Japanese Hill and Pond Garden at the Brooklyn Botanical gardens in New York

I have just returned from a brief holiday to New York and was fortunate enough to visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens whilst I was there. It is a stunning place with a fabulous Japanese Hill and Pond Garden which is considered to be the masterpiece of Japanese landscape designer Takeo Shiota.

Japanese Hill and Pond Garden

It was first opened to the public in 1915 and contains a shrine dedicated to the Shinto god as well as lanterns, stones, bridges and other wonderful architectural elements. In addition to a fine collection of Japanese flowering cherries and tree peonies with the grounds, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens has the C.V Starr Bonsai Museum which is currently hosting the McCormack bonsai collection. One tree history that stood out was at the entrance and was Fudo the Sargent Juniper (Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii.

Sargent Juniper

According to the sign next to the tree, legend has it that this tree, already with many centuries of life behind it, was removed from its mountain home above the Itokawa river by an old man, Tahei, in 1858.

Sargent Juniper sketch

It eventually became part of the famous collection of the world-renowned bonsaiman, Mr Kyuzo Murata, in Omiya, Japan. Sadly, the tree died in 1971, some months after arriving from Japan. As a conservative estimate of its age, arrived at by counting its annual growth rings, ‘Fudo’ lived some 800 years.

The whole exhibit was excellent and the museum was renovated in 2005 and provides an ideal setting to view the bonsai trees on display. Here is a selection of the trees from the collection.

For more information around the history of bonsai at the gardens and to see other trees that have been on display at the museum visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens website.