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Arboretum in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Timeless Trees

 
 
Timeless Trees Marker [left panel] image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 11, 2020
1. Timeless Trees Marker [left panel]
Inscription.  Centuries ago the art of cultivating trees in pots traveled across the sea from China to the island nation of Japan. There it slowly acquired a distinctively Japanese style. While the Chinese sought to capture the essence of their wilderness in miniature form, the Japanese chose to tame nature by standardizing styles and techniques. They believed that bonsai, like haiku poetry, should inspire mindfulness.

The Japanese people's spiritual reverence for older trees led them to create bonsai styles that imitated the characteristics of age. Tapered trunks with flaring bases, dead wood, and branches bending with great weight all reflect the qualities of a tree's advanced years. Even a young tree might appear old when trained to develop these features.

In Japan, bonsai has long been recognized as a fine art with the same seriousness of intent and depth of meaning as poetry, music, painting, or sculpture. We invite you to contemplate the masterpieces of this centuries-old art form displayed here.

Shaped by human hands
Nurtured becomes nurturing
Slowly growing dreams

Mastering Forms
Japanese
Timeless Trees Marker [center panel] image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 11, 2020
2. Timeless Trees Marker [center panel]
bonsai artists created idealized images of mature trees, taking inspiration from the trees around them. Observing the many ways that trees grew—straight up or leaning, for example—they created rules for shaping bonsai into typical forms. While each bonsai is unique, it may be classified according to the way its creator styled it. Look for the standard bonsai styles below as you walk through the pavilion.

Priceless Gifts
In honor of the American Bicentennial, a committee of experts journeyed through all four major Japanese islands to find the most noble bonsai to offer as gifts. When the United States turned 200 in 1976, it gratefully accepted 53 bonsai and 6 viewing stones from the people of Japan. The selection is included one bonsai for every U.S. State, plus three from the Imperial Collections. Members of the Nippon Bonsai Association assured that each tree represented the mastery of the art form achieved by generations of Japanese bonsai artists. The extraordinary gift of friendship became the National Arboretum's first bonsai collection.

Photo: U.S. Ambassador James D. Hodgson receives document of bonsai gift from former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi in Tokyo at the Presentation Ceremony, March 20, 1975.

Inspiring A Vision
His numerous collecting trips to Japan in the 1950s and 1960s exposed
Timeless Trees Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 11, 2020
3. Timeless Trees Marker
USDA plant explorer John L. Creech to the country's wealth of plant material used in bonsai. He learned to appreciate the horticultural expertise required to keep trees planted in pots alive for centuries. After becoming director of the U.S. National Arboretum in 1973, Dr. Chreech knew he wanted to showcase Japan's most honored form of plant culture. Through his efforts, the Japanese bicentennial gift cleared the diplomatic and quarantine hurdles required to bring 53 bonsai from their home in Japan to serve as cultural ambassadors living in the Nation's Capital.
 
Erected by U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 
Location. 38° 54.734′ N, 76° 58.147′ W. Marker is in Arboretum, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker can be reached from Meadow Road Northeast just west of Ellipse Road Northeast when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Branching Out (within shouting distance of this marker); Bonsai Pioneer (within shouting distance of this marker); Rosmarinus officinalis (within shouting distance of this marker); An Art Form Is Born (within shouting distance of this marker); What shape do you see? (within shouting distance of this marker);
Timeless Trees Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 11, 2020
4. Timeless Trees Marker
Cladrastis kentukea (within shouting distance of this marker); The Knot Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); If trees could talk... (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arboretum.
 
Categories. Arts, Letters, MusicHorticulture & Forestry
 

More. Search the internet for Timeless Trees.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 17, 2020. This page originally submitted on January 11, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 38 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 11, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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