Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden

I have to admit that I was not aware of the Japanese word ‘Kiku’ until yesterday, when we visited at the exquisite exhibition ‘Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden’ at the New York Botanical Garden. ‘Kiku,’ you learn at this show, which has taken years to create, is the Japanese word for Chrysanthemum, the most celebrated of all Japanese fall-flowering plants, similar to our fall Mums. But the Japanese master artist, Kodai Nakazawa has transformed these ephemeral colorful flowers by training them to grow in a variety, almost surreal forms into floral sculptures, making them into the center of fall show at the Gardens. It took kiku expert Nakazawa years of overseeing the intricate training of the chrysanthemums at The New York Botanical Garden, which are sculptured into such forms as “Butterfly” and “Bridge.” Today, Kodai is back in Japan, raising a family and enjoying success as one of the country’s greatest chrysanthemum masters, recently rewarded for his years of discipline and artistry with the recognition of becoming the kiku chief at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, one of the premier destinations for chrysanthemum-lovers around the world.

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