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The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection

by Arnold Arboretum

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The Larz Anderson Collection of Japanese Dwarfed Trees at the Arnold Arboretum was originally imported into the United States by the Honorable Larz Anderson in 1913, upon his return from serving as ambassador to Japan. The core of the collection consists of seven large specimens of compact hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Chabo-hiba’)—each between 150 and 275 years old—that Anderson purchased from the Yokohama Nursery Company and later donated to the Arboretum. All told, thirty-five masterfully curated specimens comprise the bonsai collection. In much of Japan and milder parts of the US, bonsai can be left out-of-doors all winter with only minimal protection from the elements. In New England’s more severe climate, however, plants in containers need to be protected during the cold months. Arboretum bonsai are stored in a concrete-block structure that is maintained at between 33 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit, and the plants are checked for water once a week. The key to successful winter storage is to make sure that the plants are fully dormant before they go in and that they come out before they show any signs of growth. Generally speaking, our plants go into cold storage in November and come out in mid April, actual dates depending on weather and temperature. Records of the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection documents the history and maintenance of this collection. In April 1937, Isabel Anderson donated the majority of her late husband’s bonsai collection (30 plants) to the Arnold Arboretum, along with the funds necessary to build a shade house for their display. The rest of the Anderson bonsai came to the Arboretum following Isabel’s death in 1949.

The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection
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  • Category: Ecology
  • Language: English

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