Meetings and Events


Monthly Meetings

BBS_images7Held on the second Thursday of every month at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, WI),
meetings start at 6:30 and end at 8:00 pm
(NO PUBLIC MEETING IN  January or July) …

Information on the upcoming BBS Monthly meeting
this is now being kept up-to-date!

In addition to monthly meetings, which cover a wide range of subjects of interest to bonsai enthusiasts, many special events are held. These include workshops, lectures, demonstrations, exhibitions, collecting trips, and instructions on the art of bonsai. These activities ebb and flow over the years with the makeup of the members. For a current list of activities see the meetings and activities list below



Most workshop instructions are free, but you will be required to pay for the material you use. At times we are able to get a master or instructor for a special workshop or demonstration, and there will be a fee for those events. We try to keep the cost down so everyone can afford to join in. Typically a workshop is limited to ten people and will cost between $25-100, depending on the materials used.

-Bonsai 101 Class videos from 2023


Styling tropical

Styling Clump Blueberry

Styling Blueberry

April Bonsai Show

News release of show

(red activities or dates are still tentative)

last updated Jan-31-2023

2023 Current Meetings and Activities

January 12:
•    no meeting at Olbrich Gardens
•    Annual membership dinner at Imperial Gardens … members-only (bring spouse / partner / guest)

•    meeting at Olbrich Gardens
•    Japanese Woodblock Printing Presentation by guest Professor Steffani Bennett  (Rescheduled for March Meeting)

March 9:
•    Japanese Woodblock Printing Presentation by guest Professor Steffani Bennett
•    repotting

April: 1 (12 to 3 pm)
•  yamadori burning bush dig with Milwaukee Bonsai Society
•  Boerner Botanical Visitor Building on the lower level (this is in Milwaukee)

April 8:
•  session 4 of the Bonsai Foundations Course
•  for BBS-members only that have registered and paid for this course

April 13:
•    extended meeting to 8:45pm
•    repotting bring in your own trees
•    2 to 4 simultaneous demonstrations

May 11:
•   show prep
•   fertilization & watering

May 13:
•   Bonsai Fundamentals Course, Session 5

May 20 (Sat) and May 21 (Sun):
•    Annual Show at Olbrich Gardens … 10am to 4pm on both days
•    two demonstrations each day, bonsai displays

2022 Current Meetings and Activities

January 13:
•    no meeting at Olbrich Gardens
•    Annual membership dinner at Imperial Gardens (canceled for COVID concerns)

February 10:
•    Ficus pruning and propagation
•   update on by-laws proposed revisions
•   remember your annual dues

March 10:
•    pots and repotting
•    membership voting on by-laws revisions

April 2 (Saturday afternoon):
•    workshop at Olbrich Gardens
•    bring your trees for assistance

April 14:
•    extended meeting to 8:45pm
•    bonsai tools
•    2 to 4 simultaneous demonstrations

May 12:
•  presentation of bonsai roots, nebari and care and fixing issues of them
members recap of Wisco Bonsai Black Pine workshop
•  discussion of preparing your trees for display at the Annual Show

May 21 (Sat) and May 22 (Sun):
•    Annual Show at Olbrich Gardens … 10am to 4pm both days
•    two demonstrations each day, bonsai displays

June 9:
•   update on BBS Library … now active at Olbrich’s Schumaker Library for checkouts
•   review slideshow of 2022 Annual Show
•   “post-mortum” of Annual Show … pros and cons … how to improve for May-2023
•   photos from ABS (American Bonsai Society) “learning-seminar” / Brussel’s rendezvous
discussion of Larch … members are encouraged to bring in Larch they have or are working on

July 14:
•  we will meet at our regular meeting time, but will be a social gathering (with non-aloholic drinks and snacks) at building east of Fish Hatchery Road in south Madison (see meeting post for location) … no agenda or plan or real structure … members encouraged to bring along trees to discuss / work on; and bonsai-related items for sale / swap / give-away … door prizes for members

August 11:
•  BYO Workshop to Show and Tell about a special aspect or technique to share with membership
•  review Bonsai Fundamentals Course for Fall-2022 / Spring-2023

