Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Currently Closed
10:00 am to 4:30 pm

Free Admission

1800 N. Dixboro Rd, Ann Arbor, MI

Many personalities make
each tree special.

Rocks heighten the drama.

Their shape and texture as well as how the plants interact with them evoke cliffs, edges of waterfalls, rocky sea-shores, and other wild places in nature where the elements rage.

Figurines specify and animate the narrative.

They are rarely to sparingly used in bonsai (the Japanese tradition) and more frequently seen in penjing (the Chinese tradition).

Water is very challenging to include.

That’s why it is usually implied rather than physically present. Water is nearly impossible to present as miniaturized, it is always level, and it has to be kept from drowning the tree.

Stands lift the bonsai above the display table.

This ‘lift’ helps visually isolate and focus the bonsai for the viewer. Stands contribute to the spirit of the entire composition without calling undue attention to themselves.

The tree is the star.

There are many styles, and some styles require more than one tree in the pot. A special treat for flowering species is those few days they are in bloom.

Flowers and leaves are essential

The flowers elevate the specimens beyond ‘awesome’ – our azaleas are respected as among the best in the world. Once done blooming, flowering species return to being ‘every day beautiful’.

Other deciduous trees, especially maples and beeches, are known for their stunning fall foliage season, and then they assume yet another appeal when dormant. Part of enjoying bonsai is appreciating what you see today in relation to nature’s annual cycle.

The pot intensifies the mood.

The shape, size, texture, glaze colors, and patterns are intentionally selected to complete the narrative. Just changing the pot can dramatically shift one’s appreciation of the tree. Since the trees are slowly growing, they can outgrow any given pot over time.

Did you know that when not on display, the trees may be removed from the pots and grown in shallow wooden boxes? This way the pots are available for other trees, and are not damaged during routine care when a tree is not in display mode.

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.

Caretaker working with a bonsai tree