Chrysanthemum Viewing: 100 Varieties Grafted on a Single Plant 百種接分菊

Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳/画

One sturdy stalk supports a profusion of chrysanthemums in bloom. The great range of colors includes unusual hues such as pink and purple as well as the standard white and yellow. The sizes and shapes of the flowers also vary. These flowers do not grow naturally on the same plant. They are the work of Imaemon, a gardener and nurseryman based in Komagome, Edo, who applied his horticultural skills to graft a hundred varieties onto a single plant. This floral performance is the culmination of a long process of trial and error. First came the fashion for growing huge chrysanthemum plants with just a single, very large, flower. Some plants were so large that the solitary flower was blooming at a point 4.5 meters high, where it could be appreciated from the second floor of a tea house. Next came competition over how many flowers could bloom all at once on a single plant, with some examples reaching 3,000 blossoms. That led in turn to grafting the finest types of flowers onto single plants. The upshot was Imaemon’s masterpiece, “A Hundred Varieties of Chrysanthemum Grafted on a Single Plant.” These chrysanthemum performances reflected the constantly changing tastes of the people of Edo. After a great many transformations, the kiku ningyo, a life-sized doll covered with chrysanthemums, appeared and has continued to be a staple chrysanthemum season spectacle ever since. This process through which chrysanthemum art became a popular activity reminds us of how much gardening was part of the Edo-period culture of the common people.
Collection of
Edo-Tokyo Museum
Chrysanthemum Viewing: 100 Varieties Grafted on a Single Plant
Collection ID
Utagawa Kuniyoshi
Creation Date
Edo-Tokyo Museum Digital Archives

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