Pavilions, Courtyards & Gardens


Stone Lantern in the Kato Family Stroll Garden
Gift of Jim and Mary Kaye Doyle
In Memory of Jack Billet

In addition to the three Pavilions and Tropical Conservatory used for display of the collections there are other wonderful spaces within the Museum complex.The lovely entrance area outside the first gate into the Museum is called the Ellen Gordon Allen Garden, named in honor of the founder of Chapter #1 of Ikebana International. Once through the gate the visitor is in a Japanese woodland garden shaded by large Japanese Cedars. This “Cryptomeria Walk” leads to the Upper Courtyard of the Museum.

The preeminent aspect of the Maria Vanzant Upper Courtyard is the dramatic logo wall, with moving water at the base and a large North American bonsai on exhibit throughout most of the year. The opposite side of the wall provides a backdrop for the display of smaller trees on stone plinths. The space is bordered by several planting beds, one of which has a stone stream, and another displays viewing stones given by Harry Hirao in memory of his wife, Chiyoko Alyce Hirao.

The International Pavilion, which serves as both a visitors center and exhibit space, is named in honor of a most generous and kindly benefactor of the Museum, Mary E. Mrose (1910-2003). This building includes both a Tokonoma for the display of bonsai, scrolls, stones and companion plants and a replica of a Chinese Scholar’s Studio, as well as a small library space. The Special Exhibits Wing of the building, constructed around a small interior courtyard, is used for changing exhibits of bonsai, viewing stones and ikebana.

The Kato Family Stroll Garden is entered from the Upper Courtyard through the H. William Merritt Gate. The pathway through this enchanting garden leads visitors to the Japanese Pavilion. Or visitors can descend to the Lower Courtyard to the Yee-sun Wu Chinese Pavilion. The Lower Courtyard, encircled by the Rose Family Garden, is attractive in every season of the year. Also in this space is the Melba Tucker Arbor that is used for educational displays and demonstrations by staff and volunteers.


Entrance Garden from above
Photo: Museum Staff

Staff offices and work space, as well as a greenhouse, are at this level in the center named in memory of one of the most influential bonsai masters in the U.S., Yuji Yoshimura (1921-1997). Outside the center is a small bamboo bed with large vertical bamboo stones donated by members of the Potomac Viewing Stone Group.

The George Yamaguchi Garden of North American native plants fill the space between the Japanese Pavilion and the North American Pavilion, named in honor of the other renowned American bonsai master, John Y. Naka (1914-2004). The paths and gate in this area comprise the Final Phase of the Courtyard project that will make the entire Museum complex accessible to all visitors. See About NBF/Current Projects.


Stone Walk
Photo: Museum Staff


From the Lower to the Upper Courtyard
Photo: Museum Staff