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Bonsai! Botanic Garden celebrates a great unnatural beauty

for The Brooklyn Paper

To the list of things that get better with age — wine, cheese, your always-gorgeous wife — add something else: bonsai trees.

And on Friday, those hand-crafted wonders will be celebrated with a Japanese-themed party at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Some of the specimens in the Garden’s spring exhibition, “Graceful Perseverance,” have celebrated a centennial; one time-defying bonsai tree, the White Pine, is more than 300 years old.

“Bonsai is about storytelling,” explained Anita Jacobs, director of public programs at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “To design a tree takes many years and usually they have been under the care of many generations. Each tree is crafted so that its shape is unique to its original environment.”

The Japanese-style reception also includes a Brooklyn bonsai tour led by Julian Velasco, who curates one of the world’s greatest collections of the miniature trees, a sake tasting, a meal of 13 mini-plates of vegetarian Japanese food, a performance by a Japanese folk dance ensemble, and a DJ cranking out 1960s-style Japanese pop.

“It will be a warm, cozy evening where people can eat dinner under the stars in our giant glass greenhouse,” said Jacobs. “Guests will be transported to a magical place but also let their hair down and have some fun.”

“Small Scale: An Evening of Japanese Tapas, Sake, and the Art of Bonsai” at Brooklyn Botanic Garden Palm House [900 Washington Avenue near Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, (718) 623-7200], Feb. 11, 6-11 pm. Tickets $75. The exhibit, “Graceful Perseverance” runs Feb. 2–May 1. For info, visit

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