"Dwarf Trees" from the Atlantic Monthly

       "Japanese Plants in American Gardens" (1901):

       When one hears of Japanese trees, it is not the great hemlock forests of Lake Yumoto nor the giant Cryptomerias of Nikko that come before the mind, not the blossoming trees of Elizabeth's German Garden nor even the little yellow-tipped evergreens of our own lawns, but a horticultural curio,--a miniature tree, marvelously gnarled and dwarfed, with a pedigree going back to the time of Cromwell; a result of Japanese brains and Japanese ingenuity, but certainly no adequate representative of nature's work on Japanese soil.  There are even heretics among us, who regard the curious little trees in much the same light that Sir Francis Bacon regarded the yews, carved in the shapes of animals, which adorned Queen Elizabeth's gardens.  'These be for children,' said he.
       But the ancient dwarf in its blue-and-white jardiniere is the smallest part of our debt to Japan in horticulture.  It is now nearly forty years since her plants were first brought to this country, and in that time the different varieties have become so diffused, so assimilated with our own species, that only those plant lovers whose affection extends to the prosaic details of botanic name and origin realize how many of the natives of Japan have made their home with us.


1     Duncan, Frances  "Japanese Plants in American Gardens" (Atlantic Monthly, September, 1901), pp. 403-404; per Japan, The Official Guide (Tokyo: Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways, 1933, 1941) pp. 351-352, 354:  Nikkō is the magnificent mountainous site of a large mausoleum and shrine built by Tokugawa Iemitsu -- shōgun 1623-1651, who is known to have raised dwarf potted trees himself -- to honor his grandfather Ieyasu.  For over two centuries the shrine was presided over by an imperial prince.; per The Guinness Book of Records 1993 (New York: Bantam Books, 1960..1993), pg. 130: over 13,500 of Nikkō's original 200,000 Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica), which were planted between 1628 and 1648, survived by the late twentieth century.  The average height of the trees is about eighty-nine feet.  They form the world's largest avenue of trees, which is in three parts totalling twenty-two miles and ends in Tochigi Prefecture.  Nikkō is perhaps seventy-five miles north of downtown Tokyo; Cromwell (1599-1658) was lord protector of England.  Bacon (1561-1626) was a philosopher/statesman who became lord chancellor (1621) after the time of Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603).

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