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Bonsai in Boston
The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection

This collection is part of the Harvard University Arnord Arboretum

This collection bonsai is really a rare thing here in North America. Many of the bonsai were imported from Japan in 1913. The oldest plant in the collection is a Chabo Hiba that was started in 1737 which makes it 274 years old this year (2011).

Wonderful collection that has had some ups and downs in its 100 year history while at the Arboretum including some losses of plants for various reasons including theft!

If you want to learn more about the story of these Bonsai there is a wonderful pdf on the Harvard site called "From Temple to Terrace: The remarkable Journey of the Oldest Bonsai in America"


The GazeboI read a thing on the Harvard website that tells the long story of these bonsai which includes things like how nobody really knew how to care for the bonsai decades ago. And because of this (and other reasons) they lost some of the originals. They also had a break in during a long weekend in the 80's and six of the bonsai were stolen! Yikes. Now that is something that doesn't get stolen every day. Well, now they keep the whole batch of them under a kind of lock and key. You can see them and enjoy them but you can't really get close to them. That's ok though. It's a wonderful collection.

Traditional Japanese bonsai masters say that it is usually best to keep bonsai in some kind of outdoor environment where they get spackled light. And this is where the collection is housed; in a slatted gazebo which is about perfect. So they get plenty of indirect sunlight but the direct sunlight is intermittent. The picture here on the right shows the slatted gazebo.

Below is a picture of the oldest bonsai in the collection. It is a 274 Year old Chabo Hiba. It was started in 1737.

Chabo Hiba Bonsai

The whole collection is very traditional and very japanese. For the most part they are uprights or informal uprights. They do have one cascade though. It is quite a good looking tree though.

And they have some trees that are, to my mind, simply magnificent. Like this Chinese Elm

This Japanese Maple:

I generally find the Japanese Maples to be among my favorites. But in this collection this elm was my absolute favorite:


The Whole experience of the Bonsai Collection was wonderful. I had a really good day and really enjoyed it all. The whole arboretum makes for a wonderful day trip. It is kind of like a botanical gardens but a botanical gardens will focus more on flowers while an arboretum focuses on trees! The grounds have an amazing collection of trees. I couldn't begin to list them but I really did like the cork trees :)

If you want to learn more about the Harvard Arnold Arboretum their website is here: Arnold Arboretum and their section about the bonsai collection is here: The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection.



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