Making anything miniature is hard. The trick is in the details, of course, which is why bonsai trees are one of the most unique and carefully cultivated species of plants. For over a thousand years, bonsai plants have captured the interest of botanists and artists around the world. Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing miniature trees in shallow containers; they’re tiny versions of real trees! The trick is in the art of trimming and using the pot and its surroundings to limit the trees’ growth.
Recently, when two magnificent bonsai trees were stolen from the Pacific Bonsai Museum in the state of Washington (yes, there’s a museum of bonsai trees!), museum authorities were more than a bit troubled. Bonsai trees can grow to be quite old, but even though these two trees were relatively young, they have two rather interesting historic stories behind them. One of the trees, a Japanese black pine, was grown by a Japanese American when he was in a Japanese prisoner camp during World War II. It was the first bonsai tree known to museum experts that was grown in the United States from within a prisoner camp. The other tree started growing in the 1940s and was cultivated by a Japanese female bonsai artist. What was unusual about it? Women bonsai artists were unheard of at that time, as men predominantly practiced the art. The museum promised that they would not ask any questions of or press charges against whoever led them to the two trees, and as luck would have it, security guards found the two trees sitting on a nearby road just a week after the robbery. We’re glad the historic trees are back in action!
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen in a museum? Share with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.