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Bonsai bonanza at the Lynden Sculpture Garden this weekend

Posted at 4:56 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 17:56:16-04

MILWAUKEE — The stunning art of bonsai tree sculpting is on display at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee this weekend.

It's an absolute bonsai bonanza with around 70 different trees on display. It's safe to say you haven't seen bonsai trees that look like this. Some are tall, wide, short, leafy, pine-y, and everything in between.

"It's a three dimensional art form that takes care and knowledge - it's a combination of being a gardener and Michelangelo," Bryan Lorentzen, the president of the Milwaukee Bonsai Society, said.

Milwaukee Bonsai Society, bonsai
All different kinds of trees can be turned into bonsai trees. This is a redwood, known for being one of the tallest tree species in the world.

The display is part of the group's 50th exhibit. This weekend there are various showings, education workshops, and a judged competition.

"(Bonsai) trees are cool because it takes a lot of time to get them to look this way, and it takes a lot of education to keep a tree alive," Lortentzen said.

It has taken many years to sculpt the bonsai trees into the shape that you will see at the exhibit. One broken branch could be a decades long mistake. If taken cared for properly, they will last hundreds of years.

When I visited the exhibit for this story, I wasn't expecting the variety of trees on display. All I knew about bonsai trees is what I saw in the Karate Kid. Daniel Laruso being taught the art by Mr. Miyagi. The movie featured a juniper tree. That's what I always envisioned when I thought of bonsai trees, and I'm not alone apparently. Lorentzen said many people believe bonsai trees are only junipers; however, they come in all shapes and sizes.

Bonsai Tree
Around 70 bonsai trees are on display this weekend at the Lynden Sculpture Garden.

There are some pines, redwood trees, elms, maples, cedar, and more.

"The number of trees that can be bonsai is a good thing, and for some of us, it's a bad thing because it's our addiction," Lortentzen, who has about 30 mature bonsai trees, said.

In simple terms, a bonsai tree is just a small, manicured tree that is placed in a pot. That's how they are able to have one of the largest tree species, redwoods, also be made into bonsai trees.

This exhibit runs this weekend only. The hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. For beginners, you can watch how bonsai trees are sculpted, and relatively experienced artists can participate in the workshops. The best part? The exhibit is free. Find more info here.

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