Email forward includes several photographs depicting trees that have grown into very unusual shapes and patterns
Photographs are genuine
These trees were grown in Santa Cruz, CA the year unknown, but the man that grew them never told any one how he did it.Then in around 1999 the owner of Nob Hill foods in Gilroy, CA moved them to his park in Gilroy and they are doing well.
These photographs of trees that have grown into wonderful shapes and patterns are circulating via email and have also been posted to various blogs and online forums. The photographs are genuine and do depict real living trees.
According to a history of the trees on the Bonfante Gardens website, these botanical wonders were grown over a number of years by a Californian farmer named Axel Erlandson. The history notes:
This botanical adventure began in Hilmar, California in the 1920’s when Axel Erlandson…, a farmer by trade, observed the natural grafting of two Sycamores. His first major project consisted of fusing four Sycamore saplings into a cupola that he named the “Four-Legged Giant.” Using intricate grafting techniques, Erlandson wove his wonders with threads of living wood. Straight tree trunks became complex and compound designs in shapes like hearts, lightning bolts, basket weaves and rings.
Erlandson developed his tree creations for over 40 years. During the 1940’s and 50’s, the trees were often featured in Ripley’s “Believe-It-or-Not,” “Life” magazine, and other publications. After he died in 1964, his 74 tree creations had no one to look after them and some began to die. During the 1970’s, however, a man named Mark Primack and others did their best to save the remaining trees. Then, in 1984, Michael Bonfante bought the trees for Bonfante Gardens, a horticulture theme park located in Gilroy, California. After careful preparation, 29 of the trees were relocated to the theme park in November 1985. All 29 of the trees survived the relocation. Today, 19 of the trees are on public display throughout the theme park.
Although the photographs are genuine, there is a minor inaccuracy in the description that accompanies them. The trees were moved to Gilroy in 1985, not 1999 as stated in the message.
It would have been a terrible shame if these trees had died due to lack of care and attention. Thankfully, due to the efforts of Michael Bonfante, Mark Primack and others, Erlandson’s famous “circus trees” are still alive and well and located in a safe environment where they can be viewed by a whole new generation of tree lovers.
Last updated: 22nd January 2007
First published: 22nd January 2007
By Brett M. Christensen