I was out scouting a location for a future photo shoot when I found myself about to drive past the Weyerhaeuser corporate headquarters building here in Washington state. With some time to spare I pulled off and visited their beautiful bonsai gardens where they have 60 unique specimens from 6 different Pacific Rim nations, some were started as long ago as the 1950s.
When I’m out in the field I’m often drawn to compositions of graphic lines and form. You can find beauty in the patterns of nature just about anywhere you go, you just need to be open to seeing them. Bonsai is a collaboration between man and nature that celebrates this beauty. It is up to the individual artist’s imagination to shape the plants through very selective pruning, removing key limbs, creating a balance to the composition, even shaping the limbs directly either with copper wire or by suspending stones from the branches to weigh them down. Over time the plant will adopt this new shape even as the wire and stones are removed.
In this age that has so much slick art dominating the culture it’s nice to see imperfections. The bonsai is a living plant, it will never be absolutely perfect and it is forever growing and slowly changing. This is a very slow, methodical and thoughtful art form. I find peace and a feeling of zen when I have time to just sit back and admire these beautiful works of art. I was drawn in by all of them, whether the great redwood in miniature or the wabi sabi out of balance nature of the one that looked as if it was growing out of the discards from a giant egg. Serendipity played a hand in the timing of my visit as many of the deciduous varieties had yet to fully leaf out allowing the intricate design of their branches to be seen with just a hint of the color yet to come. It will come as no surprise that I have many bonsai trees in my own landscape.
What was intended as merely a scouting mission, I didn’t even have any formal camera gear with me, resulted in a wonderful opportunity to soak in some art and nature and fill my soul. A wonderful day for me is not always about the perfect light and equipment, the images shared here were simply shot on my iPhone. It was a great way to spend the morning, I highly recommend it.
For details on the Weyehaeuser bonsai gardens click here: