Pacific Bonsai Museum’s ‘Little Champions’ exhibit to display at Amazon Spheres

The bonsai exhibit will be on view from Aug. 30 through Oct. 7.

Trees from the Pacific Bonsai Museum will soon be on display at Amazon’s Seattle Spheres.

From Tuesday, Aug. 30 to Friday, Oct. 7, visitors can admire Washington’s Champion tree species up close without tromping through fragile ecosystems at the “Little Champions: Bonsai from the Evergreen State” exhibition. “Champion trees” is a term used to describe the larges trees of a given species.

“The point of bonsai is to observe, interpret and compress the oldness and largeness of trees and present them as a representation of nature in miniature,” said Aarin Packard, the Pacific Bonsai Museum’s curator, who organized the exhibition. “The art makes them relatable on a human scale and allows people to behold their grandeur from an otherwise impossible vantage point.”

Five Washington-native coniferous bonsai from Pacific Bonsai Museum’s collection will also be on view at the Spheres. The five bonsai on display on both the fourth floor Sky Deck and the third floor of the Seattle Spheres are:

  • Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla); estimated year of germination from seed 1930; in training as a bonsai since 1965; originally created by bonsai artists James and Marsha Nakahara.
  • Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa); age, time in training, and original artist unknown.
  • Shore Pine (Pinus contorta var. Contorta), estimated year of germination from seed 1740 to 1760; originally created by bonsai artist Jack Sullivan.
  • Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmannii); estimated year of germination from seed 1890 to 1900; in training as a bonsai since 1978; originally created by bonsai artist Ron Yasenchak.
  • Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), estimated year of germination from seed 1955; in training as a bonsai since 1964; originally created by bonsai artist George Schenk.

In addition to bonsai, several small kusamono (commonly translated from Japanese as “weed thing”) of ferns and grasses representing the understory of a particular Champion’s environment will be on display.

Kusamono is an allied art of bonsai where various small plants are presented as if they had been scooped up in their natural assemblages and planted in a shallow, ceramic container, according to the Pacific Bonsai Museum. Presented together, bonsai and kusamono “suggest a distillation of a larger landscape in miniature.”

By presenting this exhibition to Amazon employees, their families and guests, and general visitors on public Saturdays, Pacific Bonsai Museum aims to inspire appreciation for ancient-yet-fragile Champions, both big and small, and their supporting ecosystems.

Pacific Bonsai Museum’s volunteer docents will attend public Saturdays to answer questions, share insights, and prompt conversations about the Little Champions.

Little Champions is the second temporary exhibit Pacific Bonsai Museum hosted in the Seattle Spheres. Four bonsai were displayed on the top level of the structure from Feb. 3 to March 17, 2019. Pacific Bonsai Museum was the first outside organization invited to hold a temporary exhibit in the Spheres, according to the museum.

“We appreciate the quality and botanic diversity of Pacific Bonsai Museum’s collection and wanted to help support their mission to connect people to nature by giving them an opportunity to exhibit pieces from their collection in front of new audiences,” said Justin Schroeder, Amazon’s Spheres real estate and facilities manager. “It is also valuable to our employees to introduce dynamism into the collection and give them an opportunity to experience bonsai in this unique setting.”

Each plant inside the Spheres was chosen from the Amazon Plant Collection and is cared for by members of Amazon Horticulture. The Spheres are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., accessible to all Amazon employees and up to six guests. Amazon’s Seattle Spheres are located at 2111 7th Ave. in Seattle.

The public is invited to visit every first and third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with confirmation of a reservation. To reserve tickets, visit