Valley Voices

Homer Gee Greene: The green dragon has left Hanford for Fresno’s Woodward Park

The green dragon has left Hanford and has traveled north to Fresno.

He protected the bonsai garden in a rural setting at the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture. He has moved to an urban park named Woodward Park in Fresno. He is now protecting a new and historic bonsai garden within the perimeter of the Shinzen (Friendship) Japanese Garden.

His new role will be to protect the Clark Bonsai Collection in Shinzen. He is now the guardian of the garden and is responsible for the security and lighting system.

Since the Clark Center was closing, the dragon negotiated a partnership agreement and positive collaboration between the Clark Center, Golden State Bonsai Federation and the city of Fresno. The Clark Center gifted this beautiful and holistic bonsai garden to the Shinzen Friendship Garden. The Shinzen Board of Directors and the Golden State Bonsai Federation Board of Trustees accepted the agreement.

The Golden State Bonsai Federations have two existing collections: Bonsai Collection at Lake Merritt (Northern Collection) and the Bonsai Collection at the Huntington (Southern Collection). The Clark Bonsai Collection in Shinzen will now become their Central Valley Collection.

The dragon’s spirit and body is in the pathways and open area of this “hide and reveal” Japanese-style garden. The progeny of the dragon is the wire that you see on the trunks and branches of some of the trees in the collection. Their job and responsibility is to shape the trees into its aesthetic shape that is envisioned by the curator of the collection.

The green praying mantis in the collection flies from tree to tree in the bonsai forest inspecting and protecting them. The plant list of the species he protects are: junipers, pines, maples, elms, cypresses, oaks, pomegranates, boxwoods, Japanese flowering apricots, persimmons, olives, camellias, hackberries, zelkovas (Japanese gray bark elm), firethorns, cryptomerias (Japanese cedars), white birches, gingkos and liquidambars. The mantis’ hiding place is within the redwood structure of the arbor. There is a traditional Japanese tea house in the garden.

There are over 68 trees in the collection, and approximately 29 trees from the collection will be on display in the viewing area of the garden. The trees will be rotated seasonally. Four seasons of changing vistas of potted and styled bonsai trees.

I look forward to viewing the trees on display in the winter, spring, summer and fall. In the fall, I will see these trees displaying their fall color, dropping their leaves, as they harmoniously flow toward winter dormancy.

In the winter, I will see the winter silhouette of the deciduous trees and the dull green color of the evergreen trees.

In the spring, I will see the budding branches on deciduous trees, then the leafing out of foliage and on some trees, flowering on their branches. On the evergreen trees, I will see the development of new growth on their branches.

In the summer, I will see the robust green color and stature of all the evergreen and deciduous trees on display.

I am eager to visit this garden on foggy days to experience the full effect of a “hide and reveal” Japanese garden. I will also do a meditation to become one with the spirit of this garden. I anticipate visiting the garden after a rainy day to experience all the wet colors of the stones, rock, foliage, branches, tree trunks and the damp colors of the redwood of the garden’s enclosure and arbor.

A Taoist monk transformed into a large olive bonsai tree guards the entrance to the garden and inspires the harmonious balance of the trees.

This monk also wrote the following haiku:

Dragon travels north

Four seasons bonsai forest

Valley Collection

This bonsai collection will put the Shinzen Friendship Garden in Woodward Park on the bonsai map of places to visit and experience the Japanese art. As the organizers and volunteers who have worked to bring this collection to fruition have said, one can sum up this entire experience “as a partnership dedicated to the preservation and advancement of bonsai in the Central Valley.”

Homer Gee Greene Jr. is documentarian for the Clark Bonsai Collection in Shinzen.