If someone had asked me what my favorite flower was, I might have said narcissus. That’s because I’ve planted many of them over the years in drifts wherever I lived and they rewarded me with multiplying blooms of great variety: single cups, white ones, yellow ones, bicolor ones, doubles with ruffled collars. They last a long time and have a wonderfully refreshing fragrance when cut in the Springtime and placed in a pottery vase on the kitchen table. So, narcissus would definitely be one of my top choices.
Another one, I have to admit, is the chrysanthemum. This flower has an Asian heritage, especially in China and Japan where ancient chests are decorated with the flower (one of which I won at auction years ago) and it symbolizes royalty in kimono designs and paintings. For example, the “chrysanthemum throne” is the name given whereof the Japanese Emperor resides. When I visited Japan years ago, I noticed potted chrysanthemum plants, not like the ones sold here in the autumn, but a single very tall stem in a flower pot with just one bloom. Perfect and spotless. I had not seen them in this form anywhere else and wistfully thought of going back to Japan to see more of them. I also noticed chrysanthemum sprays that were trained on bamboo supports, arching outwards many feet without a single spent flower showing.
So, when I happened upon the exhibition of Japanese Chrysanthemums at the New York Botanical Garden, I sent the link to my daughter, C., who was visiting NYC last weekend to see “Eugen Onegin” at the Metropolitan Opera. I then realized that the NY Botanical Gardens was in the Bronx, quite a long distance by car from the heart of NYC where she was staying.
We had lunch together this weekend and I thought again about how much I would love to see the exhibit called “Kiku” and that it would be cheaper to drive to the Bronx in New York, then to travel by air to Japan. And the exhibition was only open until this Thursday. I sent out some emails to see if anyone else might be game to go with me but nobody else was able to get away for the day. So, I got gas in the car, changed the CDs to all Bach piano pieces played by Angela Hewitt, a Canadian pianist, took a bottle of water and a Macoun apple, got some cash and I was on my way, starting out at 8:22 a.m. this morning. I arrived about three hours later, having made good time despite a three-lane-to-one-lane merge due to a construction snafu at the Whitestone bridge on the Henry Hutchison Freeway.
After I parked, I went to the cafe where I hoped for sushi but bought a turkey sandwich and some tea instead, carrying my picnic to eat later outside among the courtyards of foliage and flowering plants. Here are photos I took beginning with outside shots of the huge glass conservatories and then the chrysanthemum show (that’s the only word for it!) inside. I hope these images will lift your spirits as much as they did mine today. Plus! you didn’t get stuck driving around the Bronx on the way back when I took a wrong turn! No harm done though. I’m so glad that I went! You’ll see why below.
From this front pool area with the arching bridges of chrysanthemums, you enter a loggia that is filled with displays on both sides:
Behind the huge tableau of white chrysanthemums, I saw a wooden box in which a single stem was rooted, the mother of all flowers, you might say, generating ALL of the blossoms from a single plant stalk. Here’s a photo of it and a plaque that accompanied the other white tableau in the hallway.
a single stem rooted in a wooden box that generates hundreds of flowers
single plant started October 2012 with 432 flower blossoms