Here at Rutgers Gardens, we celebrate plants of all kinds. We are recognized for our various gardens, particularly the Donald B. Lacey Annual Display Garden. But the unsung heroes, which serve as both a shade-providing canopy and backdrop to all of our other features, are the many mature trees on the grounds. While some provide fleeting shows of spring color and dazzling autumn displays, much of the year they blend inconspicuously into the background, despite their size. In order to bring much-deserved attention to these beautiful specimens, we wanted to do something extra special for Arbor Day this year.
A term not widely known, except among crafters who have encountered it, “yarn bombing” is the act of covering objects and structures with decorative displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fiber art. In towns and cities around the globe you will occasionally encounter random displays, adorning objects such as benches, mailboxes, lamp posts, and telephone poles. It is often carried out by a group of crafters, under the cover of night, appearing as if out of nowhere the next day. While our version took a couple of days to install, we kept it pretty well under wraps, dropping just a few breadcrumbs about the exciting exhibit to come. On April 26th, in honor of Arbor Day, we officially unveiled our one-of-a-kind art installation.
Volunteers and staff members of Rutgers Gardens have worked all winter to construct bright, colorful, handmade coverings for 16 different trees, some with as many as 4 separate trunks. The individual crocheted and knitted coverings range in size from approximately 50 square feet for large, single-trunk specimens, to about 6 square feet for small branches and multi-stemmed trees, requiring significant yardage of yarn. Although installed for Arbor Day, the creations will remain on display for several weeks, to be enjoyed during our Spring Flower Fair plant sale (May 10–12th), and throughout National Public Gardens Week (May 13–19th). In addition to the many trees here at the Gardens, we have also adorned the fence along Ryders Lane with bright, crocheted flowers, and you can spot a tree on College Avenue, as well as one on Cook/Douglas Campus that is decorated just in time for Rutgers Day.
In the past, Rutgers Gardens has partnered with crafters and artists to display various temporary art installations; however, this is an exciting first, featuring parts of the garden not only as the setting, but in fact, as literal canvases. We hope that you will visit in person to see it for yourself and appreciate not only the time, effort, and care that went into it’s making, but the big, beautiful trees that wear it with pride!