Well, this is definitely one of the most interesting stories I googled this month. After seeing online this “basket tree,” which I thought was natural, I got intrigued by the information under the picture that said it was shaped deliberately so with the help of six trees.
A quick search online of the name “Axel Erlandson” revealed hundreds of pages of the story of this self-taught arborsculpturer (yep, that’s “a tree sculpture”) and the “Tree Circus” theme park he opened in 1947 in Scotts Valley, California, which showed some seventy sculptured trees. Reading the story of these trees is like reading about the history of an art collection, and a nature preservation effort at the same time, it’s really something!
He first started experimenting with trees next to his farm near Turlock, California, and after he retired and bought the plot in Scotts Valley, he transplanted a dozen of his twenty-year-old trees to the new place. The remaining trees were split up after he moved. Since the theme park wasn’t much of a commercial success, he later sold it due to bad health. The new owners turned it into a “plastic dinosaur” theme park, neglecting the trees, transplanting some elsewhere and going out of business couple of times. In the mid 1980s, a Santa Cruz architect led the campaign to save the Circus Trees and about twenty of them were rescued and moved to the now Gilroy Gardens in CA!
You can also check out photos of the scuplutred trees at Flickr .