Photo Credit: Diane Tjerrild
THE CLARK BONSAI COLLECTION
BONSAI AS ART
Bonsai is living art - a perfect blend of horticulture and artistic evolution capturing the character of old trees in nature. Seasonal changes invite rotating displays highlighting the beauty of the trees in each season. The Clark Collection includes 100 trees, 75 of which hold accessioned status. Among these are two legacy trees formerly owned by Japanese-Americans. During their internment in World War II, the trees survived through the care of good neighbors and friends.
Bonsai means “tree in a pot.” The word is pronounced “bone-sigh.” The goal of the bonsai artist is to capture the mood and spirit of an old tree in nature. Bonsai may have been in a pot from a few months to more than four centuries. They may be taken from the wild or from nursery stock. They require constant care to maintain both their health and design. These living and growing works of art go back to China in 700 AD. Buddhist monks took bonsai to Japan 800 - 1200 AD. They were seen at Expositions in the U.S. in the late 1800’s. Bonsai experienced significant growth after WWII with returning veterans and Japanese-Americans. There are many hobbyists worldwide today.
In 2014 the Clark Center for Asian Arts and Culture gifted their legacy Bonsai Collection to the Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF). GSBF responded to Shinzen’s robust campaign to present Fresno as the preferred site with its decision to house this world-class Collection in our Shinzen Friendship Garden within a specially created bonsai exhibit area. Our Central Collection joins the North Collection at Oakland’s Lake Merritt and the Southern Collection at San Marino’s Huntington Garden.
The Collection exhibit area, designed by local landscape architect, Bob Boro with construction led by design-build contractor, Sid Mukai. The display space reflects the characteristics of a Japanese stroll garden with a hide and reveal design providing new vistas at every turn. Water conservation was the overriding focus of the landscape design and the irrigation system for the bonsai throughout the collection. The system was designed and built by Ray Thieme and Gene Nelson from the Fresno Bonsai Society. www.clarkbonsaicollection.com