The shrunken trees at the Huntington Gardens are older than dirt. Enclosed by Japanese-style cedar fences built without nails, and rising up improbably out of shallow pots, the bonsai trees are horticultural masterworks. The Huntington’s bonsai courtyard, built in 1968 and expanded last February, is home to the Golden State Bonsai Federation’s southern collection. Here, you’ll find not only solitary maples, ginkos, Chinese elms, Japanese black pines and California junipers, but entire forests contained within a single pot. One vessel holds 22 tiny weeping fig trees. Twenty-two trees. In a pot. It is a beautiful madness. All the more mad that it takes years to make a bonsai. To prune it, and wire it, and slowly train it. They’ve got an olive tree that’s been under cultivation since 1958. But even that is nothing. Some of the Huntington’s 75-plus specimens were created from original plant materials that have been growing for centuries. They’re spectacular. A welcome antidote to youth culture. 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. (626) 405-2100, huntington.org.
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