Photographs from the Domoto Bonsai Nursery, Hayward, CA 1992-1995

Human beings create their own spaces in the world and infuse them with life and the energy of a lifetime's work. These spaces grow and change as we do, reflecting our prosperity and health. Sadly, they also decline as we do, eventually fading, cracking, and crumbling.

Toichi Domoto, the son of first generation immigrants, was born in California at the turn of the 20th century. The Domoto family had established itself in Hayward, California, and had rapidly became involved with the burgeoning California flower market. Ownership of the family's Hayward nursery passed to Toichi when he was ready, and he spent the rest of his life caring for it, even when it was no longer a viable business.

For the past 60 years, this place has been a palimpsest of green growth, a story written in trees and flowers again and again. A life's work and a lifetime's dream, every corner of the nursery became an expression of a man's love for the world. These photographs attempt to hold still some places and moments in that constantly changing place while it still had the marks of Toichi's vision and care. Shortly after they were taken, Toichi became unable to move about the nursery any longer, or even see his trees and flowers, and the nursery suffered.

With Toichi's death in 2001, the nursery is no more, both figuratively and literally. It has lost its animating spirit. Its trees are gone, its buildings run-down, and many are gone entirely. Now it is a memory of a place where children grew up, where dreams were made real, and where one man's love for living things sprouted, blossomed, and grew strong.