On Aug. 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing at least 145,000 people and turning nearly five square miles into smoldering rubble.
Now the decendant of one of the survivors of that attack is coming to Descanso Gardens, 1418 Decanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge.
At 10 a.m. Sunday, two Hiroshima Survivor Trees will be presented to Descanso Gardens by Rotary Heiwa’s Hiroshima Survivor Tree Group, consisting of Rotary members in Japan, the United States and Russia. Heiwa is the Japanese word for peace.
The persimmon trees grew from seeds from trees that survived the deadly blast nearly 75 years ago,
“We are very honored to be receiving these trees,” Descanso Gardens Executive Director Julianne Rooke said in a prepared statement. “They have a beautiful story to tell and will be great additions to our Japanese Garden.”
Three days after the bomb, known as Fat Man, was dropped on Hiroshima, another atomic bomb, Little Boy, was dropped on Nagasaki, killing and estimated 80,000 people.
The atomic aggression came less than a month after the Allied Powers called for the unconditional surrender of Imperial Japanese Forces in the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945. As part of that ultimatum, President Harry S. Truman warned Japan that the country would face “prompt and utter destruction” if its military forces did not surrender, a demand that Japan’s leaders ignored.
After the blast, many experts thought nothing would grow in Hiroshima for decades, but a year later trunks of fallen trees began sprouting new shoots. According to a press release issued by Descanso Gardens, survivors of the bombing described feeling a sense of hope when they saw the shoots growing from trees they thought to be dead. Seeds were taken from those trees and now two persimmon trees that have grown from those seeds will soon have homes at Descanso Gardens.
“I live in La Cañada and am quite aware of Descanso Gardens’ mission and the importance in the community,” said Makiko Nakasone, charter president of the Rotary Club of Little Tokyo and a member of the Rotary’s Heiwa group. “We thought the gardens would take good care of the Survivor Trees for many years to come as a symbol of peace and hope.”
One of the trees will be placed in Descanso’s Japanese Garden. The second one will be placed near the entrance to that area.
Other survivor trees can be found at the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, and at Verdugo Woodland and Monte Vista elementary schools, and at Wilson Middle School, all three schools located in Glendale.
“We are honored they picked us,” said Jennifer Errico, marketing manager at Descanso Gardens. “We think its a really nice addition for our Japanese Garden. We don’t acquire plants often, and when we do we are very careful about how they fit in. … Two or three feet tall and we are getting two of them. Persimmon trees, really beautiful.”
Descanso Gardens is a unique Southern California landscape distinguished by its specialized botanic collections, historical significance, and rare natural beauty. According to its website, the garden’s mission is to practice exemplary stewardship of Descanso’s distinctive character and assets; offer people an experience close to nature; and cultivate understanding of the natural world and people’s place in it through inspiration, education and example.