Thursday, December 4, 2008

Knee High to a Chinaman

While my sister was visiting, we went to see one of the few DC attractions that has eluded me over the past 8 years: The National Arboretum's Bonsai collection. The Arboretum is a favorite oasis of mine but somehow I've always managed to time my visits when the Bonsai Museum is closed. Apparently optimal Bonsai growing requires that they keep Banker's hours.

But now, I'm rather glad I hadn't seen this exhibit before because seeing it when the Bonsai were in their vibrant, but tiny, Fall glory was totally awesome. When thinking of Bonsai I generally assumed they were some sort of evergreen tree. But NO! They can be anything!! Tiny tree sculpting belongs to ALL Tree Races.

Check out this wee little Japanese Maple. (OK horticulturists, if I get these names wrong you're gonna have to just deal. I ain't no garden pro.)

And here's a teensie little ... um ... Birch? Or maybe another brand of maple? I can't really remember and its so little I can't use my eagle gardener eyes to tell -- as I usually would -- based on leaf shape. Anyway, it's a yellow-leafed deciduous tree which is WAY little and WAY PRETTY!

Inside the greenhouse is a little myrtl. I really really love myrtl. Isn't it so pretty? And Don't you love how they grafted in that chunk of white wood? Those bonsai artists are so clever!

And look who's hanging out here: Eeensie Weensie Chinamen! Don't they look wise? These little fellows are about the size of my thumbnail, and are hidden cleverly as a little treat for the observant.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that everyone of these trees is at least 50 years old? There's even a white pine (that I didn't picture here because we're showing decidous trees, people) that is FOUR HUNDRED YEARS OLD. Crazy, I know. But true. That tree was alive when Shakespeare was around!

Anyway. LOVED my trip to see the Bonsai! AND I'm even more dedicated to keeping my cactus plant alive now. (I wonder if you can do cactus bonsai.)


erinmalia said...

those sure are beautiful.

i think the chinamen look scheming.

Joseph said...

Since bonsai is Japanese, don't you think those little men are Japanese? China does not equal Japan.

Gretchen said...

Joseph, yes, bonsai is japanese. I know. But Japanman just doesn't have the ring to it that Chinaman has. And I *think* some of these trees were from China too. That's how I'm justifying my racial insensitivity anyway.

Erin said...

They really are quite delightful! Thanks for sharing.

Sandra said...

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this. Now I have a new place to go visit in DC.