Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bonsai!


Next up at the US National Arboretum is the National Bonsai & Penjiang Museum. I had no idea such a thing existed, but they have a very impressive collection of very tiny trees. These aren't the same as the bonsai trees you see for sale at some stores or local plant shows. These are champion specimens, raised by some of the finest practitioners of the art of miniaturization. And there is one tree in the collection that stands above all the others, even though it's only two feet tall, but I'm going to save that one until the end. The collection was split up into a Chinese collection (the Penjiang part of the name, which seems to predate Bonsai), the Japanese part, and then an American section. I didn't do a good job of keeping track of what I shot where, so it's just going to be a collection of random pictures here.

















As I mentioned earlier, the last two pictures above are of the same tree, and it's a very special tree. I had to read the ID tag for it more than once. And then I thought it was a typo, but I asked and I was assured it was correct. This tree has been growing under the care of a bonsai master since 1625.  That's right, 385 years!  And that's not counting the time it may have spent in the wild before it was collected.  I can't even imagine anything that old.  And in all that time, it's only been allowed to grow to it's present height of about 30".  That's dedication on the part of a very long string of gardeners.  I also read online that this tree was in Hiroshima during the atomic blast in 1945.  I didn't hear that at the Arboretum, so take it with a grain of salt.

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