The Dedication of the Matthaei Bonsai Garden, 2013
 By Jerry Meislik

In May of 2013 Rhona and I traveled back to Ann Arbor for the dedication of the new bonsai garden at the University of Michigan. This bonsai garden has been a dream of mine as well as many others who have been involved in the gardens. Many generous individuals have helped to bring this garden to reality. With the support of the Ann Arbor Bonsai Club and the Ft. Wayne Bonsai Club and many other local and regional bonsai clubs have been instrumental in making this garden a reality.

Bob Grese
JM, Rhona and Matthaei Botanical Gardens Director Bob Grese in front of the donor's plaque

5Needle Pine
Japanese Five needle pine

The dedication was extremely well attended with hundreds of visitors, supporters and well-wishers present for the ribbon cutting and the first ever public viewing of the garden.

Jack Wikle
Jack Wikle reviewing the history of the bonsai garden

It was also my first opportunity to see the garden in the flesh as contrasted to imagining the garden as represented with virtual architechtural renderings. I must say the garden is spectacular. There are now about 20+ bonsai on display at one time. The bonsai are set atop attractive wooden pedestals.The pedestals are nicely spaced so that the trees can be observed isolated from the other trees nearby.

The feeling that one gets in the garden is one of openness and serenity; conveyed in large part by the generous spaces for the observer to move around and to step back and view the bonsai. The backdrops for the bonsai are simple white surfaces that make the trees stand out and allow critical viewing as well as photography.

White backdrop
Jack Sustic's Trident maple in front of plain white backdrop

It is our hope that the future will see more great trees becoming part of the collection. The years ahead will show maturing of the landscape materials, inclusion of more stones to complement the garden. The current bonsai collection while very impressive will gather more age, maturity and grandeur.

There is space for a work area and behind it the nursery and "back yard" to hold bonsai not ready for exhibit or getting ready to move to the exhibit. And there is a nicely sized area right adjacent to it so that bonsai care and teaching can be done in full view of the public. There is enough space for twenty or more viewers.

It is also my hope that the garden's future will be a strong stimulus to bonsai education for all bonsai lovers in the midwest and to introduce the beauty of bonsai to the public at large.

The bonsai garden is open to the public and I invite you to visit and take part in the serenity of the garden and of course enjoy the bonsai.

PS there is still more money to be raised to ensure year by year care for the collection. If you can help please click here.



Carmen, Gayle
Carmen Leskoviansky(Collections Specialist), Gayle Steiner(Director of Development) watching the presentations

Weeping Cherry
Weeping cherry

Upright Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster upright style

Cotoneaster in a raft style

The assembled
Part of the audience watching the presentations

Ficus exotica
Dr. Melvyn Goldstein's Ficus 'Exotica'


Japanese Consul
Dr. Michener, Japanese Consul-General Matsuda and his wife

Jerry Meislik
JM addressing the bonsai supporters

Larch raft
Larch raft

Long view of the garden
One long view of the garden

Back storage area
Back storage and staging area

Area for viewing work
Spacious audience viewing area

Trident maple of Jack Wikle


Previous Page
All Rights Reserved © 2013 Jerry Meislik