The already outstanding Matthaei-Nichols bonsai collection just got better.
A recent purchase of twelve trees from local bonsai teacher, demonstrator, lecturer, and bonsai guru Jack Wikle brings our collection to well over 50. Wikle, who has been active in the bonsai community for decades, also has long-standing ties to Matthaei-Nichols as a volunteer, bonsai adviser, and member of the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society.
Of particular interest in the new acquisitions are an American hornbeam group (Carpinus caroliniana) and a larch (Larix laricina) group. Both species are native trees.
The hornbeam, which dates to 1964, was Wikle’s second bonsai tree, says staff member Carmen Leskoviansky, who oversees the Matthaei-Nichols bonsai collection. “Hornbeam is special because it’s native, not traditional bonsai material, and more difficult to work with,” she says.
The larch forest resembles a miniature woods and sits atop a slab, a bonsai vessel that’s even shallower than the usual bonsai pot. While the Matthaei-Nichols bonsai collection has three other larch specimens, this is the first larch forest. As a woods in miniature the larch forest is convincing enough that it’s easy to imagine yourself in the midst of a Michigan tamarack bog. Such realism is what makes this acquisition particularly exciting, says Leskoviansky. 
The twelve news trees come from a collection many years in the making. Wikle, who turned 80 last winter, offered the collection for sale to several area organizations and individuals, including Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton, Mich. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Matthaei-Nichols. As bittersweet as saying goodbye to his bonsai must have been, Wikle says that he and his wife now see these trees, which were a big part of their lives, “bringing pleasure and inspiration to others in the years to come after we are gone.”
Many of the new additions and those from our permanent collection will be on display in the new bonsai and penjing garden currently under construction at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
A list of the twelve new trees:
Carpinus caroliniana Group (American hornbeam)
Carpinus caroliniana Single Trunk (American hornbeam)
Thuja occidentalis (white cedar)
Larix laricina Forest (American larch)
Hypericum kalmianum (Kalm St. John’swort)
Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)
Acer buergerianum (trident maple)
Carpinus koreana (Korean hornbeam)
Prunus subhirtella var. autumnalis (fall flowering Higan cherry)
Cotoneaster multiflorus (many-flowered cotoneaster)
Chaenomeles speciosa var. (flowering quince)
Tilia cordata (littleleaf linden)
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