September 8 (extended time meeting):
•  presentation on development and progression of Ron’s award winning (at WI State Fair) Little Leaf Linden
•  a brief introduction to smaller bonsai
•  work on your own bonsai … be sure to bring in suitable tools and supplies
•  conclude sign-up for BBS-members-only Bonsai Fundamentals Course for Fall-2022 / Spring-2023

October 8 (Sat):
•  session 1 of Bonsai Foundations Course
•  for BBS-members only that have registered and paid for this course

October 13:
•  presentation on Big Trunks and Sacrificial Branches
•  wintering strategies
•  opening of nominations for 2023 BBS officers

October 22 (Sat):
•  session 2 of Bonsai Foundations Course … starts promptly at 9am, so arrive early
•  for BBS-members only that have registered and paid for this course

November 10:
•  wintering strategies
•  detailed views of bonsai soil components
•  election of 2023 BBS officers

November 12 (Sat):
•  session 3 of Bonsai Foundations Course … starts promptly at 9am, so arrive early
•  for BBS-members only that have registered and paid for this course

December 8:
•  show-n-tell focus … include suiseki if you want
•  collect ideas for meeting and activity content in 2023
•  Christmas cookies and treats

2021 Current Meetings and Activities

January:  No Annual membership dinner

January 14:
•    suggestions for changes to By-Laws
•    discuss bonsai todo-s during wintering

February 11:
•    continued discussion of bonsai todo-s during wintering
•    summary of membership survey
•    topics on virtual bonsai

March 11:
•    All you need to know about pots for bonsai
•    plans for April and May meetings, and Annual Show

April 8:
•    MaryE 1st potting of a nursery-found tree
•    plans for April digs
•    plans for May meeting, and Annual Show

April 10:
•    Amur Maple Dig at Tim’s

April 17:
•    juniper dig … we should be able to finalize the date at the Apr-8th meeting

April 24:
•    Ancient Arts Bonsai (Oconomowoc-WI) open house

May 13:
•    RonF demo on repotting a previously-potted bonsai: how and why
•    last minute preparation tips for Annual Show

May 15 and May 16:
•    Badger Bonsai Society 2021 Annual Show; 10am-4pm

June 10:
•    feedback from Annual Show; Amur Maple dig showcase and design ideas

July 8:
•    review 2021 Annual Show tree display “movie”; … no picnic in July this year, though picnic may occur in Sep or Oct
•    volunteer magazine reviews; continued discussion of collected Apple tree bonsai

August 12:
•    replay of grove planting presentation from Sep-2020 zoom meeting
•    Silent auction of club pots, books, and perhaps some trees

September 9:
•    tips for boxwood plantings from rooted cuttings
•    air layering techniques for bonsai
•    review National Bonsai Foundation tribute to John Naka

October 14:  (meeting from 6:30 to 9pm)
•    wintering strategies
•    design style discussions (informal and formal upright, cascades)
•    Ralph’s mums in their flowering glory

Saturday, Oct-16th:
•   Olbrich Gardens Grand Opening (of new facilities) 10am to 2pm
•   BBS social get together for members … noon to 2:30pm

November 11:
•    election of officers for 2022
•    KenC presentation on Japanse Orchids
•    JonB on pottery and making bonsai pots

•    Suiseki and Viewing Stones
•    ZachW presentation on ficus pruning and propogation
•    Finalize headcount for Jan-13-2022 membership dinner
Annual Dues … are due

2020 Current Meetings and Activities

January 9  (at Imperial Garden restaurant):
Annual membership dinner … no normal meeting

February 13:
•    review North American collection of National Bonsai Museum
•    Discuss 2020 meeting / event schedule

March 12:
•    Ikebana (Japanese art of flower arranging)
•    discuss new concept in meeting events / membership participation
•    final update on Feb-polling of North American collection

April 9:
•    due to COVID-19 … NO  MEETING  in April … instead we will have on-line activities announced on the website and via April-newsletter
•    Ranking of Japanese Collection

