Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Kiku in the Conservatory, Pumpkins in the Garden

Posted in Around the Garden, Exhibitions on October 3 2013, by Ann Rafalko

kiku3You probably know (or at least think you know) all about bonsai, the Japanese art of growing, tending, and shaping miniature trees in trays. But do you know about kiku? Where bonsai is small, kiku is large. Where bonsai is about long life, kiku is about ephemerality. Where bonsai is about a minimal aesthetic, kiku is about color, pattern, and profusion.

Or at least that is how we interpret this tradition of shaping and tending chrysanthemums in Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden, opening Saturday in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Many of these huge chrysanthemum “sculptures” begin as one single stem, despite looking like brilliant tapestries of many flowering plants woven together. They are tended for months on end to bloom for just a few weeks. There is no way for us to extend kiku beyond their natural lifespan, so to see them in their full glory, you have got to act fast!

As a complement to this stunning exhibition we are offering weekend programming that delves into a variety of Japanese arts. Invigorating taiko drumming, thoughtful poetry readings, ikebana and bonsai classes, and a Japanese pop-up restaurant help immerse you in the Japanese fall festival tradition.


And speaking of fall festivals … Don’t forget about the Haunted Pumpkin Garden! A decidedly American take on everyone’s favorite October holiday, the Haunted Pumpkin Garden runs concurrent to Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden and celebrates all things spooky, kooky, and gourdy.

Little ones will love all the fun activities in the pumpkin-decorated Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, while kids of all ages will marvel at our display of the world’s largest pumpkins (arriving mid-October). Join us for the Giant Pumpkin Carving Weekend, October 19-20, when several of these enormous gourds—winners of global pumpkin weigh-offs—will be transformed by Master Carver Ray Villafane of Food Network fame.

So whether you are searching for contemplation, cultural immersion, spooky adventures, of horticultural marvels, we have you covered at the NYBG this fall! Come join us, and don’t forget to crunch a few leaves underfoot in the Thain Family Forest while you’re here. It’s what fall’s about!