Bonsai World 2011

3 – 4 September 2011

K2 Centre, Crawley, Sussex

How can we best report on this extraordinary event, which like ‘The Best of British Bonsai’ back in April managed to capture probably the best and hottest two weekends of the summer - somebody must be looking after us. This was probably the most ambitious event staged on the UK Bonsai Scene for many years, Sussex Bonsai Group had chosen an extraordinary venue, the K2 leisure complex, an enormous and prestigious centre lined up to be used during the 2012 GB Olympics. The great size and first class quality of lighting gave The Sussex Group tremendous scope for an imaginative use of space.

It was not just simply a bonsai event as it encompassed a selection of Japanese cultural activities from martial arts through the full range to gardens and Ikebana; there was scope for everyone’s interest. The main exhibition comprised of exhibits from 15 societies, 11 individuals as well as stands displaying their wares from 15 bonsai related Traders.

With such a variation of people and societies exhibiting there was of course a considerable diversity in the quality of material exhibited. There were some absolutely first class, amazing trees being exhibited including the overall winning tree from ‘Best of British Bonsai 2011’. However the dominance of Societies did mean that quite a few of the trees were very far below National standard. This did mean that a great many bonsai enthusiasts had their trees on view to the public and you may say ”were encouraged by this”. But I remain of the school that says a National Exhibition should show what we are truly capable of and what good bonsai look like. The less finished trees should stay at home until the owners have progressed a little further - maybe next time. However, overall, an excellent exhibition that gave visitors a lot to see and a variety to purchase from.

With all this amazing space available is it not surprising that there was also a great variety of bonsai demonstrations and other Japanese activities to fill your time. The demonstrators were headed up by Marc Noelanders from Belgium, always a great draw at these events with his easy relaxed style, excellent English and the results he produces from whatever material he is presented with. Marc was joined by fellow demonstrators John Armitage, Ken Norman (well known as a member of the Sussex Group) and Ramon Hamers. All these together with a plethora of Japanese cultural talks and demonstrations made this a weekend filled with activity and interest.

At the end of the weekend awards were presented to;-

  • Ian Stewardson for Best Large tree and Best in Show
  • John Armitage for Best Shohin
  • Amelia Williams for Best Mame
  • Ann and Ken Norman for Best Group
  • Tracy Morton for Best and pot combination
  • Swindon Bonsai Society for the Best Society Stand.

None of all this could have been achieved without a great deal of hard work and input from Sussex Bonsai Group so “well done Sussex, thanks for a very enjoyable weekend”. Thanks must go also the sponsors upon whom we all depend for that vital ingredient, funding. Thanks to Kaizen Bonsai, The Sasakawa Foundation, and to The Federation of British Bonsai Societies for their invaluable input.  

Overall views of the event


Winning group –Cryptomeria 
Ann & Ken Norman

Best tree in Show – Korean Hornbeam
Ian Stewardson

Best tree and pot – Tracy Morton
Scots pine

Shohin winner – John Armitage

Winning Society Display
Swindon Bonsai Society

Mame award winner
Amelia Williams

Marc Noelanders demonstrates

Marc Noelanders demonstrates

Marc Noelanders demonstrates

Ken Norman demonstrates

Ken Norman demonstrates

John Armitage Ramon Hamers