May 14:   
•    due to COVID-19 … NO  MEETING  in May … instead we will have on-line activities announced on the website and via May-newsletter
May 16 and 17:  CANCELED due to COVID-19
•   BBS Annual Show … Sat May-16 and Sun May-17 at Olbrich Gardens
June 11:  (no physical meeting due to COVID-19)
•    virtual demos and presentations
•    simultaneous demos by 3 club members
•    review annual show
June 25 to 28 in Milwaukee (non-meeting activity):
•    MABA 2020  … CANCELED due to COVID-19 (but re-scheduled to June 10 – 13, 2021)
July 9:  (doing virtual meeting instead of picnic)
No Membership picnic in July, instead doing a Zoom virtual meeting on Thursday Jul-9th at 6:30pm, and probably last to between 8pm and 8:30pm
August 13 :
•   no physical meeting at Olbrich again … doing a Zoom virtual meeting on Thursday Aug-13th at 6:30pm, and probably last to between 8pm and 8:30pm … see newsletter for admission details if you do not receive BBS mailings

•   presentation on Azaleas and Pots; juniper refinement video;

September 10 :

•   no physical meeting at Olbrich again … doing a Zoom virtual meeting on Thursday Sep-10th at 6:30pm, and probably last to between 8pm and 8:30pm … see newsletter for admission details if you do not receive BBS mailings
•   presentation on Jade Grove planting; door prizes;
September 27canceled
•   information table at Olbrich Gardens event  … canceled
October 8 :
•   presentation on Jin; BCI Auction; member shares
November 12 :
•   review videos of 2 collections that show the size extremes of bonsai
•   wintering strategies for Wisconsin
•   election of Officers for 2021

December 10 :
•   continued discussion of Wisconsin wintering strategies
•   review Suiseki & Viewing Stones collection of National Bonsai Museum and BBS members
•   topics for 2021 meetings
•   Your Save challenge
•   strategy for By-Laws updates
•   cookie-fest, but show us your cookies and treats

2019 Current Meetings and Activities

January 10:
Annual membership dinner

February 14:
•    Kintsugi (Japanese art of fixing broken pots)
•    Creating light-weight rocks

March 14:
•  “Niwaki, Bonsai, and manhole covers”
making bonsai soils and using moss

Non-Meeting Activity for April (updated)
•    A three (3) session course on Bonsai, begins Thursday Apr-4th; with session 2 on Apr-18th, and the final session 3 on Apr-25th (each from 6pm to 8:30pm at Klein’s Floral and Greenhouses, 3758 E. Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53704.  Full details can be found at this link.

April 11:
•    Red Maple Grove workshop (using club supplied trees)

May 9:
•    BYO Workshop

Annual Show:  Sat May 18 and Sun May 19
Olbrich Gardens
May 18, 9 am – 4:30 pm (demos at 11 am and 1:30 pm)
May 19, 10 am – 4:30 pm (demos at 11 am and 1:30 pm)

June 13:
•    Three club veterans will show their creativity

July:  (Sunday, Jul-21st)
Club Picnic; with “white elephant” exchange — bring items for sale / swap / giveaway
No Public Meeting in July

July Non-Meeting Activity
•    July 28th — field trip to Rotary Garden (Janesville-WI) and Anderson Gardens (Rockford-IL) … see details and RSVP info in July-2019 newsletter

August 8:
Succulents (hopefully by a guest speaker)
recap of July picnic and July-28th field trip
discussion of watering times
MABA call for topics

September 12:
•    Bonsai Styles

September / October Non-Meeting Activity:
•    Sat Sep-28 and Sun Sep-29 Milwaukee Bonsai Society 49th Annual Show in Hales Corners-WI; with guest artist Tyler Sherrod

•    TBD — field trip to Mayflower Nursery, Hobart-WI

•    Slab making workshop — date TBD

•    TBD — field trip to Davidsan’s Japanese Maples in Illinois

October 10:
•    American bonsai masters and examples of their work
•    Maple identification

November 14:
•    Tropical workshop; BBS elections; ideas for 2020 programs

December 12:
•    Suiseki and Daiza making
•    review 2020 program ideas (submitted at the Nov-meeting)

Past 2018 to 2014 through Current Meetings and Activities
(being updated)

