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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

9-11 Memorial Bonsai Forest

This is the story behind the giant forest planting I created in memory of 9-11 with the help of a bunch of  my bonsai students.
 On the night of September 11th, 2001 I like most of the rest of the country was in shock.
That night I dreamed that I made a giant forest planting as a memorial for those that died.
 The next morning I got up and started to build the slab the forest is planted on. Unfortunately I don't have an photo's of that process. Basically I built a frame from galvanized steel pipe, rebar and chicken wire. Over this I laid multiple layers of fiberglass fabric and resin. I added some resin colors and dirt and gravel for texture. I didn't plan this but looked at from above the slab has the same basic shape as Manhattan from about 38th St. down to the tip.
That weekend I went through the nursery and gathered together 110 Foemina Junipers. One for each floor of the World Trade Center. Together with a group of my students over the next couple of weekends, we trimmed,  shaped and wire all of the junipers. They range is size from more than three feet tall to about six inches tall. I also took the trunks of two Foemina bonsai that had died previously and burned and charred them. These were to represent the twin towers.
 A little more than a month after the tragedy the trees were ready to be planted on the slab. A group of us spent that Saturday doing the necessary root work on all the trees. We left the trees overnight soaking in a tubs of water and in their cans. Then on Sunday we planted it on the slab.
 My original idea was to give this to the city of New York as a gift in memory of the events of 9-11. After several years of being bounced around from one city agency to other and being told there was a place for it, then being told there wasn't, I got frustrated with trying to find a home in NYC. At one point people from the Parks Department said they would take it and display it at the park headquarters near Central Park. Then they said sorry we can only take it on a temporary basis. Another city agency told me I'd have to have a $50,000.00 endowment fund to maintain it before they would consider accepting it.
Over the years I kind of gave up on the idea of finding it a home in NYC and its been here at Kimura Nursery since putting it together. There are a couple of public places in Southern California that have expressed a desire to have it a their facilities. I have to replace a few trees this fall but than I'm thinking about having it put on display here in Southern California in a place that get a lot of public traffic.
The following photos will show the process from beginning to end, except for making the slab.
The slab.
110 Foemina Junipers
Working on the trees

The trees ready for the root work

Working on the roots

Ready for planting

The burned dead trunks were put in place first.

Placing the trees.

The planting right after putting it all together.

The planting today ten years later. A few of the large trees died and will be replaced this fall or spring. Other than that that planting is growing strongly and as you can see is in need of a good trimming. Overall the planting is almost eight feet long, three feet wide and contains a 110 Foemina Junipers. Its quite heavy considering we used about 10-15 gallon containers of bonsai soil.

As you read this post take a moment to remember what happened and how it brought the country together. I hope we can find that kind of unity again.


  1. Wow -how much would that cost?

  2. Replies
    1. I don't think this person wanted to buy it, rather I think they were curious how much it would cost for someone to put something like this together.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. where did you get that huge slab?