22 February, 2012

Bonsai; bōn-ˈsī

Bonsai; bōn-ˈsī: a potted plant (as a tree) dwarfed (as by pruning) and trained to an artistic shape; also : the art of growing such a plant  Merriam-Webster Definition

This Sunday I developed a much greater appreciation for the art of bonsai on our visit to the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection located south of Seattle in Federal Way, WA.  We spent over an hour with our wonderful guide Scarlett who was kind enough to answer the questions of our small group of 3 on a cold day where toes freeze and noses run.  The collection is breathtaking and each tree, grove and forest has a story.  We learned many interesting facts about these pieces of art and nature.  For example, each bonsai has a date of origin and the date they became a bonsai.  A tree becomes a bonsai when the artist begins its manipulation, this can be a seedling they sprouted themselves or a tree that has been growing in the wild.  Some of the trees are decades old before they become bonsai.  The photos below taken with my broken camera and frozen fingers don't do these living pieces of art justice but they'll give you an idea.

Trident Maple Acer buergerianum                            

Shimpaku Juniper Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii

Japanese Beech Fagus crenata

Formosan Juniper Juniperus formosana
Note the dead white wood and the live brown wood.  This technique was displayed several times and the results are beautiful. 

Catlin Elm Ulmus parvifolia

Coast Redwood Sequoia sempervirens
Our friend Blake standing next to a redwood bonsai! (I want one)

We will be going back in a few months when flowers are blooming and in the fall when the leaves change color, I can't wait!  We were told that only half of their collection is on display at any one time so there may even be some different trees.  I'll go ahead and say this is one of the best things I've seen on our recent travels.  My love for trees drives my desire to have one in my house.  Maybe if I start now I'll be able to successfully raise, train and care for a bonsai by the time I retire.  This hobby would take a lot of commitment.

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