September Walking Tour – Bill Hosokawa Bonsai Pavilion

September 1, 2022 Larry Jackel , Bonsai Specialist

The Bill Hosokawa Bonsai Pavilion opened on June 20, 2012. Between then and the present, we have seen the bonsai collection grow and the landscape of the Pavilion mature and, in some cases, be replaced by native “character trees” of the Front Range. Plantings of Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) in the plant beds along the north edge of the main display are some of the newest additions.

  • As you enter the Bonsai Pavilion through the east gate, immediately to your right is a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) that has been styled to look like an old mountain tree. To your left is the Pavilion waterfall and pool. On either side of the waterfall are two Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) that give a feeling of old, rugged trees that have struggled and survived many years in the mountains.
  • Directly in front of the display house are three pedestals featuring bonsai that are not your typical bonsai material. Non-traditional bonsai material is being used with the idea to expand our concept of bonsai to include species not usually thought of as bonsai material. These plants are succulents, a plant group that is gaining popularity as bonsai. They flourish at the location, the hottest spot in the Bonsai Pavilion. These non-traditional bonsai include species from the genera Crassula, Adenium, Fockea and Euphorbia.
  • On your right is the bronze bust of Bill Hosokawa, the namesake of the Bonsai Pavilion. We are honored to celebrate the legacy created by Mr. Hosokawa by displaying the art of bonsai, which he admired. During the warmer seasons, a small vegetable garden, which was Mr. Hosokawa’s passion, can be seen growing at the base of his bust.
  • Immediately to the left of the Hosokawa bronze are several display shelves, inserted in the lathe wall to display small to medium-sized bonsai. By turning back to the south, you may enter the display house. In the display house are tropical and sub-tropicals that may need some protection from the dry winds and intense light of the Rocky Mountain region. Included in the tropical collection are willow leaf fig (Ficus salicaria), Chinese banyan (Ficus microcarpa), elephant bush (Portulacaria afra) and bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra).
  • Exiting the display house from the north door, take an immediate left and enter the courtyard gallery. Surrounded by Western red cedar and lodgepole pine fencing, view the core of the Gardens’ bonsai collection, the Rocky Mountain collection. In the area are ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), limber pine (Pinus flexilis) and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca). Many other species seen on the Front Range have been added to the collection and are on display.

Each of the trees on display has a small label with a description of the tree. Some of the most frequently asked questions are about the information on these labels. “YEARS OF TRAINING” tells us how long the bonsai artist has worked with the plant to make and maintain it as a bonsai. Visitors often also want to know how old each tree is. “APPROXIMATE AGE” is the artist’s best guess on how old they think the plant may be, with emphasis on the word “guess.” The guess may be wrong, but it is interesting to see a bonsai that may have begun growing 250 years ago in a narrow crack in the granite of the Front Range before finding its way into a bonsai pot!

As the seasons change, please stop by and see how the bonsai collection changes – spring growth, summer maturity, fall color and winter silhouettes. Labor Day weekend is an excellent time to visit! The Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society Show takes place Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 3 & 4. Included with admission.


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