Brooklyn Botanical Garden: Japanese Cherry trees and Bonsai
I was in Brooklyn New York in May 2013 and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden was 10 minutes away by car from where I stayed. I visited one weekend and entered a kingdom of rare beauty. Over 150 Japanese cherry trees were in blossom. There had been a violent rainstorm the day before and as a result there was a carpet of pink petals turning the path and surrounding green into a panorama of breathtaking beauty.
Was I awake? Was I not stepping inside the inner chambers of Gaia’s heart? Many of these cherry trees were mature and I chose one, sitting on the damp earth , leaning against her strength and feeling a shower of sweet love. At that point I was unaware that it forbidden to sit and to set up an artist’s easels to sketch. In a happy oblivion I entered a conversation with this blossoming being. I was aware of the gathering of the group of about 100 trees all demure and exquisite like Geisha’s. I felt how this takes place at a certain time and for just a moment. I breathed it in as medicine that was made of joy. I was not hindered by the damp or strange glances of the passers by.
I did work with various trees and in one case with the same hybrid oak on two ( see the Hybrid News from Oak in Brooklyn in another file)different occasions. That first visit, I was feasting my senses of sight and smell. There were also hundreds of Japanese “tree” peonies in bloom. They were as substantial and present and I fell in love with many of them. I also stumbled upon the Lilac garden ,it was also in full bloom. I wandered in a lovely dream and put my nose to the blossoms of one bush/tree. Ah-Lilacs, that fragrance which belongs to childhood memories . The house was liberated by the smell of lilacs.
Then I saw the next bush, the blossoms were a different colour and each tiny flower slightly larger than on the first bush. “Oh that is amazing, how lovely” I thought so I came kissing close and drank in that perfume. What? So different than the first? I went from bush to bush smelling each and was carried into a kind of ecstasy beyond any sense of lilac I’d ever had before. Each was different. Later I read there were 150 different varieties of Lilac growing.
At the Brooklyn Botanical Garden there is a large observatory/greenhouse building housing a great variety of tropical and delicate plants. One area is dedicated to a collection of Bonsai trees. I hadn’t considered having conversations with them. At the entrance to the greenhouse was a display which described the intent behind the creation of Bonsaii trees. It was described as an invitation to the viewer to step through the encounter with the tree into their Imagination. Bonsaii trees are created as an invitation into an Imaginative realm! The process of tending the trees was also described. A careful trimming of roots and canopy every year. This way the outer expression of the tree stays diminutive and delicate but still is recognizable as a true tree form just in miniature.
I thought about this in relation to the experiences of the “being” of the tree. What would it be like to be alive “on” the earth but not fixed “in” the earth. Then I thought about what a tree experiences if it can be moved and placed in a new location!!! How many trees experience this? Potted trees perhaps and Bonsai!
I noticed there were several trees that were 80 years old and one over a hundred years old! I became enthused to work with them. I had to work with an obstacle which was that I couldn’t sit with my back leaning against their trunks!!! Also there was a security guard watching the visitors. So I stood near the tree that I was working with , then walked away to work on my paper while sitting on a bench just at the threshold of this room. I was surprised by the strength of the “character” of those trees. The beauty and joyful quality of the beings touched me. I did return and worked with several other Bonsaii.