Ikebana and Bonsai at Longwood | Photos

by Elouise

Last Saturday D and I visited Longwood Gardens for a late summer/early fall walk. The flower beds had been put to bed for winter, and the meadow was a seedy expanse of dying yet still graceful grasses. We took a meadow walk, stopped by the children’s railroad display, ate lunch in the café, and then headed over to the conservatory to see the annual Chrysanthemum Festival.

This year the Conservatory went all out with an Ikebana display, a Bonsai display, and Longwood style Japanese Lanterns. Plus thousands of chrysanthemums.

Below are my favorites from the Ikebana display. First, a few things about Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging.

  • Ikebana goes back to Japanese Shinto worship of nature, and the Chinese Buddhist tradition of placing flowers on the altar to Buddha.
  • Today it’s more about flower arranging, following ancient rules and forms. Usually the arrangements are in the form of an asymmetrical triangle.

The exhibit hall is normally set up for musical concerts. This time it’s an Ikebana display of various kinds of Ikebana arrangements. All arrangements are by qualified members of the Ikebana Philadelphia Chapter, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Ikebana International has over 10,000 members in more than 50 countries.

Here’s a look just outside the exhibit hall, back toward the entrance to the Conservatory. You can see Chrysanthemum ‘mushrooms’ popping up, lots of water flowing, and behind all the foliage, lots of visitors!

Turning around from this view, we walked into a large area lined with Bonsai arrangements. Again, this wasn’t a competition, but a display by members of the local Brandywine Bonsai Society. Here are some favorites. I was especially intrigued by the combination displays of ‘large’ and miniature arrangements. The miniatures are shown enlarged; you can also see them beside their exhibit ‘partners.’

Well, friends, I’ve barely touched the Chrysanthemum Festival, and haven’t even begun to show you Japanese Lanterns Longwood style! Stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath. It’s bad for your blood pressure.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 November 2017
All photos taken by DAFraser, 28 October 2017