Displaying Bonsai Trees
in an Exhibit

Displaying bonsai trees in a formal manner is as much of an art form as bonsai itself.  In the traditional 'three point' way of presenting bonsai . . . heaven, earth and man are symbolized by:

  • the scroll for heaven (or the spiritual goal)
  • the accent plant for the earth
  • and bonsai for man (or the harmony between heaven and earth)

Traditionally, artists often create the feeling of a scene or season in their arrangement. 

One of the least complicated introductions is:

‘How to Create a Bonsai Display’ by Andy Rutledge.

With simple drawings, Andy makes the layout concepts easy to understand.

Bonsai Display Stands

The bonsai display stand is important ... it emphasizes the bonsai. Quite often, it also raises the tree up off the table or bench. This is not unlike placing a painting on the wall.

The closer to eye level, the better it can be seen by observers. More and more clubs are also raising the foundation benches before draping them and using individual pedestals, for the same purpose.

See page on Bonsai Display Tables

Displaying Bonsai with Scrolls

There are many decorative scrolls available. 

Although there are expensive antique scrolls, you can find appropriate inexpensive Chinese and Japanese scrolls. 

They may be found in oriental gift and import stores, sometimes at art shows or if you're lucky a good garage sale!

Occasionally, the most detailed or colorful may be perfect for hanging alone on a wall, but it may be overwhelming in a bonsai display.

Remember, the scroll is not the focal point. Select carefully.

displaying bonsai,

The scrolls do not have to be a traditional Japanese scrolls.

One year, Miami, FL club member, Mieko Kubota, created several kanji panels for our annual exhibit.

Bonsai Accents

The accent or companion does not have to be a accent plant.

Although plants are most commonly used, an accent can also be a small sculpture, figurine or even a stone.

Companion Plant and container by Dan BartonFern Accent in Dan Barton 'pot'

Is All this Expensive?

By now you may be thinking, displaying bonsai sounds pretty expensive!  It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.  One of the favorite accent "stands" is a simple black, glazed ceramic circle.

At any show, in addition to traditional bonsai display stands, you may see bamboo placemats, wood slabs (painted and unpainted), porcelain tiles and even lamp bases.   

The bonsai display shown here, was created for one of the Bonsai Society of Miami’s annual exhibits. Fortunately it was on a pedestal, not a low table. 

Member Brian Saponaro carved the stand from a 4” x 4” block of construction wood.  He also made his own clay bonsai pot.

The tree was an inexpensive imported, upright Fukien Tea, which he totally restyled.

Brian added an inexpensive scroll and one of his bonsai figurines (fishing at the base of the mountain) to complete his scene.  Guests were impressed.

Important to Any Display

In addition to displaying bonsai in individual vignettes, the overall show design then needs to be coordinated by a knowledgeable chairperson with a great committee.  Each grouping is not just lined up in a hodge-podge manner ... and that is another study. 

Where to Go From Here

See more about displaying bonsai accent plants, beautiful bronzes and pots ... other examples of display on the Miniature Bonsai page.

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