Trees of Japan and China

February 28, 2010

Have been looking this morning at a  collection of pictures of Japanese and Chinese trees, taken by early explorers and archived at the Arnold Arboretum. Take the tour! The landscapes, too, and scenes of village life, are endlessly interesting and make me think of Walter Anderson in China, a few decades later. What are the chances he saw some of these trees?  How many are left today? For him they were anything but generic. While drawing trees one day, he rejoiced over their variety: “I suppose eventually I shall reach the archetype; at present, very much the ex-type”– meaning that “type” was hard to find in amid such eccentricity. Some were odd, like him.  “I like the wandering ones– not absolutely freaks but not just the ordinary healthy ones either. There are some wonderfully strange [trees] on Horn Island– years of storm and years of sudden growth, one side retarded and the other growing like a vine.”

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