic Garden apply.

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