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On the same day last August that Annah and I had traveled to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, we also visited the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at the Como Zoo.

"The Bonsai Gallery honors a Japanese art. Bonsai, pronounced bone-sigh, means “tree in a pot.” It is an art form with origins that go back more than 2000 years to the ancient Orient.

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory houses the largest Bonsai collection in the upper Midwest. The collection represents donations and loans from companies, individuals and organizations."
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It was delightful to see so many wonderful bonsai specimens on display and they even allowed us to photograph them. Below are photographs of each tree with their name and age listed.

Bonsai Exhibit at the Como Zoo Conservatory in August of 2007

Acer Palmatum "Japanese Maple" (26 years old)

Punica granatum "Pomegranate" (25 years old)

Thuja occidentalis "White Cedar" (47 years old)

Juniperus chinensis "Chinese Juniper" (25 years old)

(Ulmus parvifolia "Chinese Elm" [80 years])

Carpinus coreana "Korean Beech" (35 years old)

Ficus benjamina "Weeping Fig" (50+ years old)

Juniperus chinensis "San Jose Juniper" (50 years old)

Chamaecyparis obtusa "Hinoki Cypress" (55 years old)

Taxodium distichum "Baldcypress" (20 years old)

Ulmus parvifolia "Chinese Elm" (30 years old)

Ficus nitida "Fig" (30 years old)

Juniperus Chinensis "Juniper" (26 years old)

Juniperus virginiana "Eastern Red Cedar" (35 years old)

Ginkgo biloba "Ginkgo" (40 years old)

After seeing all of the wonderful bonsai on display, we visited the gift shop and found two beautiful Serissa foetida 'Pink Princess' for sale. I purchased a 5-year-old tree and Annah purchased a 4-year-old tree (see pictures below). They grew beautifully for about three to four months, but then Annah's Serissa got sick from some sort of pest or disease and perished rather quickly. In an effort to nurse it back to health, I brought it to the same room as my Serrisa (for what reason I'm not entirely sure) and my blooming beauty soon perished as well.

(My Serissa foetida)

(Annah's Serissa foetida)

In addition to this purchase, I had also purchased two Pachira aquatica ("Braided Money Tree") bonsai, and a Murraya paniculata ("Orange Jessamine") from the online store Bonsai Boy with all of them looking wonderful upon arrival. My Money Tree is a healthy and vibrant plant, but it seems as though spider mites have attacked Annah's Money Tree, so it has been quarantined and is going through the process of being nursed back to health. We will see if it survives. Added after the original post: The Murraya paniculata did not adjust well to the conditions I was giving it and died within about eight weeks and so we unfortunately never got to see the flowers bloom on it.

The only other "bonsais" that we own are two Ficus retusa ("Ginseng Ficus") from Walgreen's and another from Wal-Mart. (See our post on them to see pictures and some information.)

Growing true bonsai is rather difficult and requires a great deal of skill and knowledge about how to take care of them properly. Apparently Annah and I do not yet have that kind of skill or knowledge, but we can still admire the beauty and magnificence of the bonsais at the Conservatory and elsewhere.

Sources:
1 http://www.comozooconservatory.org/cons/index.shtml

Photo Credits: Jordan and Annah

9 comments

  1. mr_subjunctive // April 15, 2008 at 6:35 PM  

    But the Murraya is okay?

  2. Jordan // April 15, 2008 at 8:04 PM  

    I guess I forgot to finish writing about the Murraya...it did die after about eight weeks or so.

  3. chey // April 15, 2008 at 8:26 PM  

    Enjoyed the photos of all the bonsai trees Jordan. It's interesting to learn of the type of tree that they've been formed from, as well as the age of each tree. Thanks for sharing!

  4. bestdank // April 16, 2008 at 11:54 AM  

    That looks like a great place to visit. I am sorry to hear about your loses. Maybe you will have better luck with your new ones. I have not tried a bonsai yet, but it is on the list.

  5. The Gardeness // April 16, 2008 at 11:16 PM  

    I love bonsai but they never last long in our house. Death. Sorry to hear about yours.

  6. No Rain // April 19, 2008 at 2:02 AM  

    The bonsai photos are wonderful and true works of art. Do you know if the really old ones are passed on to family members who keep them up, or are they sold? I know a lot of folks spend a lifetime training their bonsai, but I've often wondered what happens to their best work.
    Aiyana

  7. Marie // April 20, 2008 at 4:12 AM  

    Beautiful bonsai!

  8. Jordan // April 21, 2008 at 2:42 PM  

    Aiyana, the exhibit there included donations from companies, individuals, organizations, and local artists. I'm sure that many of the bonsais in the collection are from folks who spent their lives growing the trees, and it is wonderful that they donated them for everyone else to see!

  9. Rafael // April 24, 2008 at 9:42 AM  

    Nice pics. I especially love the Gingko biloba. I love Bonsai and have studied the art form. Did you know that Bonsai is considered a journey and never a finished product? The plant reflects the journey and life of the person who maintains it.