Peter Lik’s Tree Of Life? Not Quite

Dragon's Breath

Fine Art Limited Edition of 200 - This piece is currently over 95% Sold Out, with less than 10 total pieces remaining in the edition. As a result, pricing for this piece has moved into the second tier. Acer palmatum, commonly known as palmate maple, Japanese maple or smooth Japanese-maple (Japanese: irohamomiji, イロハモミジ, or momiji, 紅葉), is a species of woody plant native to Japan, China, Korea, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia. Many different cultivars of this maple have been selected and they are grown worldwide for their large variety of attractive forms, leaf shapes, and spectacular colors.

This Is The Tree. 

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and spent the majority of my life there. In 2008, when I picked up my first camera, I began looking for places inside the city that I could photograph and stumbled across an out of focus, dreamy interpretation of this tree by a fellow photographer named Zeb Andrews. Those of us who lived in Portland at the time were photographing this tree long before Peter Lik ever did. I have returned every year since then, capturing the tree in all four seasons.

   In the city of Portland, Oregon there is a world-famous Japanese Maple tree, located just inside the gates of the Portland Japanese Garden just waiting to capture your spirit and imagination. When you visit the garden and see this tree in person, or view beautiful photographs like the ones I share with you below, you may fantasize about the magic of this tree and the story of where it came from. It is difficult not to envision a small world of fairies or other mythical creatures creating homes here, built from the small ferns that surround it, scavenging the “forest” for mushrooms and other edibles. In reality, this glorious Japanese Maple that helps draw over a quarter million visitors each year to the garden, may have much more humble beginnings than you may think.

History of the Garden

   In 1958, Portland became a sister city to Sapporo, Japan, helping to create a broad interest in Japanese culture. Soon after, several business leaders and the Mayor of Portland decided it would be wonderful for Portland to have a traditional Japanese Garden. On June 4th, 1962, the City Council created a commission to establish the garden on the site of the former Washington Park Zoo. The Japanese Garden Society of Oregon was formed in 1963 by Portland citizens interested in promoting a more intimate relationship between the Peoples of Japan and our city and state. Takuma Tono, a Tokyo Agricultural University professor and internationally recognized authority on Japanese landscape design, was commissioned to design and supervise the development of the garden and he began landscaping the garden that year. In the summer of 1967, the Portland Japanese Garden formally opened to the public. The 5.5-acre Japanese garden is composed of five separate gardens: Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden, Flat Garden, and Sand and Stone Garden.

   This beautiful Japanese Maple tree that so many have grown to love, was not an original planting in the garden. No one is 100% sure of exactly when it was planted, or where it came from. Speaking to Adam Hart, Senior Gardener of the garden, after looking through historical photographs, I was told that this lace-leaf maple was most likely planted sometime around 1971 and is between 65-70 years old. According to Mr. Hart, the tree was not very impressive when it was first planted, so there aren’t many photographs of it from those early days and the photographs he could find showed a fairly small and unspectacular specimen. The origin of the tree is also a mystery, but many of the lace-leaf maples were donated from people in the community and while we are not sure that this was the case, you can see other spectacular lace-leaf maples in the yards of beautiful homes along the road leading to the garden.

Static

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Acer palmatum is a deciduous shrub or small tree reaching heights of 6 to 10 m (20 to 33 ft), rarely 16 metres (52 ft), often growing as an understory plant in shady woodlands. It may have multiple trunks joining close to the ground. In habit, it is often shaped like a hemisphere (especially when younger) or takes on a dome-like form, especially when mature. The leaves are 4–12 cm long and wide, palmately lobed with five, seven, or nine acutely pointed lobes. The flowers are produced in small cymes, the individual flowers with five red or purple sepals and five whitish petals. The fruit is a pair of winged samaras, each samara 2–3 cm long with a 6–8 mm seed. The seeds of Acer palmatum and similar species require stratification in order to germinate.

Maple, Tree, Fine Art, Limited Edition, Portland, Oregon, Color, Size, Shape, Weeping, photo

Believe In Magic

  Each and every season brings about change and rebirth inside the garden and the tree is no exception. It is spectacular all year round and an incredible photographic subject any time of the year.

Japanese Maple Tree, Fine Art, Luxury, Photography, Autumn, Fall, Colorful, Tree, Limited Edition, Portland, Oregon,, photo

SuperNova

The Peter Lik Effect

   World renowned, Australian born photographer Peter Lik has captured numerous images of this tree throughout the years including pieces titled “Tree of Life” “Tree of Zen” and “Inner Peace”. With galleries around the world combined with the natural beauty of the tree itself, it is no wonder that almost every time I share a photograph of the tree someone says “It’s the Peter Lik Tree” or, “I have loved this tree ever since I saw Peter Lik’s version of it…and yours is as good or better!” I guess it just goes to show how the success of an image can follow you and in some ways become a part of who you are as a photographer.

  In early 2013 I began offering a portion of my work as limited edition pieces, including the majority of my photographs of this beautiful tree. Since then I have sold over 1000 pieces from this collection, with the majority of them being large format prints on high gloss ChromaLuxe aluminum sheeting and Acrylic Face Mounted prints. Living Lightning, released in February 2013 as an edition of 200, completely SOLD OUT as of December 2016. Dragon’s Breath, also a limited edition of 200 was released in November 2013 and sold the first 40 pieces in the first 6 months and is now over 95% sold out as well. The success of these images has even caused some to start calling this tree the Aaron Reed tree which I think is equally humorous to calling it Peter Lik’s.

   Despite what others may think or how they choose to reference it, this majestic tree is not Peter Lik’s, nor is it mine, nor anyone else. The greatest value of this tree lies in the fact that it is there for everyone to see, to wonder, to experience and to share in a weird little city called Portland. For those who may have never been and would like to see the garden during the peak of fall color, the 3rd week in October is a pretty good bet for a time to choose to visit. Don’t hesitate, because this tree can change from green to orange to red and finally drop its leaves all in the course of a week. If you do visit, I hope you enjoy the tree and the rest of the garden as much as I have and will continue to, year after year.

   If you are interested in purchasing pieces from my Limited Edition collection, including all of my captures of this tree including “Dragon’s Breath” (95% Sold Out), “Living Lightning” (NOW SOLD OUT), “Static”, “SuperNova” and my newest addition “Heavens Gate”, please visit my website. To view the rest of my work, please visit my online galleries and thank you for your support of the Portland Japanese Garden. 

Heavens Gate

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Heaven is often described as a "higher place", the holiest place, a Paradise, in contrast to hell or the Underworld or the "low places", and universally or conditionally accessible by earthly beings according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith, or other virtues or right beliefs or simply the will of God.