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