"Miniature Landscape Garden" from Garden and Forest


       "The Columbian Exposition, Japanese Horticulture at the Fair" by L.H. Bailey (1893) includes these lines:  

       JAPAN makes four general horticultural exhibits at the Fair -- a garden upon the island, a garden in the north wing of the Horticultural Building, a collection of models, drawings and pots in the dome gallery of the same building, and a display of wines in the south or viticultural pavilion.  The garden upon the island lies beside the Japanese Building.  It may be divided into two parts, one representing the garden proper, and the other showing a collection of nursery stock.  To one who has read much of Japanese gardening and who expects to see a characteristic miniature landscape with grotesque trees, this creation is disappointing.  The garden is simply a succession of low, smooth, grass-covered mounds with a few narrow walks winding about, and a hapless dearth of anything Japanesque in its planting.  There are two obconical Pinetrees about four feet high, and perhaps twenty-five years old, but beyond these there is nothing striking among the plants, although there are good small specimens of Sciadopitys verticillata, Cryptomeria Japonica, and very small varieties of Azalea Indica.  This so-called Japanese garden was planned by a builder who was concerned in the construction of the temple, and the Japanese gardener, Izawa, freely declares that it in no sense represents Japanese garden-art.  The nursery portion of the island display suffers from too much land.  There seemed to be land to spare upon this end of the island, and it was turned over to the Japanese, who had asked for less, and had also brought plants for a smaller area.  Nevertheless, the exhibit has intrinsic merit, especially in showing some forty varieties of the Japanese Maple, Acer polymorphum, twenty-five of Tree Pæonies, and about 150 varieties of Iris Kæmpferi.  Sterculia platanifolia, rarely seen as a temporary lawn-tree in the north, is also conspicuous.  Two Maples, which are less than head-high and are about fifteen years old, are grafted with some twenty-five varieties each, and they presented a most unique combination of color in May and June. 
       The garden in the Horticultural Building is undoubtedly a good example of Japanese art.  While it is only twenty-two by 140 feet in extent and aims to present landscape-features, it contains no less than 2,000 distinct plants.  It represents such a garden as may be adjacent to a dwelling-house.  A walk winds through the middle of the area lengthwise, crossing an arched bridge and pond near its middle.  Upon either side of this central walk are miscellaneous collections of plants, so thickly planted as to nearly hide the earth...
        A rustic box, about five feet long by three feet wide, standing upon a foundation of stones, shows a miniature landscape-garden.  There are hills and dales, three bridges, five houses, a dwarf Thuya obtusa and Pinus densiflora, each many years old, five minature Ardisia-trees, and no less than twenty other plants in this little space, together with a large and irregular water-basin.  This is a plan or model of a Japanese garden.  It is such a plan as the Japanese gardener always expects to make before he proceeds to the improvement of grounds.  It serves the purpose of a map.
        There are many curious plants in this garden.  The chief interest centres about two twisted trees of Thuya obtusa, which are three to four feet high, and a hundred years old.  Dwarfed and contorted Pines and Maples, the latter often bearing many varieties in the same top, are also conspicuous... 1


1     Bailey, L.H.  "The Columbian Exposition, Japanese Horticulture at the Fair," Garden and Forest, August 30, 1893, pg. 369.

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