The Tree Circus

You might call Axel Erlandson a tree whisperer.

Arbosculpturist Axel Erlandson is the spirited mind and talent behind the “Tree Circus,” a collection of unusual trees that became a roadside attraction in 1947 in Santa Cruz. He started shaping sycamores, box elders, and ashes into unusual sculptures in the 1920s, and, at one time, had completed around 50.

After his death, they fell into disrepair; they were finally rescued in 1984 by Michael Bonfante who hand dug, boxed, and trucked them over the Santa Cruz Mountains in what is known as “The 80-Ton Tree Caper.” Today, 25 of them reside at his Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, a horticultural adventure.

GG-Arch-at-Tree-CircusPhoto courtesy of Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park