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  • Writer's picturepeacelovebonsai

My Bonsai Bucket List

Since diving into Bonsai more than 5 years ago, I've had the great fortune of seeing and visiting many bonsai destinations. Being a student of Bjorn's and recently moving to Nashville, I've had the honor of visiting Eisei-en numerous times. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it! As I mentioned in my previous post about finding bonsai online, I have visited both Brussel's and Wigerts. And again, I recommend a visit if you are in the area. I've also seen bonsai in San Francisco, San Diego and the surprisingly fantastic collection at the arboretum in Asheville, NC. But there is so much more to see! So, without further ado, my current bonsai bucket list:

The Famous Japanese Maple at the PJG

Home to possibly the most famous Japanese maple in the US (At least the most photographed!), the Portland Japanese Garden is a world class garden nestled in the heart of Portland. Opened in 1967, the gardens feature more than just bonsai. There's a cultural village along with what I can only assume are stunning fall colors. I can't wait to visit!

After a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden, I'd be sure to check out Bonsai Mirai soon after. Also in the Portland area, Bonsai Mirai is home to the American bonsai artist Ryan Neil. Originally from Colorado and now living in the Pacific Northwest, Ryan works with my favorite types of trees, conifers. I've only heard great things about his garden and look forward to a visit of my own.

Probably Europe's most important and largest bonsai show, The Trophy is held in Belgium and brings together Europe's best bonsai. This show has been going for over 20 years and was one of the few major shows not canceled due to Covid in 2020. And Europeans have great Pinus Sylvestris yamadori, which we can't find here in the states. I'd love to see some up close and personal. (Here's a link to one by Mauro Stemberger that he shared on his Instagram recently, just amazing). Beyond the show, a trip to Belgium would be awesome.

A postcard picture of John Naka's Juniper
A postcard of Naka's Juniper

Located south of Seattle, the Pacific Bonsai Museum was opened in 1989 and ranks as one of America's best bonsai gardens. Home to some of American's best bonsai trees, the collection includes a fantastic Creeping Juniper by John Naka and an Eastern Larch by Nick Lenz. The Museum recently published "A Gallery of Trees", which I highly recommend. (Bonus, they have cool zoom backgrounds you can download)

Located in the US National Arboretum in Washington DC, the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum is probably the greatest collection of bonsai in American. Home to arguably American's most famous tree, John Naka's Goshin, the museum has a collection of over 300 specimen trees, including a white pine that survived the bombing of Hiroshima. As a bonus, I'd like to visit in the Spring to see the cherry blossom's of DC.

Tokoname Pottery
A pot from Tokoname

Ok, Japan could be it's own list. The mecca of bonsai, Japan could account for dozens of bucket list items, including world class gardens, shows, and nurseries. But for today's post, I'll keep it two. The first would be the Kokufu-ten, which is the most famous bonsai show in the bonsai universe. Held every February in Tokyo, the Kokufu is the gold standard of bonsai in the world. Second would be a visit to Tokoname village, home of some the best bonsai pottery in the world. While bonsai in the states has been going strong for 100 years, potters have been banging out pottery in Tokoname for over a thousand years!!

4th, 5th, and 6th US National Bonsai Exhibition Books
3 most recent US Nationals Books

While a trip to Japan would be at the top of many bonsai bucket lists, for me, the US National Bonsai Exhibition is number one. Our most prestigious bonsai show is where the best of US bonsai comes together. The brainchild of the Godfather of American Bonsai, William Valavanis, the show is currently being held every two years in Rochester, NY. After being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid, the next show is scheduled for September 2021. I'd like to not only go, but enter a tree into the exhibition. When I might have a tree worthy of that distinction is not currently known, but that's my ultimate bucket list goal!

So, there you go, my current bonsai bucket list. What's on your list? I'd love to hear about it and I'm sure I missed a few great bucket list items, so comment below and let me know what I should add! Be sure to follow me on Instagram for all my bonsai adventures!

Until next time, Peace Love Bonsai

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