The country and culture that has given us Ikebana – that ever-so-sophisticated art of arranging flowers – has also created an artful way of keeping trees and bushes from falling apart under the weight of snow.

When you consider, that every one of these trees is wrapped and strapped by hand twice a year – putting them “to bed” in the Fall and “undressing” them in the Spring – you realize just how much the Japanese people treasure their nature.

We are not just talking about specimen trees in botanical gardens or public parks. The artistry of straw wrapping is seen everywhere where there is a caring gardener, protective of his azalea bushes or pine trees, be it in a private garden or alongside a public building. The azaleas get wrapped horizontally, so the snow does not crush them asunder. Sometimes they get an additional top layer of woven straw mat. The major branches of the pine trees are held at a strategic point by rope and this rope is then strapped to a central pole.

And in order to force the bloom of early peonies, little huts are built around the plants, oriented to catch the early Spring sun while protecting them from chilly winds.

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