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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Resilience And Survival

(For politics, please scroll down)

(Photo by Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)
Never underestimate the power of Mother Nature!

From This 390-year-old bonsai tree survived an atomic bomb, and no one knew until 2001:
The tree, a part of the Arboretum’s National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, has not only navigated the perils of age to become the collection’s oldest, but it also survived the blast of an atomic bomb, Little Boy, dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.

“For one, it’s amazing to think that something could have survived an atomic blast,” said Weisberg, a 26-year-old student at the Georgetown University Law Center.

The bonsai tree’s history is being honored this week, as Thursday marks the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. But visitors can see the tree as part of the museum’s permanent collection throughout the year.

The tree, donated by a bonsai master named Masaru Yamaki, was part of a 53-specimen gift to the United States for its 1976 bicentennial. Little was known about the tree until March 8, 2001, when — with no advance notice — two brothers visiting from Japan showed up at the museum to check on their grandfather’s tree.


“Location, location, location,” [Jack] Sustic [curator of the Bonsai and Penjing Museum] said. “It was up against a wall. It must have been the wall that shielded it from the blast.”

All the family members inside the home survived the blast as well. It blew out all the windows, leaving everyone inside cut from flying glass, but no one suffered permanent injury, according to the museum.

The white pine has long outlived its life expectancy and has spent about a tenth of its life in Washington....
Read the entire article HERE. What a testimony to the tenacity of life!

Please see this related information at Amazon...The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: A Little Bonsai with a Big Story (2015). I am reminded of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Fir Tree — although the two stories offer different lessons and very different endings.


  1. BONSAI –– an enduring source of fascination and wonderment since I first visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens 50-odd years ago. At that time a small grove of miniaturized Maple trees thrived in a shallow, tray-like container approximately 24" in width, 15" in depth. I was informed at the time that those trees were about 125 years old. I felt awestruck at the time, and still do every time I think of it.

    I love the National Arboretum, and have spent many happy hours there. I hope you and your husband will be able to go there soon, and take some pictures of this beautiful survivor of the first (and we hope the only) Nuclear Holocaust.

    Antiques and ancient trees always give me courage. I look at a chest of drawers one or two other pieces I've had for years that predate the American Revolution. And I think to myself, "If you can survive the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI, the Depression, and WWII, maybe I can survive till old age too." ;-)

    The BONSAI is a Symbol of Survival through daily applications of tender, loving care.

    1. FT,
      I'll have to find out if the National Arburetum is handicapped accessible if Mr. AOW is to go.

    2. I'd be amazed if the arboretum weren't accessible, AOW. The Law requires ALL public facilities to be rebuilt to whatever degree necessary in order to accommodate wheelchairs, etc. It would be SCANDALOUS if a major attraction in The District failed to comply.

    3. FT,
      Often, "accessible" is defined as fine-gravel or packed-dirt walkways -- particularly in natural settings. If walkways of that type are damp, the scooter bogs down.

      I'm sure that there is a wheelchair ramp so as to enter these facilities. But full access to everything? Not likely.

      I've learned to scout out locations before embarking.

  2. what blows my mind is how much this tree resembles the 'mushroom cloud' appearance of an atomic bomb.....
    terrific story.....

    1. Z,
      It is shaped like a mushroom cloud, and I, too, noticed that.

      As for this find of a story, I just HAD to post something non-political. Too much politics -- and I burn out.

    2. Well, you know I often do this, too.....Something totally non political.....you're right; we just have to! Burn out, indeed....

    3. Z,
      It's all about holding onto our sanity.

  3. What a fascinating piece - it's almost twice its expected lifespan.

    1. Baysider,
      It is amazing that this tree, exposed to so much radiation, has lived so long. One of the strange "miracles" of radiation? Who knows?

  4. Replies
    1. Mihara was so lucky to have been late to work that day!

      And she went on to live a good long life, too.

      Thanks for the link, Duck.

  5. Years ago, as a fledgling municipal arborist, I was tasked with scouring the township for "Bicentennial Trees" that had been here when the Declaration of Independence was signed. In our 8 square mile area we identified 18 readily accessible trees that were in excess of 200 years old at that time.
    I've worked in several of Pennsylvania's "Charter Oaks" which were here in 1681 when William Penn got off the boat. I recently found another candidate for that list, that I estimate to be in excess of 425, growing alongside my local bike trail. ( No one noticed? It's a white oak more than 6 ft in diameter, with a spread of more than 125 ft. yet isn't on the local list of notable trees)

    The idea of keeping a tree of that age alive in a pot is simply mind boggling.

    The FAQ for the National Arboretum does not address the question of accessibility. I know that a large portion of Longwood is as I've taken my late MIL through much of it in a wheel chair. As I haven't been too the National in decades I would gladly revisit and offer whatever assistance you may need if you care to coordinate a visit to there or to Longwood. Hit Ducky up for visits to Arnold. ;-)

    1. Viburnum,
      Your work with the Pennsylvania's "Charter Oaks" sounds fascinating!

      Most botanical gardens are not wheelchair accessible. Even when they say they are, the surfaces for a scooter are usually unsatisfactory -- or so Mr. AOW and I have discovered to our chagrin. Longwood Gardens appears to be an exception. Its location is about 100 miles from where we live.

      Meadowlark Gardens in Northern Virginia is an exception, and Mr. AOW and I have visited there a few times.


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