Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The "Tree Circus" Gilroy Gardens, Gilroy, California

 The "Tree Circus" originally opened in 1947, as a roadside attraction in Scott's Valley California.  Axel Erlandson a bean farmer who pruned, grafted and trained the trees into various shapes as a hobby to amuse himself and his family, went to his grave holding the secrets of his technique. Most of his work was performed behind screens to protect his secret methods from the potential spy!  Since his death in 1964 many have tried to recreate his work unsucessfully, so this method of privacy seems to have paid off.  Sadly now it seems this type of tree "training" talent may never be seen again.

Millionaire Michael Bonfante purchased the trees and transplanted them to his amusement park Gillroy Gardens in 1985, where you can still see them today.  In the winter of 1984 the trees were all carefully hand dug and boxed.  On November 10th 1985 they began their 80 mile journey to their new home a trip that required many permits and the help of 20 local/state agencies to pull off.  Gilroy Gardens is in Gilroy, California and is home to 24 trees from Axel Erlandson's orginal "Tree Circus".

Some of the trees on display are:

The Cage Trees-Crafted of 10 American Sycamore

The Arch-Crafted from 2 American Sycamore

The Basket Tree-Crafted from 6 American Sycamore (and the most intricate of all)

The Chain Link or 3-2-1 Tree-Crafted from a single American Sycamore

The Compound 8-Crafted from a single Box Elder

The Double Hearts-Crafted from what is recorded as a Red Maple (although the species of this tree is often questioned)

The Figure Y-Crafted from 1 Cork Oak

The Four Legged Giant-Carfted from 4 Amercian Sycamore

The Oil Well-Crafted from 4 Box Elders

The Picture Frame-Crafted from a single Cork Oak

The Revolving Door or Compound Square-Carfted from a single Box Elder

The Zig-Zag- Crafted from 1 American Sycamore

Some of the trees formerly on display have been moved to private areas of the park for extra care and attention due to decline.  Hopefully one day we will be able to see them come back on display!


These landmarks are surely on my to do list!

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