Why Become a Member?

by Larry Larrimer

I have been asked what the goals of the Midwest Bonsai Society are and what can I say to entice people to become members.

These are two good questions. I had never thought of them before because, since I saw my first Bonsai in Japan in 1947, I have been intrigued by the little old trees. Maybe "intrigued" is not a good word. I think better words would be "entranced" or "bewitched". I do not need a truly great Bonsai to give me a feeling of awe or of great peace or of great contemplation.

I cannot create a good Bonsai alone. I need a tree that has potential. I need knowledge in order to select that tree and to visualize that potential. I need knowledge in order to bring that tree to its full early potential and more knowledge and advice to continue to develop the tree.

To bring that tree to its full potential in five years or fifty years, I need to nurture it. I need to understand how it grows. I need to know what to feed it at different times of the year. I need to know how to water it and when to water it. I need to know how to protect it from our Chicago winters. I need to know how to protect it from insect and fungus infestation.

All of the above is what I get from being a member of the Midwest Bonsai Society. I can bring a tree in to any meeting and get advice and help in styling and planning and nurturing. There is so much to know about Bonsai care and formation that it is very helpful to have a group of people that know as much as the members and who are as willing to share their knowledge.

At the meetings, we can buy trees and tools and pots and soil. There are speakers who are more expert than I am who give demonstrations that I can learn from.

Every year in August, the Midwest Bonsai Society has a show. There is an advantage in being a member of the Society. As members, we have the opportunity to be aware in advance of the workshops available and can sign up for them a little earlier than non-members simply because we are there. If you are interested in the creation of Bonsai, I recommend being a member just for the knowledge. The cost is very low and the benefits in knowledge are very great.

We meet at the Chicago Botanic Garden on the first Monday (that is not a holiday) of every month except January. For years some of our members have taken care of the Chicago Botanic Garden¹s Bonsai collection. Our relationship with the Garden is a very close one.