17
May-2017

First month reflections from Tony Green: The 2017 First Curator’s Apprentice

Tony Green, the 2017 First Curator's Apprentice.

Tony Green, the 2017 First Curator’s Apprentice.

The First Curator’s Apprenticeship was established in 2011 to honor Robert Drechsler, the first curator of the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. The 2017 First Curator’s Apprentice, Tony Green, works closely with Museum Specialist Michael James to care for the tree collections of the Museum. He is blogging about his training in the art of bonsai on our website. The Apprenticeship is funded by a grant from Toyota North America, Inc. to the National Bonsai Foundation. Read more about Tony’s bonsai journey on our Bonsai People blog.

***
Let me start by saying that it is with great humility and gratitude that I am writing this blog. It is an honor to be involved with both the National Bonsai Foundation, the U.S. National Arboretum and the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. I also want to extend many thanks to Toyota for funding this internship, and to all those who made this opportunity possible.

The first few weeks have been exhilarating, to say the least. At the beginning of my internship, I was able to work with Aaron Hughes, the intern I would be replacing. He showed me the meticulous duties and routine of a bonsai intern. I also was delighted to meet Michael James, museum specialist. Everyone made me feel welcome and at home in my new position.

In my first days at the Museum, Michael, Aaron and I worked on three stunning trees that had just arrived from Japan. We went to the airport and retrieved two white pines and one red pine, and then we took them to APHIS—the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. There, APHIS inspectors bare-rooted and inspected the trees for fungi, blight and insects. They gave us permission to re-pot the trees at their facility. Little did they know what that entailed. To put it simply, we made a huge mess.

Tony Green unpacks a newly donated pine at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Tony Green unpacks a newly donated pine at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Michael, Aaron and I worked like a well-oiled machine and completed our task. We brought all three trees back to the arboretum and placed them in quarantine. They will stay in quarantine for a minimum of two years with good behavior, and no chance for early parole. They will be inspected periodically for insects and disease until their release date, at which point they will be added to the permanent collection here at the Museum.

In the following weeks, I took on the responsibilities of watering the collection, cleaning the water basins, sweeping benches, pulling weeds, and answering questions for guests. So far, I’ve had the honor of working on some magnificent trees rich in history. I assisted in repotting Nancy Reagan’s white pine that was a gift from the king of Morocco, I helped repot Bill Clinton’s Ezo spruce, a gift of world peace from Saburo Kato and I worked on trees originally designed by bonsai artists like John Naka.

Michael James turns an APHIS laboratory into a bonsai studio.

Michael James turns an APHIS laboratory into a bonsai studio.

It takes a moment for all of this to sink in. I am humbled to be a part of the history and ancient culture of the endless endeavor we call bonsai. I relish each day here at the arboretum, where I spend each moment intimate with nature and all her diversity.

1

 likes / One comment
Share this post:
  1. Jim Hughes /

    Love the first blog entry. Brought back memories of my first experience with imported trees at the museum.

comment this post


Click on form to scroll

Archives

> <
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec