Member Handbook

Welcome to the Minnesota Bonsai Society. We pride ourselves on being one of the largest and most active bonsai societies in the country. This guide will introduce you to the programs and activities of the Society. All members are welcome to participate in any activity.


A one-year membership is $40 for one or two members of the same household. A renewal reminder will be sent near the end of your term. Your membership includes access to all MBS functions, activities, and the library. MBS members are assigned a member number, which will be sent to you on joining. The member number is used for identification purposes if you show trees at a public event or sell items at our auctions, so be sure to keep track of it. Your number also appears on your MBS name tag.

For security reasons we do not publish a membership list. Should you have questions about the membership or need help finding your member number, contact the membership chair at


The society’s mailing address is:

Minnesota Bonsai Society
P.O. Box 454
Lake Elmo, Minnesota 55042

General Meetings

Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month (there is no meeting in January) at Hamline United Methodist Church, 1514 Englewood Ave., St. Paul. Our meetings are open to members, their guests, and all visitors. The doors open at 6:30. Meetings start at 7:00 and generally last about 2 hours. See the main menu page for a description of upcoming meeting topics.


Programs during the year include auctions of bonsai material, demonstrations by professional bonsai artists, interactive workshops, and social events. Feel free to take pictures, question the speakers, and generally participate.


Our extensive library is available at the general meetings to members only. Not all materials are available at every meeting, so ask the librarian about books, dvds or magazines of particular interest to you. You may check out materials for one month. You will be asked to guarantee their return with a credit card number which will be not be processed unless the materials are not returned.


There are usually vendors at meetings selling soil, tools, pots, and sometimes trees. Come early or shop during the mid-meeting break. Please be respectful of the program speaker and keep conversations and transactions brief and quiet during the program presentation. You may use cash, checks, or MC/Visa cards for MBS activities. Not all vendors accept credit cards.

Name Tags and T-shirts

We offer T-shirts, caps and other merchandise with the MBS logo for purchase through the LandsEnd website. See the Members’ Section of the front page of the newsletter on the Main Menu.


We hold a raffle at most monthly meetings. All proceeds go to the MBS treasury and donations are welcome. Bring in a tree to show off at a meeting and get a free raffle ticket.

Newsletter and Website

The bi-monthly newsletter is published electronically on the website and includes information about upcoming programs and events, official business and announcements, and MBS contact information, along with stories and pictures from past events and articles about various bonsai topics. The site also includes maps and directions to society events and the annual calendar. If you would like to submit articles or pictures to the newsletter or website, please contact the editor at

Shows and Exhibits

We have two formal bonsai exhibits during the year. Our Mother’s Day show is held at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park on the Saturday and Sunday of Mother’s Day weekend. Any member may bring trees, and all skill levels are welcome. This show is not judged.

Our largest show is held at the State Fair, where we exhibit on the Friday and Saturday of Labor Day weekend. This is a Fair event and open to anyone wishing to exhibit, including nonmembers. The show is judged and critiqued by a visiting bonsai professional hired by MBS, and awards are given. A special Novice Class is open to members with fewer than three years’ experience. Written critiques are provided for all trees and let you benefit from the expertise of a professional bonsai artist.

We encourage all members to exhibit and volunteer at shows. We can always use help with setup and tear down, and members also work at the shows to answer visitors’ questions about bonsai and MBS. This is a great way to share your enthusiasm and knowledge. Newer members are welcome—remember, even as a beginner you know more than most members of the public. Look for sign-up sheets at the general meetings.

From time to time we are asked to participate at other events. These will be announced at meetings and in the newsletter.


MBS sponsors a spring and fall auction every year as part of our program schedule. A wide variety of hard-to-find material is offered, including styled trees, raw plant material, tools, pots, books, and supplies, at both a live auction and a silent auction. Auctions are open to the public, but only members are allowed to offer items for sale. Sellers pay a 15% commission to MBS. Check the newsletter for complete seller instructions. Cash, checks, and Master Card and Visa are accepted.

