Tree of the Month Archive

 The Blanton Collection : Eagle's Landing, Juniperus scopulorum

Eagle's Landing, Juniperus scopulorum

The Blanton Collection, USA

Designed by Ryan Neil

Eagle’s Landing is estimated to be 450 years old and its origin is Rocky Mountains, species Juniperus scopulorum. It has been in training for 4 years and the container is Modern Chinese. It measures 31 inches tall by 34 inches wide. Mike Blanton owned, loved, and cared for this Rocky Mountain Juniper until he passed away in 2013. He showed it one time in 2012 at the Nashville Bonsai Society’s Regional Show. This picture was made at that show.



This stand was handmade by Tom Scott, Chattanooga, TN.

Eagle's Landing represents the best of the Blanton Collection and has been shown in the memory of Mike. The graceful, flowing movement of this tree is analogous to a great American Eagle, soaring through the sky. It truly represents the bonsai philosophy of Michael Blanton, now carried on by his wife Amy. Michael was widely known for sharing his thoughts, beliefs, and knowledge concerning anything related to trees and mentoring young bonsai enthusiasts. He provided many eager bonsai novices with bonsai material to get them started. He was always looking for alternative ways of maintaining the health of the trees in his garden. This lead him to owning species of trees that others said wouldn’t survive in our Southern climate. Eagle Landing shows his strength, stability, and grateful spirit. Eagle’s previous home was the Mirai Garden in the Portland Bonsai Village.
Mike and Amy Blanton were born and raised in Murfreesboro, TN, thirty-five miles southeast of Nashville, Tennessee. They grew up on the same street and attended the same neighborhood schools, but didn’t start dating until college. They married after graduation and spent two weeks shy of 36 wonderful years together. Mike bought his first Bonsai on a trip back from Florida from a guy hawking on the side of the road. The little tree survived the summer fine, but when winter came and Mike took it inside the home, you know the rest.  That first masterpiece died, but not the desire to try again. They now have around 100 trees ranging from California Junipers to Rocky Mountain Junipers and Alaskan Cedars to Shohin Maples.

Mike had the opportunity to study with some of the best artists and friends in the United States such as Roy Nagatoshi, Ryan Neil, Warren Hill, Bjorn Bjorholm, and many others.  In November 2009, Mike and Amy entered a tree in the 29th Grandview Bonsai Exhibition (Nippon Bonsai Taikan-ten) in Kyoto, Japan. They were honored to receive the “Superior in Shohin Bonsai Section Award” becoming the first Americans to receive an award in a Japanese Bonsai exhibition.

Mike believed the greatest trees in the world are right here in our back yard. Mike’s favorite tree to work on was any kind of Juniper and he had many varieties in his collection.  He especially liked Yamadori and was successful in sustaining these collected trees in the South. He used Bonsai for twenty-five years as a form of stress relief from his duties as a firefighter with the City of Murfreesboro.  After his retirement, he spent eight years full time in the gardens with his trees. Amy was an educator and administrator for thirty-five years. They enjoyed traveling and spending time in their yard that is modeled after Japanese gardens including two Koi ponds. They were members of Master Gardeners, local pond and Koi groups, members of the Nashville Bonsai Society where Mike served as vice-president and Amy as secretary for many years. Mike served as Membership Chairman and Board Member for the American Bonsai Society, and club member in various clubs throughout the region as well as a member of the Nippon Bonsai Society.
Since Mike’s passing in December 2013, Amy has been carrying on Mike’s legacy by maintaining his trees now known as The Blanton Collection.

We met Ryan in May 2010 soon after he returned from Japan. Ryan’s first demo state side was done in our gardens and we were his first clients. Eagle was the last tree that we acquired from Ryan.
This is Ryan’s tribute to Mike in the Artisan’s Cup program:
The legacy of bonsai is one of the most sacred facets of this art form. The spirit of each person who has stewarded a tree lives on as the tree is passed to the next generation. Mike Blanton owned, loved, and cared for this Rocky Mountain Juniper until he passed away in 2013. He named it Eagle’s Landing, and because of this legacy, this bond that transcends time, he lives on. – Ryan Neil