June 17, 2024

Kiku is the krazy art of forcing multiple blooms from a single stem. Not a culture known to do things by half measures, the traditional Japanese practice is taken to ceremonial extremes in the display currently showing at the New York Botanical Garden, where hundreds and hundreds of chrysanthemums are simultaneously blooming in handmade wooden containers. At first glance you think, how nice, a carpet of pretty mums. But look a little closer and you’ll discover those 412 blossoms are sprouting off a lone stalk that’s been nipped, tucked, trimmed and tied to a complex framework. It’s a bit like the botanist’s answer to foie gras: aesthetically stunning and eerily fetishistic.


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