Workshops and Classes

Bonsai Basics Class

Every year the Society offers free entry level classes for members. We call it Bonsai Basics. The class meets monthly, usually on the third Tuesday of the month, for about 9 months. Classes cover the basic concepts of bonsai, from wiring to wintering. These meetings are conducted by experienced society members who are happy to share their expertise. Attendance is voluntary; pick and choose the meetings of interest to you. We find most people new to bonsai will want to attend most meetings. At the end of the class year your group may want to form a study group to continue learning on its own. This is a wonderful way to form friendships within the Society.

Intermediate Class

The Bonsai Intermediate class is a perfect way for members who have attended the Bonsai Basics classes and have mastered beginner’s level techniques to further develop their skills and progress to the next level as a bonsai artist. Even more experienced members will benefit from the ability to study a topic in-depth and have a chance to work on their trees in a group setting. The class is held on the third Thursday of each month. (Classes are not held in December and January)

Novice Workshops

Novice Workshops are how most of us got started. These workshops are taught by society members and are open to the public. The cost is $75 and includes a tree, pot, supplies, classroom instruction and one year membership to the Minnesota Bonsai Society. If you haven’t taken one yet, it’s a great hands-on learning experience. If you have, volunteer to help teach new students!

Bonsai Professional Workshops

The Society hosts two bonsai professionals each year to conduct programs and workshops for members. Programs are presented at the general meetings and workshops are held on weekends, usually in 3- or 4-hour sessions. Upcoming workshops will be announced at the meetings and in the newsletter, and there will be sign-up sheets available at the meetings as well as registration on-line. Space is usually limited to 6 working members per workshop, so sign up early.

The Society underwrites the majority of the cost and participants pay a modest fee, usually around $55 for a bring-your-own-material workshop. A limited number of silent observer spaces are available for a nominal fee of $15. These workshops are an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best bonsai artists. They are here to teach, and members are encouraged to participate regardless of skill level. Bring your own tools and wire.

In addition to society-sponsored workshops, visiting professionals may have time available for private instruction. If you or your study group is interested in booking time with an instructor, contact the website administrator for more information.

Picnic, Holiday Party, Annual Banquet, and Members Tour

The Society sponsors various social events throughout the year. Check the website and newsletter for this year’s events and dates.

The summer picnic is usually held in July, and sometimes replaces the July general meeting. This is a potluck social affair, and you are welcome to bring your family. The society usually grills burgers and brats and provides buns, condiments, drinks, and table service. You bring a favorite dish to share.

The members’ tour is an opportunity to visit the collections of various members. The tour usually includes three or four homes and is held on a weekend during the summer.

We have a holiday party as our December meeting. This is also when board elections are held. MBS furnishes sandwich and veggie trays and beverages. Members bring a favorite dish to share.

Our annual banquet is generally held in January, when there is no monthly meeting. The event includes dinner, a cash bar, and usually a fund-raising raffle or auction.

Study Groups

Many private bonsai study groups have been formed by Society members. These are groups of people wishing to explore the art more deeply. While most of them are made up of MBS members these groups are not sponsored by the Society. We do encourage private groups of this nature and will cooperate as much as possible to promote the art of bonsai.

The typical study group is made up of a limited number of people wishing to pool their resources to work together and learn more about bonsai. They may hire a visiting professional for a private workshop, go on field trips to collect trees, conduct their own workshops, or socialize. Many study groups are formed by classmates from the Tuesday evening Bonsai Basics classes. Membership in study groups is usually by invitation. If you want to participate in a study group and can’t find one, consider starting your own.

Questions or Comments

If you have questions about MBS or would like more information, feel free to talk to someone at a meeting or send an e-mail with your comments, program suggestions, or feedback to the website administrator.

Members are also welcome to attend board meetings, which are held on the fourth Tuesday of the month (see the website for time and location). If you have business you would like to discuss at a board meeting, please contact the president and ask to be added to the agenda.

MBS is a volunteer organization, and member participation is what has made us one of the biggest and best clubs in the country. Welcome, and enjoy your membership.