Bonsai enthusiasts look forward to early October at Reiman Gardens because that is the traditional time for the Annual Iowa Bonsai Association Fall Bonsai Show. Bonsai has within it many different styles as well as many different species that lend themselves to treatment as bonsai. For several past shows we have used a theme to highlight some of these styes—forests, literati, shohin, and so forth. This fall the only thematic presence is that exhibitor will show some of their favorite bonsais. Bonsai speak to their creators. For others to get a sense of what the artist sees in the bonsai tree, companion pieces are often needed—companion plants, kusamono, rocks, or even small sculptures or found objects. As the Beetles lyric says: “I get by with some help from my friends.” The full presentation thus is a tree in a pot, on a stand, with one or more companion pieces, on their own stands. You view a multi-part composition, with an integrated meaning. The “friends” bring out the best in the bonsai, as they do for us as individuals. Lean in, listen close, and maybe you can even hear the conversation.
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