The Blue Ridge Bonsai Society supports and promotes the art of bonsai in the region around Asheville, NC. We meet together monthly, providing companionship, education, and workshops from beginner to advanced level and we exhibit in various shows during the year.
Goal for 2020-2021: To help each member gain in knowledge of how to develop a show-quality bonsai.
- Members will be encouraged to create a written plan describing the future development of each tree. (This is useful for tracking what works and what does not.)
- Meeting activities in February, April, July, and August contribute to these goals.
2021 Meetings and Events
Meeting and event locations vary because of the COVID-19 requirements.
Jan. 11 - No meeting
Feb. 21 - Felix Laughlin led a group discussion of wintering conditions for different kinds of bonsai. This was a ZOOM Meeting.
MAR. 14 - No meeting..
April 11 - Jesse McMahon discussed different styles of display stands and how to use stands effectively at bonsai shows.
This was a ZOOM Meeting.
May 9 - Being arranged by the Program Committee.
June 27, 2021 - Young Choe's kusamono workshop will be held at the Etowah Valley Golf Club Pavillion. This is a firm date.
Aug. 28 & 29 - We exhibit at the Knoxville Bonsai Society's 20th Anniversary show. See the Special Notices page for all the details!
The Carolina Bonsai Expo at the NC Arboretum has definitely been cancelled for 2021 because of COVID-19.
Opportunity to get a new book Growing Pines for Bonsai from a bonsai master and expert on pines, Julian Adams:
Quote from the author:
"For fifty years, I have been fascinated by pine bonsai. For much of that time, I have been frustrated by confusing and conflicting "rules" for properly growing pine bonsai. Much research coupled with trial and error has finally made the process clear to me. . . . I feel compelled to make the knowledge I have gathered on this subject available in clear English to all who may be interested . . .."
Clicking the following link will take you to Adams website and information on ordering this book.
General Information during COVID-19
Our meeting place, the Visitors' Center at the Asheville Botanical Gardens, has been closed since April, 2020. As of March, 2021, there is still no news on when it may reopen and be available for our meetings.
All trails and gardens at the NC
Arboretum are now open, and the Bonsai Garden is open from 9:00 to 5:00 daily.
BRBS Dues for 2021
Our normal club dues Are $30 for an individual membersip or $35 for a family membership. Because of the COVID-19 disruptions of our activities in 2020 and uncertainty about 2021, dues for s021 will be prorated at 50%: $15 or $17.50.
(Of course, if you can afford to pay full dues as a donation, it would help to pay for bonsai professionals for Zoom or live meetings in 2021.)
Click here to read President Peggy Snow's email about dues for 2021:
Bonsai at the NC Arboretum
Arthur Joura Monthly Series: "Bonsai at the NC Arboretum: More than Meets the Eye"
Arthur Joura, Bonsai Curator at the NC Arboretum, will be giving a series of online talks once a month on Thursdays for six months, starting January 28th at 4:00 pm.
You can register for the whole series or for individual sessions. If you would like to register for a session that has already occurred, the link to the recording will be sent to you, so you can watch it now.
The following link will take you to the registration site for these sessions:
If you have questions, please contact NC Arboretum Adult Education Programs at 828-665-2492 or email
In the first program on January 20th, Arthur discussed and illustrated the unique approach of the NC Arboretum bonsai collection:
Focus on the human experience of nature more than bonsai standards received from other cultures
Use of species native to our area
In addition to single trees and forests, presentation of bonsai in "tray landscapes" containing many species and representing a particular place.
The second talk in the series was on Thursday, February 25 and included Arthur and John Geanangel from the Black Creek Study group.
The March presentation on "Naturalistic Expression" was on Thursday, March 25th.
Arthur showed a short series of paintings of trees from China, Japan, and the West from the classical Chinese period to Impressionism demonstrating the great variations in natural vs. symbolic representations. Then he discussed two bonsai "case studies"; (1) a ficus developed exactly to John Naka's very Japanese design principles and (2) a flat-top bald cypress designed by Vaughn Banting that follows no Japanese design principles at all--bald cypress being outside Japanese experience.
Arthur also showed his own photographs of remarkable full-sized trees and discussed the conditions and responses to adversity that create these natural trees.
The April program (Thursday, April 29 at 4:00 pm) will be on the "Red Maple for Bonsai."
Almost all maples are suitable for bonsai, but the red maple (Acer rubrum)--one of the most common trees in eastern North America--rarely appears as bonsai. In this program, Arthur discusses and demonstrates the cultivation and styling techniques he has developed over the last 25 years and the unique red maple bonsai at the Arboretum.
The May program (Thursday, May 27 at 4:00 pm) is "Inside Appalachian Cove." The Appalachian Cove tray landscape is a great representative of the uniqueness of the Arboretum's bonsai program. It contains a variety of plants native to the Appalachian area in a naturalistic style. The container is made of American chestnut and has its own story..
All bonsai need periodic repotting, including enormous, complex tray landscapes. Arthur will discuss the original design of this landscape in 2005 in time for the opening of the bonsai garden in October, 2005. He will also demonstrate the tricky transplanting process.
The June program (Thursday, June 24 at 4:00 - 5:30 pm) will be a joint presentation by the bonsai curators of two of the best known bonsai collections in the country: Arthur Joura for the NC Arboretum and Chris Baker for the Chicago Botanical Garden. Join us for a remote walk through the Chicago collection.
The whole series is described in the PDF document below.
A National Bonsai Foundation Profile of Arthur Joura
can be seen at the following link:
Appalachian Bonsai video of Arthur's "A Radical Redesign" demo
Last year, Arthur gave a live demo at the Arboretum of the radical redesign of a shimpaku bonsai. Ben Kirkland has condensed it to 24 minutes for his YouTube channel, Appalachian Bonsai. Enjoy.
It's April. Are you finished repotting yet?
Here is the link, (thanks to Felix Laughlin), to a very good article from Bonsai Tonight in 2016 on how to wire a bonsai into almost any kind of pot.
New on March 7th: Ferns
No, they are not bonsai, but ferns are beautiful and ancient and strange. The Men's Garden Club of Asheville have generously shared the following presentation with us.
It covers the evolution and reproduction of ferns as well as how to propagate them from spores.
New: International BONSAI Online
In 1979, William Valavanis and Yuji Yoshimura launched International BONSAI magazine type-set with state-of-the-art four-color film photographs.
42 years and 164 issues later, Bill Valavanis has decided to retire this beautiful printed version and replace it with a free digital bimonthly magazine; International BONSAI OnLine:
Here is the link to sign up:
New: Bonsai Podcast
Jonas Dupuich, the author of the wonderful website and illustrated blog "Bonsai Tonight", and Michael Hagadorn, author of the new book Bonsai Heresy, and some of their friends are now recording podcasts of conversations with bonsai experts.
Both the blog and the podcasts are available from:
More Suggested Activities:
The Washington Post has a really beautiful article on Young Choe. Click here to read it:
Take care of your trees and write their histories!
Some of our most experienced members got together and designed a document to help you do this. Download a copy here. You an use the Word version of the document if you want to add pictures of your trees.
Learn more! (Have you looked at all the best known references?) Go to the Library page of this website to download our new one-page bonsai reference list. One-page map to wisdom!
See the Photo Gallery page for pictures of three bonsai exhibits taken by our roving photographer, Stuart Rogers:
The 2019 Winter Silhouette Show in Kannapolis in December
The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington, DC
Knoxville Bonsai Society's Winter Show in February, 2020