New York Botanical Garden: Kiku

The New York Botanical Garden has a fabulous exhibit titled Kiku. “Kiku” is the Japanese word for “Chrysanthemum,” and the exhibit is an extraordinary exhibit of the high Japenese art of cultivating Crysanthemum plants, a plant so embedded in the Japanese culture that it is the symbol of the Japanese Emperor.

On our way to the Kiku exhibit we passed by the Jane Watson Irwin Memorial Garden, one of the many gifts from the Watson family — the founders of IBM — to New York City. As luck would have it, the discreet plaque was surrounded by chrysanthemums:

Nov2007 028
Jane Watson Irwin Memorial Garden at the NYBG

This is the largest exhibit of Kiku ever assembled outside Japan, and was five years in the making, including visits of experts from the NYBG to Japan to learn some of this art from colleagues in Japan. I took several photos during a visit to this exhibit this past Sunday, and share some of them with you via this post.

My camera batteries lost power about halfway through my wanderings, which was probably a good thing, as I then had to choose my last shots more carefully, and also had more time to just enjoy the exceptional artistry of these master gardeners.

Here are some of the introductory posters about the exhibit that can be found in the entrance way to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, one of the most striking buildings in New York City. If you look at the full images via flickr you should be able to read much of the text.

Nov2007 029

Nov2007 030

Nov2007 031

Nov2007 032

Nov2007 033

Nov2007 034

Most of the exhibit was outdoors. In the center was a bamboo sculpture:

Nov2007 019

Nov2007 037

Here are some photos of the various exhibits:

Nov2007 039

Nov2007 041

Nov2007 043

Nov2007 044

The next two photos are each of a single plant, one had 186 flowers, the other 229. (One wonders of the significance of these numbers.) Each had a single stem, at most a half inch in diameter! [1]

Nov2007 045

Nov2007 046

The exhibit also included many examples of another form of Japanese art, Bonsai. Most of them were from the Shanti Bithi Bonsai Nursey in Stamford, CT. Several members of a Bonsai Club from Stamford were present to describe these artfully-cultivated miniature trees:

Nov2007 048

Nov2007 049

Nov2007 050
Two-hundred year old Bonsai

I was fortunate to see the Bonsai trees on the last day of their exhibit, as the NYBG needs to start preparations for this year’s HolidayTrain Show. I described last year’s exhibit in my post The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show.

Because of the failing battery I was unable to photograph my two favorite exhibits, which combined the Japanese Art of the Rock Garden with Kiku to produce striking landscapes, one of white flowers cascading down rocks to mimic the effect of snow, the other with the colors of Fall. If you want to enjoy these flower sculptures then you will have to go see them for yourselves, a visit I recommend to you, as only two weeks remain in the show.

The skilled gardeners of the NYBG tend to the care and feeding of the many plants and flowers but you have to tend to your own feeding after a visit to the NYBG. We did so by driving to Dominic’s on nearby Arthur Avenue. Lunch for two cost $39: glass of house red, Italian bread, salad, broccoli rabe, and eggplant “parm.” Dominic’s serves family style; there is no menu, you just tell the waiter what you want, or he will tell you what is available. Every dish is great in this wondrous establishment.


1. My wife remarked that is was a good thing the NYBG has posted the number of flowers, for if they had not I would have undoubtedly spent several minutes trying to count them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Pages

  • November 2007
    M T W T F S S
  • RSS The Wayward Word Press

  • Recent Comments

    daveshields on SPITBOL for OSX is now av…
    Russ Urquhart on SPITBOL for OSX is now av…
    Sahana’s Respo… on A brief history of Sahana by S…
    Sahana’s Respo… on A brief history of Sahana by S…
    James Murray on On being the maintainer, sole…
  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

  • Top Posts

  • Top Rated

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Top Rated

  • %d bloggers like this: