The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection at the Arnold Arboretum celebrates its hundredth anniversary in America this year. The plants were originally imported in 1913 by the Honorable Larz Anderson, upon his return from serving as ambassador to Japan. The core of the collection consists of seven large specimens of compact hinoki cypresses Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Chabo-hiba’—now between 151 and 276 years old—that Anderson purchased from the Yokohama Nursery Company. These plants provide a direct link to the early 1900s, when Americans and Europeans, infatuated with the Far East, were passionately collecting cultural artifacts from Japan.
While the sixteen plants that currently make up the Larz Anderson Collection are not the oldest dwarfed plants in the United States, they have been under cultivation longer than any other examples currently growing in North America—with the lone exception of three plants at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden that were imported in 1911. The Arboretum plans a number of special events this fall to celebrate the beauty and historical importance of this singular collection of dwarfed plants; details will be announced this spring. Currently off display for the winter, the collection will return to public view in April.