Bonsai & Penjing Collection
History of Our Collection
The Matthaei-Nichols bonsai and penjing collection is a community collaboration developed through years of donations, volunteer and staff stewardship, and attentive care. Our collection began in 1977 when we accepted Dr. Maurice Seevers' bonsai collection from his estate. Dr. Seevers, former chair of the U-M Department of Pharmacology, traveled to Japan and was introduced to bonsai by his Japanese graduate students and colleagues. Through the years we’ve received additional specimens and pots from Ann Arbor Bonsai Society (AABS) members, University of Michigan alumni, and other generous collectors. Additional trees were started as cuttings within our own greenhouse.
In 1983, the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society became involved with the collection when, by invitation, they evaluated the Seevers collection and gave advice for future styling and care. The AABS has a continuing influence on the collection through its expert advice, dedicated volunteers, and monetary support. Over the years, AABS members have accepted a stewardship role as team leaders: skillfully styling our trees and giving advice on horticultural care. Under staff supervision and steward guidance, volunteers meet each week to care for our collection and set up our display. Both internationally and nationally known experts have consulted and worked on our collection including Bruce Baker, Dave DeGroot, Marco Inverness, Colin Lewis, Boon Manakitivipart, Jerry Meislik, Arthur Skolnik, and Jack Wikle.