Most people don’t realize that there are bonsai all around us – possibly even in a museum near you. Here are some of the best exhibits across America for enthusiasts and admirers alike to visit:
The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum
Location: Washington, DC
This exhibit in the nation’s capital was established in 1976 and is considered the premier destination for those interested in the art-form. Located in the United States National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., the exhibit boasts many beautiful specimens including the famous 390 year old tree that survived the Hiroshima explosion. Don’t miss this expansive display of Chinese, Japanese, and American subjects.
The Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt
Location: Oakland, CA
This exhibit in Oakland, CA is maintained by the Golden State Bonsai Federation and contains an impressive collection of literally hundreds of trees, from Trident Maple and Korean Hornbeam to Redwoods and Shimpaku Junipers. The list is exhaustive, and there is something for virtually every enthusiast in this beautiful, colorful collection.
Location: San Marino, CA
Admission: $10 (Kids) – $23-25 (Adults)
The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA is the second of the two exhibits maintained by the Golden State Bonsai Federation. The Huntington’s collection is considered one of the finest of its kind in the United States, and their ever-changing exhibit contains trees ranging from relatively young to around 1000 years old. The collection numbers in the hundreds, with a multitude of species. The trees span two peaceful courtyards, with the shohin collection residing against the soothing background of a beautiful water feature.
The North Carolina Arboretum
Location: Asheville, NC
Admission: $12 (Parking fee only)
The bonsai collection at the NC Arboretum is fairly new, having been established in 1992 upon the generous donation of a number of trees from a private donor. The Arboretum took off with the concept of a display and assigned caretakers to the precious trees. Since that time, the exhibit has grown to over a hundred specimens, including some cultivated from seeds or cuttings right onsite. The Arboretum takes particular pride in their local species, such as the Eastern White Pine and American Hornbeam, which represent the Blue Ridge region and allow the exhibit to retain a local flair.
Marie Selby Botanic Gardens
Location: Sarasota, Fl
Admission: $6 (Kids) – $19 (Adults)
The story of the Sho Fu Bonsai Exhibit at Selby in Sarasota, FL is an interesting one. The Sho Fu Bonsai Society approached Selby in 2007 with the idea of instituting a bonsai exhibit. It took two years and much negotiation and fundraising on the part of the society, but in 2009 the exhibit finally opened, appropriately timed during the Asian Festival. The display is small but elegant, and is a testament to the devotion and perseverance of enthusiasts. Volunteers from Sho Fu maintain the exhibit.
If you have the opportunity to visit one of these beautiful exhibits, you won’t be disappointed. It might even inspire you to donate a tree or two to your own local botanical gardens. As awareness and popularity of the art-form spread, more and more people will be exposed to bonsai through amazing displays like these.