Special exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden through November 18.

Metaphorically speaking, there’s something unsettling and sad about taking living beings, denying their natural beauty, and forcing them to conform to a standard not their own. But in this case, we’re talking about chrysanthemums (kiku in Japanese), not people, and the results are so extraordinary that even I can’t work myself into too much of a huff over thematic implications.

The botanical garden’s Kiku exhibit showcases traditional Japanese techniques of cultivating the colorful flowers. Plants are trained over a course of months to develop the blossoms for various established forms, supported by frameworks of wire, bamboo, and wood.