Past 2013 Meetings and Activities

February 14:Pottery; pick the right pot for a bonsai
The Rhizosphere

Non-Meeting Activity

February 14:
The Rhizosphere

Non-Meeting Activity
•    Garden Expo Exhibit

March 14:
Pottery; pick the right pot for a bonsai

Non-Meeting Activity
•    Repotting party / repotting, root pruning and soil (Olbrich Gardens, 3.16)

April 11:
•    Garden Expo Exhibit

March 14:
Pottery; pick the right pot for a bonsai

Non-Meeting Activity
•    Repotting party / repotting, root pruning and soil (Olbrich Gardens, 3.16)

April 11:February Newsletter
Water and nutrients

May 9:
Preparing your trees for display

Non-Meeting Activities
•    Amur Maple Forest Workshop (4.20)
•    Nursery Crawl (4.27 – Details in February Newsletter)

Annual Show:
Olbrich Gardens, Evjue Commons
May 18, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 19,
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

June 13:
Pests and Pathogens

Non-Meeting Activity
•    Summer workshop
(date/topic/location TBD)

Club Picnic Meeting
No Public Meeting in July

August 8:
Wiring: gauge, application & removal

Non-Meeting Activity
•    Chicago Show meet-up
If you are headed to the show in Chicago, tell your fellow club members and meet up and enjoy the show together.

September 12:
Fall Show for meeting

October 10:
Preparing for Winter / end of year tasks

November 14:
Official business, elections

December 12:
Winter Celebration

Past 2012 Events:

January 12:  Time once again for the annual dinner.

February 9:  Time to start thinking about the upcoming Bonsai season.  This month we’ll overview a handful of basic equipment and discuss how to get started on the right foot.

March 8:  Time to repot.  Last year we went in-depth into our soil.  This year we’ll get back to techniques.  We’ll try to answer the how’s and the why’s.

April 5:  April will be a good month to review the different styles of bonsai.  This will be somewhat of a general overview.  The goal will be to understand how bonsai can represent “wild” trees.

May 10:  In preparation for the annual show, we will examine Bonsai judging and consider what makes a tree great.  This will build off of the April’s lecture on the styles and provide insight on how to refine a tree once it begins to take form.

May 19 and 20: Workshop

May 19 and 20: Annual Show

June 14:  Workshop. (Bring a Tree to work on)

July:  Annual picnic meeting.

August 9:  Workshop. (Bring a Tree to work on)

September 13:  Show and tell. Club show and critique.

October 11:  Preparing for winter, as usual.

November 8:  Officer election time.

December 13:  Holiday party at Olbrich.

Past 2011 Events:

January 13:
Annual Dinner at Imperial Gardens.

As is customary, we will meet at Imperial Gardens West at 6:00 for drinks and fellowship, and then eat at 6:30.  This is a “member and guest” event.  Several small door prizes will be raffled out during the evening.

February 10:
Tools and tool care.
We will focus on the name and function of Bonsai tools and discuss and demonstrate proper care for them.   Please bring all tools to meeting.  Someone might sharpen them for you.
Feature element: Tools.

March 10:
The focus will be on media and technique. Also a brief discussion of hydroponics and pre-bonsai is very possible.

Feature element: Maples.

April 14:
Show preparation, what makes a bonsai display complete?
Nursery Hunting part 1; introduction, the goal. We will discuss what to look for at you local garden centers, possibly plan a field trip. We will discuss growth characteristics and common suitable species.
Assignment: bring a nursery plant to the next meeting.
Feature element: Accent plants

May 12:
Nursery hunting part 2; The Trees, Choosing a style, when to repot.

We will briefly introduce and discuss our “diamonds in the rough” and consider general styling and requirements per tree.
Feature element: boxwood

May 14, 15:
Annual Show at Olbrich Gardens!

June 9:
Ficus or Schefflera root over rock demo.

Two tropical species that are great for beginners and have fairly hardy roots.
Feature element:

Picnic Meeting

(no public meeting in July)

August 11:
Bring a tree workday.

