Published on October 13th, 2013 | by Charu Suri
5 Exploring Kiku, the Art of the Japanese Garden in New York
To be honest, I was not expecting much from the KIKU: The art of the Japanese Garden Exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden.
I went on a dreary Sunday with my family because I knew the Botanical Garden had a solarium, which meant we could duck beneath a glass ceiling and brush shoulders with lanky palm trees in the worst case scenario.
A particularly full and voluptuous chrysanthemum at KIKU
Flatter-than-pancakes lilypads at the Botanical Garden-
A slice of Paris in New York: the jewel-like koi pond
But I ended up falling in love with what Wikipedia calls a ?subshrub?: the chrysanthemum. Originating in China in the 15th century, the chrysanthemum was initially cultivated as an herb. In fact, its disk florets were often boiled and used in teas, and sometimes eaten as a delicacy. In many ways, the chrysanthemum was more bourgeois than imperial, so it took me a bit by surprise to find out that when it was introduced to Japan in the 8th century A.D., the Emperor adopted the flower as his official seal.
The Kiku Exhibit is regal, sumptuous and a display of dazzling architecture and order.
Flowers cascade in boat-like formations. Giant, Gulliver-like chrysanthemums in various colors were all over the exhibit; there were formations the size of flotillas and all grown from a single stem (all 140 flowers grown from a single stem!), and some colors like a deep, rich Wimbledon-like purple I had never seen before.
As one would expect from the Japanese, the arrangement of the chrysanthemums was systematic and beautifully spaced. Architectural symmetry echoed everywhere.
When we finished the exhibit we went outside to see the koi pond studded with white and blue lotus flowers, and the velvety black waters sparkled against the shiny solarium, despite the overcast. I felt as though I was in Paris.
The pop up restaurant offers Japanese-style cuisine and sake, in case you want to top off your experience in authentic culinary fashion. And we were so tempted to get an annual membership (a family membership is just $100) so you can visit any number of times throughout the year (parking is gratis with a membership; otherwise it is $15 each time).
For more information, visit this site.