Six men on ladders prepare for new year

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はしごの上で、六人がお正月の準備します。代々木公園の松はきれいでしょう。

The pine trees should look their best for the new year. At Yoyogi park.

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Insect skirt made of rice stalks decorates pine trees at traditional Japanese gardens

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日本庭園で見かける、こも巻きという藁の腹巻きは、季節を思わせる、きれいな手法ですが、実際は、松を守ることに効果的じゃないそうです。悪い虫を食べる良い虫も駆除してしまうからです。皇居の庭では、この手法は、もう使わないそうです。

This rice stalk skirt is a beautiful and seasonal Japanese garden craft. The intent is to naturally attract and remove harmful insects, although now it seems that some famous gardens no longer use it because it traps both harmful and beneficial insects.

At Imperial Palace, few landscape elements create grand exterior

いつも自分の庭に新しい植物をもってきます。皇居の近くで、数は少ないけれど大きな規模に感動しました。松と水と石は本当に素敵です。

As a gardener, I am a maximalist with my own small space. Approaching the Imperial Palace from the Marunouchi business district, I am struck by the grandeur of using few elements at an enormous scale. Pine, water, and stone.

Giving this pine tree a little off the top. Skilled pruning creates a living shape.

松の剪定するとき、たくさんの小さな松葉が落ちてたまります。明るいの冬の日、茶色の芝生の上に、松葉が積み重なりました。熟練した作業と道具がぴったりに生きているかたちを創造します。剪定するところを見て、できばえがさらに素敵に見えました。

I love how these traditional Japanese pines in Shinjuku Gyoen are so meticulously pruned. On this clear winter day, I love how you can see the pine needles accumulating against the brown lawn. Three ladders, red traffic safety cones, helmets, and no doubt some great pruning shears.

Lovely sidewalk garden at Kichijoji plant store

花屋さんが世話をした歩道の庭は日本的で、同時に国際的です。最近、ブドウが熟して、オーナーと一緒にブドウを2つ食べたところです。日本的なところは、たとえば、カンノンチクという椰子と松があります。お店は、もうすぐ吉祥寺のちがう場所へ引っ越します。次の歩道の庭が楽しみです。

My favorite Kichijoji plant store is moving soon. I have long admired the owner’s meticulous sidewalk garden, full of surprises. Here are perfect grapes, two of which we have just eaten. The garden is a long narrow strip with some more plants in a light well and the stairway to the lower level entrance.

I like the mix of exotics like grapes, with traditional Japanese plants like pine and raphis palm, plus ferns, cactuses, and so many more plant types. The incredible variety of plants and the impeccable maintenance show off the gardener’s skills and wide interests.

More photos after the jump.

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Winter pine at Shinjuku Gyoen

一月の松は一番きれいだ。剪定がとてもよくされている。

With skilled pruning, Japanese gardens have stunning pine trees, often at their most beautiful in January. The needles are straight, and the branches are pruned over many years to wiggle. Tthe canopy is at both airy and precisely defined. You can find a beautiful pine tree at almost every traditional Japanese garden and also paired with modern architecture and as bonsai. This tree is by the pond at the Okidomon Gate at Shinjuku Gyoen (大木戸門)

Mini pine forest outside Japan Supreme Court

Miniature pine forest outside Japan Supreme Court. In 1970s, traditional garden joined Brutalist architecture. Would love to see traditional garden with urban forest today.

最高裁判所の外にすてきな松の小さな森がある。70年代に日本庭園とブルータリスム建築は一緒になった。将来は日本庭園と都市の森は一緒になれるかな。

Walking in Chiyoda-ku opposite the Imperial Palace, I saw this forest of beautiful stunted pine trees above a stone wall. At eye level, there appear to be hundreds of carefully twisted pines whose canopy is less than one meter from the ground. Behind this gorgeous sea of needles is the Supreme Court of Japan (最高裁判所), a 1974 Brutalist concrete building that won awards for its architect Shinichi Okada.

I love the stone wall and the pine forest. In my dream, the once avant-guarde building could regain its ぷprominence by using the concrete structure to support a dense urban forest on its walls and roof. The wildness of the forest hill would contrast nicely with the austere pine forest serving as a formal moat to this newly enlivened public building. The contrast would be magnificent.

While I love the chaos of DIY gardens and the lushness of urban forests, there is also room for traditional Japanese gardens and techniques in the urban landscape, particularly around important public buildings. The contrast between heavily manipulated and more natural landscapes is a new concept at which Tokyo can excel.