Unlike real horticulturalists, I enjoy planting common plants that I’ve seen in my neighbors’ gardens. This year I am convinced that Kanamemochi (Photina) is Tokyo’s best hedge. In spring the new leaves are a beautiful deep red color. Whether in a pot or in the ground, this member of the rose family, related to apple trees, grows quickly, thickly, and can be shaped easily. I have one hiding my washing machine and providing evergreen privacy between my kitchen and the neighbors outside my window. I also planted one at Kuge Crafts in order to provide separation from a pesky neighbor. Very quickly, that single plant is growing wide and creating a living fence.
These photos, from my telephone, show the narrow balcony garden awakening in spring.
I love the shape of this kiwi vine’s leaves. They look so fresh and new. I am not sure if you need a male and female kiwi to produce fruit. I hope one of our neighbors has the right sexed kiwi to activate ours!
Omotesando Koffee の入口はとても素敵です。美味しいコーヒーが飲めるだけじゃなくて、小さい庭が四季を感じさせてくれます。春に、桜とモクレンが咲いていて、金属製の花瓶には毎週、違う花がいけてあります。おしゃれなお客さんは三年以上の常連で、バリスタオーナが東京に来る前に、大阪のカフェにも行きました。
This is the lovely entrance to Omotesando Koffee. It would be enough just being one of Tokyo’s best espresso coffee bars. O K also sells a single pastry that is eggy and square and incomparable. And O K has a micro-garden that is incredibly charming, with many traditional Japanese plants including maple and a lovely drooping cherry tree with long stemmed flowers.
The fashionable gentleman in the photo explained to me that he used to drink coffee at the Osaka coffee bar run by the same owner, before he moved to Tokyo three years ago. In the foreground is a lovely, metal sculpture and flower vase with understated petals.
Visiting Omotesando Koffee you feel like you’re on a country lane, not in the middle of a mega-city.
I love sensing spring’s arrival on my Tokyo balcony. First butterfly of this year, more birds, blueberry bush flowering, strawberries taking shape.
Two tone flowers and variegated leaves make these tulips very extravagant. I also like how the seller reinforces the idea that they were flown or shipped from the Netherlands. I was amazed to find these “Top Lips” tulips at the local home center.
Some garden purists insist on growing from seed or bulb. I don’t mind mixing up seeds, starters, and buds. With the small space of a 4 square meter balcony, it’s nice to let the nurseries do some of the preparation so we can enjoy more variety and color.
This azalea is blooming in two colors on a wet spring day. Azaleas remind me of the mid-Atlantic in the United States, as they are commonly planted with Japanese maples, rhododendron, and flowering cherry trees. The rhaphis palm that serves as a companion plant is better suited to Tokyo than the frost-prone mid-Atlantic. In Tokyo, azaleas are often planted in low hedges alongside boulevards, as well as in traditional and small residential gardens.
My friends John and Ruth McCreery sent me these wonderful photos of their guerrilla garden in Yokohama. The McCreery’s adopted a neglected patch of land between the road and the parking lot of their large residential complex. I like how they captured the odd feeling at New Year’s in the Tokyo region when you see plants typical of all four seasons all thriving. Plants that I recognize include large leafed taro, red maple leaves, and blooming daffodils.
Maybe nothing is more typically winter in Japan than the presence of all the other seasons!
Update: Later I received an email from Ruth explaining how the taro plant arrive in the garden unexpectedly:
To me, the taro plant is hysterical.
People dump unwanted plants (and other things) in our guerrilla garden. The taro is one. It landed near the compost heap, and thrived. Soon it was crowding out the Japanese iris, but it was so vigorous that we hated to axe it. Transplanting a fairly large plant can be tricky, so we waited until last February, when it was seriously cold, dug a big hole, filled it with the compost it loved, and moved it over there. We then watched anxiously, wondering if it would accept the move, if the wind in the new spot might discourage it–or blow it over–or if it would continue to grow.
It’s about doubled since then!