Location of the Bonsai Museum
It is still early on the 4th of December when I arrive in Dusseldorf. I am visiting the Bonsai Museum Dusseldorf today. I am participating in a workshop on deadwood for bonsai. however, first I would like to have a walk around the museum. This museum has a similar climate as in my backyard. So I am keen to learn what sort of winter protection is offered to the trees here. A lot of discussion always takes place on winter care. And as Werner Busch -the owner of the museum- has been growing bonsai for decades here, he will know what is really needed. The museum is located just behind the dikes for the river Rhine, in Hammer, on the Hammer Dorfstraße 167. The only realistic way to get here is by car. For parking, drive onto the river dike and a little down the road you will find a small parking lot created because a lot of people like to go for a stroll along the river. After you cross the dike you can enter the museum through a back-entrance, saving you a walk to the front entrance.
The museum consists of a set of corridors constructed using backdrop walls. Along the walls strong benches have been created on which the trees stand. The backdrops and corridors create a cozy atmosphere and allow the viewing of individual trees without being disturbed by other trees in the background. The major part of the display area is for trees in the largest sizes. Smaller trees are here too, but more located towards the entrance, and in the for sale areas. Small trees are not the highlight of the museum.
The overall level of the trees on display is high. Every single tree on display is mature, well ramnified with nicely aged bark. Deadwood on trees with deadwood is well-developed with nicely callused edges. You will not find recently styled trees here. All in all, probably about 100 big trees are on display in the musem. Just outside the museum section, table upon table of trees for sale and trees from students can be seen. It is not always clear whether trees are student owned, for sale or for display only. So ask wen in doubt.
Informatie on Bonsai
Throughout the exhibition you will see information on growing bonsai. The museum contains sections, each dedicated to a specific part of growing bonsai.
A part of the museum is dedicated to invited displays. Werner asks artists to display their trees here for a few months at a time as a special collection. This creates a constantly renewing display of trees by individual artists. The opening and closing of such special displays is often combined with a lecture by the artist.
Winter protection of Bonsai
When I arrive at the museum, everything is white from the frost. Overnight, temperatures dropped to -5 celcius. Winter has arrived in this part of Germany. The dike itself is slippery as a skating ring. And of course, also the bonsaimuseum is covered in white. As a lot of fairy tales are distributed amongst bonsai enthousiats regarding the ideal winter protection, I am curious to see how the trees are treated in winter. The climate here is very similar to that in my garden, so I hope to pick up some tricks. As I walk into the museum, I am pleasantly surprised to see the benches fully stocked. I see no obvious gaping holes in the collection. All trees are on their benches. No special protection is given to the trees, as far as I can tell. So.. Does this mean there are only native, very hardy trees here? Not really. Japanese and trident are also here, for instance. The trees are obviously sheltered against the wind. But this seems to be the only protection they gett at these temperatures. Good to know for my own garden..
Werner is also a trader in trees, substrate, wire, tools, books and pots. So it is a one-stop bonsai shop. Besides the trees in the museum/for sale area, he has a large stock of e.g., yamadori at his private garden. If it is quiet, there might be an option to have a look at his stock. Price wise, trees for sale range from some 20 euros into the several hundreds range.
During the weekends courses are offered at the Bonsai Museum. This museum is an offical traning centre to become a recognized bonsai teacher. This programme takes place during 3 long weekends each year, over a period of 8 years. Besides the official programme, anyone can become a member of the museum, and work there every Thursday. Staff of the museum is around during these days to assist, discuss and advise. Finallly, Werner opens the workspace here for courses offered by the German bonsai association, Bonsai Club Deutschland.
The bonsai museum offers a great range of services, suitable for all levels of bonsai enthousiasts. If you are in the area, it is well-worth visiting for morning or afternoon.