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.




Side view and branch ramifications.


Japanese White Pine (Pinus parvilfolia) by Yasuo Mitsuya of Toyochasi, Japan.

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Japanese Maple


Japanese Beech (Fagus crenata ‘fuji’), from the Kazuhiro Ohashi collection in Japan, bonsai since 1958.


Root-over-Rock Trident Maple (Acer buergeranum)


San Jose Juniper (Juniperus chinenesis San Jose) saikei by Kazuo Yoneta, bonsai since 1982.

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Catlin Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) Forest by Melba Tucker, bonsai since 1983.

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Pear (Pyrus communis) by Dr. Bertram Bruenner of Seattle, bonsai since 1960.


Korean Hornbeam (Carpinus turzczaninovii) by Sae Won Kim of Korea, bonsai since 1979.


Exposed Roots Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia), originally from China by artist, Jui Wei Huang.  The tree is from the Robert Cho collection, Kent, Washington.


Firethorn (Pyracantha angustifolia) in blue glazed Cantonese Shekwan pot, by Mr. Cheen Chong Yea of Taiwan, bonsai since 1970.


Vaughn Banting’s flat-top Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum).


Japanese Red Pine (Pinus densiflora) by James Masao Nakahara of Seattle, bonsai since 1990.


Satsuki Azalea “Kakuo” by Hayato Nakayama of El Dorado Bonsai, Placerville, CA.

Professor Amy Liang, author of “Living Art of Bonsai”, from Taiwan, has two trees on display,

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Formosan Juniper (Juniperus formosanus) by Amy Liang, bonsai since 1962.


Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thurnbergii) by Professor Amy Liang of Taiwan.



Close-up of the Japanese Black Pine trunk and branch ramification.



American Larch (Larix laricina) by American artist, Nick Lenz. Bonsai since 1972.

There are about 100 trees on display. I took photos of all the trees, and could only show selected ones in this post.  I will select and show the tropical and temporary displays, and kusamono in future posts


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