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Our Garden
Learn more about our fast-growing world-class bonsai collection.

A World-Class Collection

Bonsai artists maintain and care for every tree in our garden.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens houses a permanent, dedicated bonsai and penjing garden. The garden is located behind the conservatory with an entrance from the perennial garden. The bonsai and penjing garden is free and open to the public and showcases much more of the collection than was previously possible.
Use the links above to learn more about our bonsai and penjing garden and our collection, or to explore the history, significance, and care of bonsai.

The current collection of bonsai and penjing at Matthaei Botanical Gardens numbers over 75. The collection began in 1977 with a gift of core specimens from the estate of Dr. Maurice Seevers, a former director of the University of Michigan Department of Pharmacology and an ardent bonsai lover.

Part of the collection now includes Satsuki bonsai azalea from donor and Michigan alumnus Dr. Melvyn Goldstein. For the past several years, Dr. Goldstein has generously shared his collection of Satsuki for a special display each June. These azaleas, prized in Japan, are a specialty of Goldstein’s. Eventually He plans to donate his complete collection of bonsai to Matthaei-Nichols. Pictured on this page is one of Goldstein’s Satsuki azalea.

One of our garden’s cascade bonsai trees.

This garden demonstrates the truly international scope of bonsai today. Combining our mission of using native plants with an ancient art form that often focuses on materials from Asia, our current collection of more than 70 trees represents traditional Japanese and Chinese styles along with American and European influences. With its beautifully hand-crafted display stands and generous spaces the garden allows us to display much more of our collection than previously possible.

Additionally, a working bonsai studio is integrated into the garden. The studio provides opportunities for professionals and volunteers to maintain the bonsai plants in full view of the public.

The Bonsai and Penjing Garden is located behind the Conservatory with an entrance off the perennial garden. The garden is open daily 10 am-8 pm daily approximately May through Labor Day. You can also view a rotating selection of trees in the temperate house of the conservatory year-round. Visit our Hours & Directions page to learn more about our regular and summer hours, and more.

Because this living art form requires time-intensive care 365 days per year, we face the ongoing challenge of protecting the health and beauty of this collection. Dedicating this level of staff time requires funding of $32,000 per year. Your gift will make a difference. Other special recognition exists for gifts of at least $5,000. We value each gift. Give online now or contact Meredith Olson merolson@umich.edu / 734-647-7847.

Jerry and Rhona Meislik Bonsai Fund

Our stunning collection of over 60 bonsai and penjing trees requires time-intensive care, literally 365 days per year. Your donation helps maintain the health and beauty of this unique living collection.

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Moving to Leadership

A bold future beckons: engaging people new-to-bonsai while deepening our existing relationships and networks. Everything depends on our specimens being exemplary. As we on-board one of the continent’s most important private collections, we’ll be refining our existing collection and expanding our audiences. We need your help – spreading the word, coming to see the specimens through the year, learning more, and supporting us.

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