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.
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.