Bonsai and Penjing
at Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Bonsai and penjing enjoy a rich history and tradition in Chinese and Japanese cultures and their popularity continues to grow internationally. With their unique qualities of art, design, horticulture, and meditative gardening, bonsai and penjing each year draw thousands of new devotees around the world.
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.
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. Visit our Hours & Direction page for information on regular and summer hours for our gardens, conservatory, and main building.
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.
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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