PlantTherapy: The Art of KIKU

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Happy Weekend! Detail of the ogiku, a large single blossom chrysanthemum

If I had to visualize an image to start my weekend, it just might be that of the the large mums, the ogiku that grow on a single stem like colored buttercream on cupcakes and are as big as softballs.

Recently, on a very windy morning I stole a few minutes to sneak in and enjoy them at the NYBG. Show summary and slideshow links after the jump...

The Kiku exhibition at the NYBG is a painstakingly manipulated collection of chrysanthemums and trees.

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A detail of the stems being tied and trained

The detail and planning for the chrysanthemum arrangements are staggering. The ozukuri arrangement had hundreds of tiny armatures to support the blossoms. Even the damp earth around the base of the rows of ogiku plants was sculpted to form a single, simple elevated platform.

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Everything was at the peak of brilliant color; the bonsai trees formed an autumn forest in miniature. The Ginkgo biloba bonsai(above) was the one I kept going back to (and wishing I could steal away for my home).

This is not a large exhibit, taking up only the areas around the two outdoor ponds at the Conservatory. But it represents decades of training on the part of the bonsai trees, and almost a year of constant manipulation and stem-pinching to form each flowering chrysanthemum plant. It also is the largest exhibit of this kind to take place outside of Japan. The scale of these single plants can only be fully understood by standing in front of them. In addition there are demonstrations and tours on the weekends, so you can learn more about the culture surrounding this Japanese tradition - even though it will most likely be very crowded for its last two weekends. The show closes November 18th.

matt at apartment therapy dot com