Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 51) Bamboo Sculpture at Longwood Gardens

18 November 2019


Ikebana Bamboo Collage; All Rights Reserved 2019 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this collage. Prints are available upon request.


My days are made more bountiful when I can combine what allows me to be in a conscious state of bliss: combining art and nature. When they are paired, there is a symbiosis that magically and mystically acts for me as a meditative state. I am able to be with my surroundings and completely eliminate outside influences. It’s a state of flow and tranquility, almost contentment.

And that’s exactly where I found myself this past week: wrapped in a glorious exhibition at Longwood Gardens. The month-long display titled Blooms & Bamboo: Chrysanthemum and Ikebana Sogetsu Artistry, ended yesterday. Truly, it was one of the most extraordinary visual celebrations of art and nature. I was hypnotized by the manipulation and design that the created.

Here is a description from the Gardens website: “[The exhibition was] … designed for Longwood by Headmaster of Sogetsu Iemoto Akane Teshigahara of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana. The traditional art of Japanese floral design, Ikebana serves as an expression of Japan’s deep connection with nature. Spanning more than 600 years of history, this art features hundreds of different Ikebana schools, each developing its own forms that depict the ideal of beauty and grace. One of the most modern of such schools, the Sogetsu School of Ikebana focuses on free expression and is based on the view that Ikebana is a way for human beings to express themselves. Teshigahara shares, ‘Although I have created bamboo installations in a variety of styles in Japan and around the world for more than 20 years, the two installations at Longwood will be the greatest and finest of all, both in terms of scale and bamboo-manipulation techniques.’ The display is rounded out with 23 Ikebana arrangements throughout the Conservatory, as well as a visionary sculpture created by the founder of the Sogetsu School. In support of Teshigahara’s designs, 635 pieces of 26-foot-long bamboo poles were delivered to Longwood last month, representing Japanese timber bamboo, or madake (Phyllostachys bambusoides), and Meyer’s bamboo (Phyllostachys meyeri) of 4-inch and 2.5-inch diameters, respectively. These massive poles of bamboo were harvested from a specialty nursery and landscaping company with well-established groves in Georgia.”

In the Lens section is a collage that captures some of the magnificence of Teshigahara’s masterpiece. I cannot express the emotion that washed over me as I stood in awe and amazement, observing from as many vantage points that were physically possible. As I circled the intricate shape, each location offered a different shape and more intrigue. The combination of the Japanese principles of flower arrangement and the use of bamboo created a work of short-lived enchantment; its existence was ephemeral and a month long. The installation will be removed over the next few weeks, and the bamboo recycled: a fitting circle of visibility to invisibility that will remain in my mind’s treasure trove of site-specific art.

The display exemplifies the ability to take a simple natural form and honor it through various uses of the material. Bamboo has been a mainstay for decades in my gardens, and its limitless applications make it my favorite for outdoor sculptures and supports.

Bamboo exudes a Japanese spirit and that quality was front and center in this exhibition. From the extreme height and width of the sculpture to the small surprises in the interior and external to the contemporary style, the work captivated and inspired. It also encouraged much contemplation.


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24 Responses to Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 51) Bamboo Sculpture at Longwood Gardens

  1. THat’s different from anything I recall ever seeing.

    • Steve, it was extraordinary that the artists/practitioners have (over the years) taken the traditional art of flower arranging and modernized it. Ikebana is a visual joy and its influence was realized in this breathtaking exhibit.

  2. Madhu says:

    The layered textures in your gallery are extraordinary, and your description of the exhibition at Longwood gardens sounds wonderful.

    Merry Christmas Sally!

  3. So much art in the nature! Thanks for sharing your images. So much beauty!

  4. Luanne says:

    Very texturey!!! I love that place–the best gardens I have ever seen!

  5. Lignum Draco says:

    Amazingly beautiful. I’ve been searching for other images online. Having stood amongst the giant bamboo groves in Kyoto, I can imagine your sense of emotion and wonder seeing this, Sally.

  6. Amy says:

    Beautiful and very special time of the year for Longwood. This exhibition must be stunning. Great photo, thank you for sharing, Sally!

  7. Amy says:

    Longwood is truly a special garden. It has such a long history.
    Beautiful images, Sally.

  8. Tina Schell says:

    Lovely images Sally. The exhibit sounds wonderful. Longwood is one of few things I really miss about my life up north

  9. The display may honour natural forms, but so do your imagery. These photos give a vivid idea about the intricacy and beauty of natural forms.

  10. Thanks for sharing this, both in words and in your lovely photos!


  11. Su Leslie says:

    Sounds like a wonderful sculpture, and exhibition.

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