When I visited Takasago-an in 2011, many of Daizo Iwasaki’s best trees were on display elsewhere. That did not, however, mean there was a lack of amazing bonsai to see. Gauging by numbers of each variety in the garden, Iwasaki was most fond of white pines. But with so many trees around, even less prevalent varieties, like the red pines below, could be counted by the dozen.
Big red pine
A number of the nurseries I visited featured similar large red pines with spectacular bark. Many were young in their development as bonsai, but were coming along nicely. A surprising number of them had trunks larger than my waist.
Large red pine
Another large red pine
Junipers, black pines and selected deciduous trees also made their residence at Takasago-an. Many of these too were quite large.
It’s one thing to say there were over 100 giant white pine bonsai in the parking lot, but it’s another to believe it. Row after row of pines like the specimen below filled an area larger than most hobbyists’ gardens.
I don’t remember what was in the middle of the giant grafting project below, and I couldn’t even reach half way to the top of it. Scale did not intimidate Mr. Iwasaki.
Massive grafting project
A small courtyard at the other end of the property held most of the deciduous trees. Many varieties were represented.
Oddly, the workshop was empty when I visited. It must have taken an army to maintain the place.
Nor did I see anyone watering. I’m sure sprinklers helped, but that’s more than one person’s hose duty on hot summer days.
Turning corners was as likely to yield another 1,000 year old tree or a stack of suiseki. Sometimes both. Seeing stones like these on outdoor shelves made me wonder what treasures were kept inside.
Beyond the walls of the garden, Shikoku’s mountains made an attractive setting for this unparalleled collection of trees.
Mountains above Takasago-an
This ends the recapitulation of my 2011 visit to Japan – starting Friday, it’s back to the standard bonsai reporting from the Bay Area and beyond. I hope you enjoyed the Japanese adventure!
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