Get advice and/or a fresh perspective. Having trouble deciding what direction to take with a tree?  Maybe we can help, any tree, any style, bring it.
Feature element: Pines

September 8:
Natal Plum Part 2; further development

Bring in you Natal Plum from last year. Be prepared to talk about it and get advice for the next year. Don’t have one? Start a new one.
Feature element: Natal Plum

October 13:
Winter preparation and indoor environments
Oh, winter.  Let’s discuss techniques we can use to help our trees survive in Wisconsin.  Let’s also talk about the indoor trees and artificial environments.
Feature element: Autumn colors

November 10:
Officer elections and other club politics
Feature element: Junipers

December 8:
Holiday snacks and fun!

Feature element: Your best holiday treat to share.

Past 2010 Events:

January 14th
“Annual Members-Dinner”

February 11th
“Drawing Your Bonsai Attitude
What is Your Bonsai Attitude? Drawing while keeping styling in mind. How does the tree grow? The roots, trunk, branches and foliage masses. Pay attention to balance of the tree – whole presentation. (by Mark)

March 11th
“Wiring Techniques
Wrapping copper or aluminum wire around branches and trunks allows the bonsai designer to create the desired general form and make detailed branch and leaf placements. Slide show presentation and hands on. (by Tim)

April 8th
“Repotting Techniques
Bonsai are repotted and root-pruned at intervals dictated by the vigor and age of each tree. They are often repotted while in development, and less often as they become more mature. Learn the basics to ensure a healthy tree. If you are participating in the Burning Bush workshop on May 13th, now is a good time to pick your tree and repot it. (by Ron)

April 25th
“Forest Planting Workshop
This will be a paid participation event held at Olbrich Gardens from 1 p.m. – 3p.m. We will keep the cost below $25 for the plants and pots. Limited to members only. (or those who signed up on March 11th). Contact for more information.

May 13th
“Burning Bush Workshop pt. 1 of 2 and show preparation

Burning Bush(aka Winged Euonymus or Spindle Tree) Euonymus alata “Compactus” Trees will cost $25

May 15-16th
“Annual Public Show” Olbrich 9 am – 4 pm

All members should bring at least one example from their collection. Attendance is free, donations are welcome. Demonstrations will be held both days at 10 am and 1 pm.
More information is available in the 2010 Annual Show page.

June 10th
“Phoenix Graft (Tanuki) Demo
In Japanese folklore, tanuki (狸?, alternatively タヌキ), the Japanese raccoon dog, are shape-changing tricksters.

Tanuki bonsai are sometimes known as Phoenix Grafts in the West. In Tanuki bonsai, a very young tree is taken, and put into an interesting piece of deadwood, that has had a groove carved into it. The sapling (which is usually a juniper) is affixed to the deadwood, until the young tree has grown into the deadwood. Then the nail, screw, or other affixing device is removed, and then the tree is grown with typical bonsai techniques.

Many Westerners consider Tanuki a true bonsai technique, however in Japan it is not considered as such. Japanese do make Tanuki bonsai, but they are not considered true bonsai, and would never be seen at a Japanese bonsai show. (by Ron and Devon)

July 8th
“Yearly Picnic Meeting”
OPEN TO MEMBERS ONLY – Private invitations to be emailed to members.

Location to be determined. It WILL NOT be held at Olbrich Gardens

August 12th
“Private Club Show and Critique”
This is a new event we are trying this year. Members only participation. The public is welcome to attend but entering trees and providing critique will be limited to members only.

September 9th
This month, we will have a natal plum workshop (Carissa). Ten to 12 plants in pots will be available first to members and then leftovers to whomever would like them.  Exact amounts, prices, and availability are still being figured out.  We are thinking around $20, but that is not an exact figure. More information can be found in the September newsletter >

October 14th
“Fall Clean Up and Winter Preparation
Leaves are falling all around… clean up your bonsai and get ready for winter. Being ready for winter storage and dormancy by Thanksgiving should be your goal. The larger your bonsai collection, the earlier you should start.

November 11th
“End of Year Business/Officer Elections
This is the yearly business meeting for the club. We hold nominations/elections for officer seats. We will also begin mapping out the 2011 activities calendar.

