Kiku in the Autumn Japanese Garden at the New York Botanical Garden

November 11, 2009

For the past two years, chrysanthemums trained using traditional Japanese methods have been the centerpiece of

The New York Botanical Garden’s lauded autumn offerings. This year the Botanical Garden presents more

chrysanthemums than ever, showcased among the splendor and diversity of Japanese garden plants. In a Mum

and Bonsai Garden, large installations of contemporary display styles such as cones, columns, and spheres join

two traditional Kiku displays (“Thousand Bloom” and “Driving Rain”) pioneered by the chrysanthemum

masters at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo and recreated by the kiku experts at the Botanical

Garden. Kiku in the Japanese Autumn Garden features most of the 13 different horticultural classes of

chrysanthemums, providing the opportunity for visitors to learn about the fascinating history of the mum as it

traveled from its native China to Japan and ultimately to the West.

This marks the final year of the Botanical Garden’s elaborate presentation of kiku. Botanical Garden experts work up

to 11 months each year to grow, train, and shape the kiku on display. Cultivated from tiny cuttings, the plants are

pinched back, tied to frames, and carefully nurtured.  Flower buds develop as the autumn nights grow longer, and in

late October the plants burst into bloom, a true celebration of the changing of the seasons.  At Kiku in the Japanese

Autumn Garden, four traditional kiku styles will be displayed in the Conservatory Courtyards:

o Ozukuri (Thousand Bloom):  In this highly complex technique, a

single chrysanthemum is trained to produce hundreds of simultaneous

blossoms in a massive, dome-shaped array.  Ozukuri are planted in

specially-built wooden containers called sekidai.

Permission of the New York Botanical Garden

Permission of the New York Botanical Garden

o Ogiku (Single Stem):  These plants feature single-stems that can reach

up to six feet tall, with one perfect bloom balanced on top.  Each

chrysanthemum pot is buried horizontally and the plant stem is bent,

precisely arranged in diagonal lines that decrease in height from the

back to the front of the bed.  The plants are then arranged in color

patterns resembling traditional reins called tazuna-ue (horse bridle).

Permission of New York Botanical Garden

Permission of New York Botanical Garden

o Kengai (Cascade):  This technique features small-flowered

chrysanthemums that are more typical of the wild varieties. They are

trained to conform to boat-shaped frameworks that cascade downward

like waterfalls for lengths of up to six-and-a-half feet.  The result is a

burst of hundreds of tightly clustered blooms.

o Shino-tsukuri (Driving Rain):  These displays use Edo-variety

chrysanthemums, with blossoms that open wide, accentuating two

different colors of the flower, inside and out.  Each flower has three

kinds of petals―quilt, spoon, and flat―and change shape as it matures,

curling inward like a pinwheel.


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