Was it worth driving for 21 hours and 1122 miles (1805 km) one way to participate in a bonsai show? The answer on this occasion is a resounding YES as THIS was no ordinary show. Arco Bonsai Club and UBI invited the cream of Italian (and invited guest… ME!) to the XVI° CONGRESSO UBI and XXVII° ARCOBONSAI.
Almost 100 trees were exhibited with sixty selected to be featured in the annual book. There were a few trees familiar to me but most were new trees that I had not seen before. As you would expect the majority of bonsai were Mediterranean species, Olives, Pines, Junipers and Myrtles however in the show were a few oaks, hawthorns (including mine) and beech. The exhibition was made up of many large and VERY large trees. I counted only 10 trees that were Chuhin or smaller. There was only one display of Shohin. The judging of the trees took EIGHT HOURS and was headed up by Enrico Savini, great care was taken as the previous year a lot of controversy surrounded the selection of prizes.
The venue is the Casinò Municipale (it’s NOT a Casino) in Arco, Trentino which is in the far north just south of the Austrian Border… and what a great venue! The exhibition halls are baroque and very ornate the demo rooms (15 Italian artists all working at the same time) were large and well lit. A huge bonus was a café/bar on site (Superb Coffee 1€) that was the meeting and chilling place for the event. When the sun did shine everyone sat out on the veranda.
Over 45 traders selling all things Bonsai filled the outdoor and the entrance to the show. Noticeably there was the very large amount of Yamadori sellers however the stock on sale was surprisingly poor…any real quality was over 2500€. There was a great selection of potters but NONE from the UK (see my opening sentence) Next year the show is in the south of Italy, this will add a further 800 miles to my journey! But when good coffee is only 1€ I’m not complaining.