Basket Tree.
The Basket Tree.

Circus Trees at Gilroy Gardens

Field review by the editors.

Gilroy, California

Axel Erlandson was a California bean and alfalfa farmer who spent over 40 years growing experimentally shaped trees. After visiting the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, Axel was inspired to open his own attraction, "Tree Circus," in nearby Scots Valley, in 1947. He never told anyone his secrets, and after he died in 1964 his tortured and unique "arborsculptures" -- with trunks coaxed and grafted into hearts and DNA double helixes -- began to die from lack of care.

In 1985 the 25 surviving Circus Trees were acquired by nurseryman Michael Bonfante and trucked nearly 100 miles to Gilroy. Bonfante Gardens opened in 2001 (and later changed its name to Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park). One of its 19 remaining trees is the Basket Tree, six Sycamores melded together in 42 different connections.

Gilroy Gardens also installed a huge circus "tree" as a kids' water playland feature, but it's a fake.

Circus Trees at Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Address:
3050 Hecker Pass Hwy, Gilroy, CA
Directions:
Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. From San Jose/Bay Area: US 101 south to Masten Ave. exit. Take Masten Ave. westbound (turns into Fitzgerald Ave. after you go past Monterey St). At the end of Fitzgerald Ave. turn left on Santa Teresa Blvd. Then turn right on Hwy. 152 (Hecker Pass Hwy.) Entrance is left just past Burchell Rd.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Garlic Capital of the World MuralGarlic Capital of the World Mural, Gilroy, CA - 3 mi.
Garlicgeese SculptureGarlicgeese Sculpture, Gilroy, CA - 4 mi.
Garlic World, World's Longest Braided GarlicGarlic World, World's Longest Braided Garlic, Gilroy, CA - 5 mi.
In the region:
Collateral Damage, Santa Cruz, CA - 22 mi.

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June 3, 2020

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