The Most Famous Bonsai Tree Gardens Around the World
A Bonsai garden is a beautiful sight to behold, with carefully curated and unique trees providing breathtaking views. Although the art of Bonsai has Asian origins, not all of the trees are where you might expect. Yes, there are some truly beautiful specimens in Japan, but you can find some of the most stunning trees in other countries across the globe.
Let’s take a trip around the world to discover where to find the most famous bonsai trees that you need to visit at some point in your lifetime.
Omiya Bonsai Art Museum Bonsai Garden, Omiya, Japan.
If you want to see and learn about a huge collection of bonsai trees in one space, the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum is the place to go. You can learn all about bonsai techniques and tips through regular exhibitions, fairs, and workshops.
There are also hundreds of bonsai displays to enjoy, including a section of indoor bonsai displays you can meander through on your way to the main bonsai garden.
It’s home to one of Japan’s famous bonsai trees, the white pine “Higurashi”. At approximately 450 years old, it’s one of the oldest in the collection and has been in training since 1933. The tree is so significant that the museum has even made it their symbol.
Akao Rose and Herb Garden, Atami, Japan.
This beautiful bonsai garden spans a whopping 163 acres and sits 230 metres above sea level. It’s also where you’ll find the Red Pine Bonsai, a tree so big it needs its own support structure. At just over 16 feet tall and 30 feet wide, it’s easy to see why it needs a little extra help!
Of course, no bonsai tree would be complete without its pot. But this one enjoys its own special planter bed installation amongst the beautiful zen landscape. The tree is over 600 years old and a feature of this award-winning garden that also boasts 100,000 tulips and more than 600 species of rose.
University of Michigan Bonsai Garden, Michigan, USA.
The full name for these beautiful gardens is the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, which sit in different parts of the University campus. The Bonsai and Penjing collection currently has around 75 masterpiece trees that are rotated for display.
The University received a donation of stunning azaleas, bringing the outdoor space to capacity. But such is the dedication of the volunteers that a new area has been created in the conservatory to host even more bonsai displays.
You can see a mixture of species in these free-to-enter gardens, including the traditional Japanese maples, elms, and azaleas, blended with native larches and white cedars. It creates a truly show-stopping display that is an absolute must for any bonsai enthusiast.
Tokyo Imperial Palace Collection, Tokyo, Japan.
While it’s not a specific bonsai garden, these vast gardens play host to a national treasure, the Sandai Shogun no Matsu. It’s one of Japan’s most famous bonsai trees and is over 500 years old.
The striking 5-needle bonsai tree was first owned by Shogun Tagawa Iemitsu, which is where the name stems from. Rumour has it that he enjoyed looking after it so much that he put more time and effort into its care than his actual role as shogunate, a high-ranking military and governmental position.
During the second world war, the bonsai tree suffered years of neglect which palace staff are still trying to remedy to this day. Now it’s enjoying extensive care from the Imperial House Staff, it’s still an absolute beauty that should last for many centuries to come.
Crespi Bonsai Museum, Milan, Italy.
You’ll find more than 200 trees at this awe-inspiring Italian bonsai haven. One of the museum’s famous bonsai trees is particularly worth a visit: The Crespi Ficus.
It’s believed to be one of, if not the oldest bonsai tree in the world at 1000 years old. It takes pride of place in the museum, so it needs a special pot to match its credentials. It lives in the world’s biggest bonsai pot, which is a feat in itself but even more incredible when you learn it was made and fired as a single piece.
Even though we know a thing or two about repotting bonsai trees, that’s one job we’d happily stay away from!
The overall look of the Crespi Ficus is an impressive sight. At 10 feet tall, the tree is beautifully balanced with entwining aerial roots holding up a structure of greenery and branches.
National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, Washington DC, USA.
The museum is part of the National Arboretum and has a variety of displays, including the Japanese, Chinese and North American collections. There’s even a viewing stones collection, which is an art form linked to bonsai in the way they embrace respect towards nature.
Of course, each garden needs a crown jewel, and one of the famous bonsai trees here is the Yamaki Pine, aka “The Bonsai Who Lived”. The tree was only 2 miles from Hiroshima when the devastating “Little Boy” bomb was dropped. Miraculously, it survived the blast and everything that happened afterward.
The Yamaki Pine is a strong and resilient type of pine, so it’s prized for bonsai training. This particular specimen has been in training since 1625 and was gifted to the USA in 1975 by a bonsai master from the Yamaki family. Today, the nearly 400-year-old tree acts as a symbol of peace and friendship after the hardships it’s endured.
There are many famous bonsai trees scattered across the globe, far too many for us to capture in one list. But if you love the art of bonsai, a dedicated bonsai garden is a great place to go and soak up some inspiration.
If you’re just starting out on your bonsai journey, we’ve got everything you need to know about your tool kit essentials and have compiled a list of the best bonsai trees for beginners to help you on your way.