national bonsai + penjing museum

our new favorite little piece of d.c. may be the national bonsai + penjing museum inside the national arboretum. it’s a hidden gem in the city — an outdoor museum, surrounded by grass and trees. it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s in the middle of our nation’s capital, which is probably why we love it so much.

bonsai is the japanese art of growing trees in containers. they’re pruned to remain small, and the bonsai trainer chooses the shape of the tree over decades of time.

penjing is the chinese art of tray or container landscape — shaping trees and rocks and roots into beautiful landscapes, in miniature.

some bonsai and penjing are passed down through generations of families, hundreds of years, and become worth a great deal of money.

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the trees are truly works of art. there are about 150 trees, some of which have been in training for hundreds of years.

the museum collection started in 1976, when japan gifted the united states 53 bonsai trees for it’s bicentennial. from there it grew into the beautiful museum you can visit today — free of charge!

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we always joke that mila is going to become a botanist because she loves looking at trees. when she was a tiny baby, i’d put her rock ‘n play by the window and she would stare outside for 30 or 40 minutes. now, she’s just happy to play in the yard for an hour or more, as long as the wind is blowing and the leaves are waving. so, just as we suspected, she loved the museum.

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the museum hosts tons of events — and has a huge day of japanese festivities planned for november 4. here are all the details.

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