Apart from the overall beauty of the place, the most memorable feature of Ritsurin Garden its collection of pines. Each is old and well cared for, like Tsurukame-matsu (crane and tortoise) below. From the park brochure, “A black pine tree resembling the shape of a crane spreading its wings planted in a turtle-shaped stone planter made from 110 stone blocks.”
Crane and tortoise
From a distance, the pines are collections of green puffs.
Pines along the pond
Up close, one can see evidence of the hard work that goes into these trees.
Well-developed branch pad – where are the old needles?
Collections of pads form the silhouette of each tree.
The soft outline of a black pine
The park has hundreds, if not thousands of pines. Somehow, each has received painstaking care to produce some of the greatest curated pine vistas I know of.
Small green clouds
Having pruned pines in landscapes for a number of years, I marveled at the resources required to maintain such a place. One famous path ran beneath a low canopy of pines that provided a great silhouette of the branches.
Cascading pine branches
Occasionally red pines would dot the landscape.
Red pine bark
But more often the pines in the garden were black.
Black pine branches
One of the more famous trees at Ritsurin is a large white pine growing between the Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse and Nanko Lake. From a sign posted at its base, “Neagari Goyomatsu – This is a grown-up dwarfed pine transplanted from a flower pot to the ground. Ienari Tokugawa (the 11th Shogun) is said to have given the tree to Yohiro Matsudaira (the 9th lord) in 1832.”
Tokugawa’s gift – exposed root white pine
The exposed roots
Ritsurin is a pretty special place, reason alone to visit Shikoku. I can’t wait to get back.
Pine leaning over the water
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