Bonsai Exhibit in the Japanese Garden

Bonsai Display at Lotusland

The bonsai display in the Japanese Garden is a collaboration between Lotusland and the Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara. The stands were created by longtime Lotusland gardener, Mike Furner, using wood from the 104-year-old Monterey Cypress that adorned the great lawn, until it had to be removed for safety sake. All trees in the display belong to Club members and are maintained and rotated by the Club on a regular basis.

The art of growing and styling miniature trees in pots began in China centuries ago. The Chinese style is known as penjing (or penzai). Often in penjing, several trees and rocks may be combined into a miniature landscape in shallow pots. Chinese figures may also be part of the display.

Bonsai (bone-sigh), meaning tree in a tray (or pot) probably derived from the word penzai, when the art was introduced in Japan by Buddhist students and diplomats returning from trips to China in the 7thcentury CE. Most of the earliest bonsai trees were collected from the wild. Some of these early trees are now hundreds of years old, and have been passed down from generation to generation. Japanese bonsai masters spread the art throughout the world. Today, bonsai can be found in many parts of the United States with California having some of the finest nurseries and collections.

The art of capturing the essence and beauty of trees can be found in bonsai as well as in its counterpart, niwaki (garden tree), which are found throughout the Japanese Garden.

Since its founding in 1971 the Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara has been dedicated to the education of its members and the general public in the art and culture of bonsai.

For further information on the individual trees currently on display and further information on the Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara please click the link below:

The installation was made possible by a generous anonymous donor and with the vision and care of Terri Clay and the Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara.

Pictured from left: Lotusland Grounds Supervisor Junio Milanese, Terri Clay, Lotusland Gardener Mike Furner with Jeff Sczechowski, President of the Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara, and Ernie Witham on the day of the Bonsai installation, April 2021.