Pacific Bonsai Museum

The Pacific Bonsai Museum is one of the best public bonsai gardens in the US.  It was previously called the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, owned by the Weyerhauser company. Last year, the whole collection was transferred to and under the care of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, and was renamed the Pacific Bonsai Museum. It is located in Federal Way, about 25 miles south of Seattle, Washington.  The collection had been curated by David de Groot for the last 25 years since the collection started, but he had recently retired.  Majority of the trees are displayed outdoor on concrete benches with large beige color walls as backdrops, similar to displays in a bonsai show but on a much more expansive scale. Tropical bonsai are kept in a greenhouse. Besides Japanese bonsai, the collection tries to include representative bonsai and penjing from other countries, such as China, Taiwan, Korea, Canada and bonsai by US artists; it, therefore, provides a broad perspective of the art, befitting a museum. The garden is in a wooded area, the atmosphere is tranquil; one can sit back and quietly enjoy the bonsai.


The first tree that greets visitors to the garden is a large Sierra Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis). As in a bonsai show, the garden has two of their best trees located at the beginning and at the end of the walk path. The last tree at the exit is a very large and outstanding Korean Yew from the Yoo Collection of Korea. The trunk of this juniper is very powerful with a swirling shari, the live vein extends to the back but is visible only as a thin slice of bark in the front.  This must be a collected yamadori. Kenneth Sugimoto of California grafted Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinesis var. sargentii) scions to the tree in 1970.  The original foliage had been completely replaced by the fine shimpaku scale foliage.

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