December 9th
“End of Year Wrap Up”

Wrap up any unfinished club business, the next year’s events and of course Holiday Cheer

Past 2009 Events:

January 8th
“Annual Members-Dinner”

February 12th
“Carving Techniques”
Ron showed club members various carving techniques using hand and power tools.

March 12th
“Soil and Repotting”

At the March meeting we will focus on repotting your trees and the different soil make-ups for different types of trees. We will also discuss the benefits of proper fertilization, and the components that make up common plant fertilizer.

April 9th
“Bring what’s thawed out”
As spring starts to pop, some trees are ready for attention. Bring in your tree(s) to work on in a group setting. Ask questions, get advice & have fun. We will also discuss proper dressing of cuts/wounds and the benefits of cut paste and wound sealer.

May 14th
“Propagation Techniques; focus on air layering”

Air Layering is a time honored form of plant propagation. Ron, club president, will give a demonstration on one of his Japanese Maples. Also, as we get ready for our annual show on May 16th and 17th, we will discuss proper display for bonsai shows, how to clean your pots and any last minute business before the weekend show

May 16–17th (Annual Show)
On May 16th and 17th the club members will be displaying their best trees. Demonstrations by club members will be held at 11 am and pm both days. All visitors will be offered the opportunity to vote on their favorite tree. Results will appear here. Admission to the show is free; however, we do accept donations. More Information…

June 11th
“Hands-on Workshop”

The club will hold a workshop this evening that will run until 9 pm. Participants can purchase plant material to work on – either Kingsville Boxwood (Buxus microphylla compacta) or Shimpaku Juniper (Juniperus chinesis).  The event will be open to the public, but club members have priority seating. If you are not working on a tree, this is still a wonderful opportunity to watch others as they prune, style and wire trees. However, it’s also a chance to get your hands on mature bonsai material. The boxwoods have an estimated age of 15-20 years old and the boxwoods are about 5-10 years old. The trees were lovingly brought up as potential bonsai at Brussel’s Bonsai Nursery in Olive Branch, MS. These are not shrubs that you’d want to put in the ground, they have been given extra special attention to their pruning from the time they were seedlings in order to send them on their way to becoming bonsai masterpieces.

Please contact if you are interested. Materials can be bought on site, the cost for trees is $80 each – SUPPLIES ARE LIMITED.

Note:This workshop will be focusing on pruning and styling only. We will not be repotting (that is recommended for March or April). There will be a follow-up meeting early next spring when we will repot these trees into proper bonsai containers

July – no meeting

August 13th
“State Fair Field Trip”
For August, the club will be taking a group trip to the WI State Fair in Milwaukee. The state fair has a bonsai display in the Horticulture Building with approximately 20-30 show quality trees. MEETING AGENDA: View and critique the Bonsai on display, observe the judges critiques and try to see what the judges saw. Hope to see you there!

September 10th
“Work on your own tree(s)”
Please bring in your own tree(s) to work on. With fall just around the corner, September can be a good time to do some last minute pruning, wiring and winter preparation. Remove wire before it cuts the bark, remove undesirable branches to conserve energy next spring. All club members are encouraged to bring at least one tree to work on and visitors are welcome to bring in a tree and ask for advice. This is a great opportunity for novices to pick up new skills and information.

October 8th
“Discuss Winter Preparation”

Bring in your own tree(s). Leaves are falling so the cold is coming! In October, we will discuss overwintering techniques for WI bonsai. What might work in California just won’t keep a bonsai alive through a Wisconsin Winter. And remember, next moth is officer elections. October is a good time to put your name in the hat for next month.

November 12th
“Officer Election/Year End Business/Plan 2010 Events”

This is the yearly business meeting for the club. We hold nominations/elections for officer seats. Our club president is stepping down from his post after 2009, creating a unique opportunity for someone to fill the roll. We will also begin mapping out the 2010 activities calendar.

December 10th
“o Tannenbaum”

Join us as we take in the holiday cheer and try to shake off the cold. If you haven’t offered your bonsai protection from the WI winter, do not delay any longer! As most things are frozen solid in Wisconsin during December, we bonsai enthusiasts are left to do things like eat cookies and talk about next spring. Sure, there’s tropical plants to work on, but who wants to risk the elements?*