Mike and Amy Blanton were born and raised in Murfreesboro, TN, thirty-five miles southeast of Nashville, TN. 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 has 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 Bjorhalm, 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 it’s time to take American Bonsai to the next level as 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 yard 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.
Caring for bonsai is a commitment that requires time, skill, and patience. Everyday the bonsai artist tends to the tree, little by little, working toward a masterpiece that can be shared for generations.