"Dwarf Trees" and Suburo Eida

      Suburo Eida (fl. 1900-1910) was an importer and supplier of dwarf trees in the west-central London area.  Some four or five hundred trees at a time, carefully packed in straw and typical Japanese bales,would be received by him to then be brought out of their dormancy.  The following references supply our limited knowledge of this pioneer who was a Japanese Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society.


"Japanese Dwarf Thuja Tree, 150 years old."

"Japanese Dwarf Pine Tree, 25 years old."

        "Mention of Mr. Eida's Japanese dwarf trees and plants was made in THE ART JOURNAL some time ago, and it is interesting to notice that the appreciation of Japanese trees has so greatly developed that Mr. Eida has now to keep a far larger stock of them owing to the increased demand.  The dwellers in London and other large towns have discovered that these beautiful little trees have a wonderful quality of resistance to the pernicious conditions which surround flowers in our rooms.  Instead of the perpetual attention and renewal which ordinary ferns and plants require, these hardy little dwarf trees, in their quaint and picturesque pots, make small demand on our time and care, and in the spring some are a mass of blossom, in the autumn others are covered with berries, which will last a couple of years.

"Japanese Dwarf Maple Tree, 55 years old."

        "Few plants manage to exist for long in the choking atmosphere of town rooms, where artificial light, dust, and draughts all war against their well-being, and one experiences a feeling of astonished gratitude to the little foreigners who bravely hold up their heads and brighten our dark corners with their beauty.
        "To our European minds the age of these trees appears unnatural, many being fifty, a hundred, or even two hundred years old.  The imitation maple trees arc particularly attractive, with their young leaves of red and yellow, a contrast to the green of the older ones.  The elms and beeches are also pleasing, and the dwarf firs most useful of all, with their everlasting green and bushy branches.  The grey Japanese pots, ornamented with dark green and brown, tone in harmoniously with the grey green colour of the firs.  The dwarf plants are being more and more used for table decoration; they are something new and make a change from the usual floral arrangements, which, lovely as they are, have not the novelty of these specially trained trees, the beauty of which grows the more one sees them.    E. F. V."    per The Art Journal (London: H. Virtue & Co., Ltd., 1900), Vol 62, pg. 350, paragraphs three through five under the heading "Industrial Art."  The previous mention of Eida in this publication has not yet been located.

        In the 1900 edition of Who's Who (London: Adam & Charles Black), on pg. x can be found the following advertisement:

Direct Importer of Japanese Objects of Art -- Genuine only.
S.  E I D A,

        At the Royal Horticultural Society's Temple Show, May 22-24, "Mr. John Russell, of Richmond, showed a large group of shrubs.  All were well displayed, and comprised an interesting variety of things.  We noticed especially Aralia Maximowiczi, the Lilacs, Maples in full beauty, and represented by a choice selectiou of the best kinds, Wistarias in pots, and under the tree and shrub groups Mr. Russell showed a collection of miniature Japanese trees, which seem to have become so popular during the past two or three years... [xi] Japanese miniature trees came from Messrs. Barr and Sons, Covent Garden, and from Mr. S. Eida, 5, Conduit Street, Regent Street,"    per The Garden, Vol. LIX, No. 1540, May 25, 1901, pg. 384.

        "Mr. S. Eida, 5, Conduit Street, Regent Street, sent an interesting lot of dwarf Japanese trees...  Messrs. Barr and Sons, Covent Garden, showed hardy flowers in great variety, including double and single Pæonies, Irises, Tritomas, Heucheras, Brodiæa laxa, Pentstemon acuminatus, Coreopsis, Gillenia trifoliata, Delphiniums.  Pigmy Trees from Japan were also sent" for the non-competitive exhibits of the Richmond Horticultural Society on June 26,    per The Garden, Vol. LIX, No. 1543, June 29, 1901, pg. 475.

        The exhibitors of clipped trees [at the 1902 Temple Show] had this year to compete against others showing specimens of the Japanese dwarfed trees, and between them they were very curiously inspected by a large proportion of the visitors.  The largest collection of clipped trees, representing animals, birds, and objects, was again shown by Messrs. W. CUTBUSH & SON, Highgate Nurseries, London, and a very representative lot they were.  Of the Japanese type, which are merely dwarfed or "nanized," the largest collection came from Messrs. BARR & SONS, King Street, Covent Garden, London, who built a neat tent in which to display the plants.
        Messrs. JAS. CARTER & CO., High Holhorn, London, had also a moderate-sized collection in a kind of annexe[sic] to one of the tents.  Another exhibit of the same type was from Mr. S. EIDA, 5, Conduit Street. Regent Street, W,"    per The Gardeners' Chronicle, Vol. XXXI, No. 805, May 31, 1902, pg. 361.

