It’s time for the A to Z Challenge! Hello and welcome to my main blog. My name is Rose Anderson and I’m a novelist. Join me and nearly 2000 bloggers and authors as we blog the alphabet throughout the month of April. It’s not as easy as you might think. There’s a reason Q and Z are worth 10 points in Scrabble!
For me, this year’s alphabet will be about history and historical science– things that tickle my fancy or capture my imagination. I hope you will find them interesting too.
Keep the topic rolling! If you’ve enjoyed the today’s offering and have comments or questions, add them at the end of the post in the comment section. And…if you enjoy romances with unique twists, a good deal of steam, facts, and characters full of personality and depth, scroll down for a free chapter sampler. I love to make the impossible sound plausible. Suffice to say, I have an unusual mind.
We have a large yard surrounding our home and this is the time of year for spring yard work. The other day my husband came inside and said he wanted to show me something growing beside our labyrinth. We walked over to where a cherry and a box elder grew side by side in the fence row. Being side by side like they are, last year they decided to grow together. Two different species wrapping around each other. It had me wondering if the trees would eventually inosculate. That’s a natural process where a tree will graft to itself. You might notice trees like this every once in a while– growth that shaped a keyhole where the two branches grew together, or you might have seen a massive trunk that began when several trees grew together until all were sharing roots and sap. These two trees in my yard made me think of Axel Erlandson.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I enjoyed reading Ripley’s Believe it or Not in the Sunday newspaper’s funnies when I was a girl. I remember seeing a bit about the Tree Circus. The curious California tourist attraction was created in the 1940s by Axel Erlandson, an extremely patient Swedish-American farmer. As the story goes, he noticed how trees naturally inosculated and wondered if this was something he could coax. And coax he did.
Sculpting trees is also known as arborsculpture and it takes time. For Erlandson, this slow motion hobby became his life’s work. When people think of tree sculpting, most often topiaries, hedge rows, and bonsai come to mind. As impressive as those techniques are, Erlandson’s work was so much more. By planting tree seedlings specifically where he wanted with a future project in mind, he created the raw materials for his art. He then bent, twisted, pruned, and grafted these supple young trees into living masterpieces. One his most long-lasting projects began when Erlandson coaxed four trees to grow into a single trunk. He called this first creation the Four Legged Giant. In his invitation to Robert Ripley asking him to come see the trees, he revealed the process took him ten years.
People often asked Erlandson how he managed the tree art but he never divulged his secrets. He merely said, “I talked to the trees.” Not sharing his knowledge was a major regret toward the end of his life for these art trees needed several lifetimes of tending.
A number of people have asked me if there is any one else who can take up this work when I lay it down; but I know of no one that could be trained to continue after me in this occupation. So in a way it would appear that I have learned a kind of profession so late in life that I cannot carry it to near its ultimate possible attainment.
Santa Cruz, California, May 1953
The Tree Circus charged 25⊄ when it opened to post-war vacationers and sported more than 70 trees at one time. It had a 17 year run as a tourist destination until Axel Erlandson passed away in 1964. Future owners didn’t have his skills or his passion for the work. Predictably, Erlandson’s surreal trees fell to neglect. A nurseryman and tree lover bought the remaining 25 circus trees in 1984. It’s been the Gilroy Gardens since 2007. The Four-Legged Giant is now more than 80 years old.
I found these fantastic old pictures and a few before and afters. How magical it must have been.
Here’s a vintage clip from 1966 when Erlandson’s Tree Circus’ new owner called the place the Lost World.
Tomorrow ~ letter U!
My Other Happenings~
Weekend Writing Warriors
There’s still time to try my wild foods recipes on my other blog
Scroll back for all ten. Yum!
My Sexy Saturday
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