Bonsai tree: A Bonsai Snapshot in Time

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bonsai tree: A Bonsai Snapshot in Time

One of the famous old ’Chabo-hiba’Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa, Chabo-hiba) at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum. This one was dates back to 1787 and it looks like it’s still in the original pot.

Snapshot in time

The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection (the first bonsai collection in North America that is still living), resides in Boston at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. Aside from the fact that it’s very old and the trees (some of them, at least) are still alive, this collection represents something quite unique; a living snapshot of Japanese bonsai from 100 years ago. Well almost; nothing living is static and the trees shown here are no exception. Over time, they continued to grown and mature and were pruned and repotted by a long line of curators. Still, as far as I know, no major restyling has taken place since the collection arrived in Boston in 1913, and much of the original look and feel of the trees remains from that time.

The Remarkable Journey of the Oldest Bonsai in America

If you’d like to dig into the history of the Larz Andersen collection, I heartily recommend this excellent article by Peter Del Tredici, former curator of the collection. You could also check out this Bonsai Bark post from last year, or, best of all, you could visit the Arnold Arboretum. It’s a trip worth making for anyone who loves trees, large or small.

Another old ’Chabo-hiba’Hinoki cypress in a well-chosen modern pot. Some of the pots have survived to this day, but many were lost due to freezing.

Japanese maple cultivar in fall color (though I like the choice of pots on the other trees shown here, I’m not so sure about this one).

Japanese white pine.

A piece of one of the original Hinokis that was saved after an uninvited split in the trunk. For the whole story see Peter Del Tredici’s article.

Slanting Hinoki cypress.

Source: Bonsai Bark


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