        The Garden, May 31, 1902, in an article listing awards given at the recent Temple Show, mentions that a Silver Flora Medal was given to Mr. S. Eida for dwarf trees, pg. ix.  (The Gardeners' Chronicle for May 31, 1902, pg. 363 listed the winner as "P. Eida.")

        "The fourteenth annual flower show of the Cardiff and District Horticultural Society was held on [July 23 and 24, 1902] in the Sophia Gardens, in beautiful weather....  A centre of attraction was a collection of Japanese Dwarf Trees shown by Mr. Eida, of London, which was one of the chief novelties of the show..."
        "[110]...In the non-competitive section, A. E. Price, of Cardiff, contributed Sweet Peas in vases; while Gold Medals were awarded to Mr. J. Russell, Richmond, Surrey; and Mrs. S. Eida, Conduit Street, London,"    per Journal of horticulture, cottage gardener and home farmer, Vol. 45, July 31, 1902, pg. 109-110.

China and Japan.
        In many respects the gathering of the members of the Japan Society on the occasion of the twelfth annual dinner, which was held at the Whitehall Rooms, Hotel Metropole, on the 7th inst., under the presidency of His Excellency Viscount Hayashi, the Japanese Minister, was, indeed, a notable event.  The good work that the society has performed in bringing the Far East and West in close touch is now acknowledged on all sides; but in securing the attendance of His Excellency Chang Ta-jen (Chinese Minister) and suite we would venture to say that the officers of the Japan Society have taken a step which should go a long way not only towards demonstrating the good feeling which exists between the Middle Kingdom and the Mikado's Empire, but should prove the means of further cementing the friendly relations of these two nations.  Another noteworthy feature of what may safely be termed the most successful dinner yet given by the Society was the charming, distinctly picturesque and harmonious scheme of Japanese decoration, carried out in a fashion that added a brilliance to the scene and redounds the greatest credit on those responsible for the arrangements.  The national colours of Japan were represented on each table in a profusion of red and white flowers, here and there interspersed by dwarf trees -- many of them of great age -- kindly loaned by Mr. S. Eida, a member of the society.
        The names of each of the 235 guests were written upon cards emblazoned with the Japanese Service flag..."    per the Anglo-Japanese gazette, Vol. II, No. II, May 1903, pg. 99.

"A Wonder Garden, Secrets of Japanese Art"
        "Before a transformation scene, the like of which has not been witnessed in England, a Japanese garden-artist of fame explained to me, writes "W.B.T.," in the Daily Mail, the crowning wonder of the Shepherd's Bush exhibition and disclosed some of the secrets of culture.  [RJB Note: The Japan-British Exhibition proper took place in White City, to the north of Shepherd's Bush.]
        "Two separate acres in different parts of the exhibition will be converted, under 100 and more British workmen, into Japanese landscape gardens, representing two of the seven styles or schools prevailing in Japan.  On one site the S-shaped lake is already excavated, and the 16ft. hill is rising.  Quaint stringed and pegged patterns are dotted over the greass and the structure of the bridges -- one over a railway; the others over the lake are mapped out.
        "On this acre a whole countryside will be represented; a high waterfall, lakes, hills, trees, grass flowers, with many other features.  The iris and the lotus lake are side by side; and the supreme glory will be the wistarias, some dwarf trees covered with bloom, some wide and spreading.  All plants will come direct from Japan; the lotus plants and irises and 16ft maples, as well as the 200-year-old dwarf trees, the stones, and the 300-year-old stone lantern towers, with every bit of lichenous and mossy growth carefully protected.  The flowers are coming by way of America, for fear that the heat of the other route should make the lotus and irises flower prematurely.
        "'Size of space does not matter to us,' said Mr. Suburo Eida.  'I can make you a complete garden -- lakes, bridges, hills, trees, and the rest -- within six inches square, or I will plan a five-mile garden.  You have only one real Japanese garden in England and one in Ireland.'  And when I suggested Holland House, often quoted as a model Japanese garden, he said: 'Oh, that is more like a jungle,' and he added some very contemptuous criticism of the abomination of planting out flowers in beds.
        "A miniature garden, 12ft. by 7ft. -- designed by the famous Taikoyen -- is to be exhibited; but Mr. Izawa and Mr. Eida rely on the bigger gardens to convert English people to the Japanese style.
        "How to grow the dwarf trees has been kept a secret, but Mr. Eida assured me that the secret was continual labour along the following lines.  After some years' growth the tap root is cut, then every year the tree is repotted with necessary root trimmings; and, for the rest, growth is arrested by continually changing the tree from dark rooms to light rooms and from cold to hot, with immense care in supplying the exact amount of water.  One of the favourite manures is powdered oil-cake, accurately measured out in teaspoons."    per New Zealand's The Evening Post, Vol. LXXIX, No. 60, March 12 1910, pg. 13.  This is the first reference we have come across as to the manipulation of light and temperature for dwarfing the trees.

