North Carolina Arboretum and Bonsai Garden

Photos of this scenic stop near the Blue Ridge Parkway


No trip to Asheville North Carolina would be complete without a half day visit to The North Carolina Arboretum. The arboretum is easily accessible from The Blue Ridge Parkway and is only a short drive from downtown Asheville, N.C.

The Bonsai Garden includes bonsai specimens planted in the ground and displayed in pots. The plants are accented with various posters describing the art and beauty of bonsai.

Bonsai (pronounced 'bone-sigh') first appeared in China over one thousand years ago as an art of growing dwarfed, ornamentally shaped trees or shrubs in small shallow containers. These early specimens were shaped like animals, dragons, and birds, far from the natural shapes common today.

Introduced to Japan around 1199 AD, this art form was refined and became a symbol of prestige displayed indoors  on special shelves for special occasions. With the end of global isolation, Japan presented bonsai at the Paris Exhibition in 1900, exposing the world to bonsai.

Soon demand for bonsai began to grow, especially in the US. Capitalizing on this interest the Japanese opened nurseries dedicated to the cultivation and export of the trees. Since the late 20th century bonsai has evolved to reflect the variety of countries, cultures and conditions in which it is now practiced. Many of the bonsai you will see here are representative of the native species and character of Southern Appalachia.