The World’s Most Crooked Trees… The Photos Are Beautifully Twisted.

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Axel Erlandson was a Swedish-American farmer who started doing something amazing in California in 1901: He started manipulating the trees, bending, pruning, grafting and shaping them into works of art.

His collection of trees (now all grown up) are called the Circus Trees. What started as a private passion for Erlandson turned into his life's work. Bending and breaking branches to his desired shape, Erlandson did something that we didn't even know was possible.

His work sparked a phenomenon in the area, with many newspapers reporting on his peculiar pruning, as well as many people requesting to have one done in their own backyards. You can see some examples of Erlandson's work below.


Gilroy Gardens

Erlandson said that he was inspired by God to start this project, controlling the growth and design of his treee.

Gilroy Gardens

Erlandson began to practice their particular art form privately, as a gardener, but one day his wife and daughter realized that they could capitalize off of sharing his work with tourists. 3

Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens

In 1947, his collection was dubbed the Circus Trees.

Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens

In 1964, Erlandson fell ill and decided to sell the site where he kept his trees. Ownership changed hands several times, and there was worry that the trees would fall into disrepair.

Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens

A man named Michael Bonafante eventually bought the property, and you can still travel to see these trees today -- there are over 70 trees on view, and 25 of them are Erlandson's originals.

Gilroy Gardens