There is an additional reference to Eida made in Queensland agricultural journal, Vol 24, 1910, under "Answers to Correspondents," pg. 245, which we are not able to otherwise access at this time.


Other Mentions of Mr. Eida on This Web Site include:

Scientific American Supplement (June 9, 1900) reproduces this article:
DWARF CHERRY TREES IN JAPAN. These grow well in pots. Repotting, if necessary, should be done when the leaves fall off, being careful not to disturb the roots.  If the soil is poor, use a little oil cake and loam, well mixed together.  In any case it is as well to apply this mixture when the leaves drop off at the end of October or beginning of November, so that the mixture is, well decayed by the spring, when the tree starts into growth.  In spring or summer it can be manured again, but the manure must be well decayed by being watered and put in the sun, so as to be well rotted.  In January or February, when the trees are coming into bloom, soak some lentils in water for about a week.  When thoroughly soaked, crush them well up, place in a linen bag, together with the liquid drained from them, then squeeze the bag, when there should be a milky substance from same.  Remove the earth all round the edge of the pot, and pour a little of this liquid all round.  When the tree starts into growth in the spring, if small branches grow out from the other branches, these should be nipped off.  Only those which grow from the main stem should remain.  These trees are best kept outdoors. -- S. Eida, in Gardening Illustrated."  (The source of this quote we have not yet been able to track down.)

Athol Maude (September 1900) "Practically the only man out of Japan who makes it his business to import these curious trees is a Mr. Eida, of London, England.  And one cannot spend a more interesting hour than by going to his nursery, deep in the "Wilds of Suburbia," and examining his collection...";

The Century Supplement to the Dictionary of Gardening (1900) refers to a "Mr. Eida, of Conduit Street,"

Percy Collins (October 1907) "Mr. S. Eida, a Japanese Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, was good enough to supply the writer with some interesting facts relating to the methods employed."  There follows the most detailed single source of information regarding this horticulturist.

Eida is then briefly mentioned in Thomas S. Elias' paper "History of the Introduction and Establishment of Bonsai in the Western World", pg. 28: "...one of the first businesses to offer bonsai for sale was owned by a Mr. Eida who maintained a shop on 5 Conduit Road in London, and another facility on Newburgh Road in Action [sic].  A note in the March 31, 1900 issue of The Gardeners Chronicle announced that he had several miniature, aged trees on sale including tiny fruit trees.  Both the Action and London locations had bonsai on sale."

Per The Gardeners' Chronicle, No. 961, June 3, 1905, pg. 350, At the Temple Show of the Royal Botanic Society, "Miniature trees from China and Japan were on show from Messrs. BARR & SONS, King Street, Covent Garden; and Messrs. CARTER & CO., seedsmen, High Holborn.

Per The Gardeners' Chronicle, No. 962, June 10, 1905, pg. 366, At the summer horticultural exhibition of the Royal Botanic Society on June 7-9, 1905, "Messrs. BARR & SONS, King Street, Covent Garden, London, exhibited a large display of hardy flowers, including Lupines, Irises, Pæonies, Gladioli, Poppies, Pyrethrums, &c.  On the opposite table Messrs. BARR displayed a large collection of dwarf trees in fancy china pots (Gold Medal)."

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