Donors Jerry and Rhona Meislik are well-acquainted with the recipe for bonsai success. First, build a permanent home for our bonsai and penjing collection. (Done; the garden opened last year at Matthaei.) Then, because this living art form needs continual care, take steps to protect the health and beauty of the collection—a dedicated effort requiring significant funding.

Above: Jerry and Rhona Meislik (left) stand with Matthaei-Nichols director Bob Grese and Jack Wikle moments after the ribbon cutting at last year’s opening of the Bonsai & Penjing Garden at Matthaei. The Meisliks seeded the endowment fund for the garden and are inspiring others to continue the endowment funding effort with a special matching challenge.

Ardent supporters of our collection and bonsai aficionados themselves, the Meisliks announced a dollar-for-dollar match challenge at the June 2014 Ann Arbor Bonsai Society program. The challenge will fund an endowment for the ongoing care of the bonsai and penjing collection at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. The Meisliks, who already seeded the bonsai garden endowment last year prior to the garden’s opening, will give up to $10,000 to match gifts of at least $500 that are given or pledged before November 25, 2014. “Our dream is that others will feel as passionate about the Matthaei-Nichols collection as we do,” Jerry says. “Now that the trees themselves have a permanent home, the next natural step is a commitment to caring for them, so we hope to inspire others to help make that happen. A matching challenge is a great way to double that commitment.”

The endowment specifically funds the care and maintenance of the collection. The endowment goal is $800,000, which will fund a half-time horticulture specialist, materials, and work with leading bonsai practitioners on bonsai artistry and health. Currently we’ve raised nearly 25% of that goal, about $167,000. To make a donation to this special bonsai challenge visit the Matthaei-Nichols website or call our director of development Gayle Steiner: 734.647.7847.