若葉

Before the leaves appear, nothing but vertical lines

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縦の線が見えます。若葉が出る前のイチョウ、ドコモのビル、そして自転車に乗る人が空を指差す様子。千駄ヶ谷で。

The ginkgo trees before the leaves sprout echo the atrocious Docomo tower in Shinjuku. Even the bicyclist adds to the vertical theme.

Is kanamemochi Tokyo’s best hedge?

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普通の植物が好きで、いつも近所の庭に注目しています。東京で簡単に育つカナメモチという木は一番好きな垣根です。春に赤色の若葉が出て、きれいです。植木鉢でも地面でも、速く大きくなります。僕のベランダに一つあって、手仕事屋久家の庭にもあります。

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.

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Kiwi leaves spreading out on last year’s vine

キウイの葉はきれいな形です。春に、若葉がとても新鮮に見えます。キウイのフルーツのように、男性と女性の木がいるでしょうか。うちのベランダには一つだけしかないですが、たぶんどこか隣に違う性のキウイがあればいいです。

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!

Small oak is sprouting new leaves and flowers

里山の箱の中で、小さな柏が若葉をのばし、花を咲かせています。

This small oak tree in my satoyama box is pushing out new leaves and flowers. I am a big fan of 5bai midori’s modular boxes full of native trees, bushes, and small plants. This box measures only 20 by 20 by 20 centimeters, yet it is full of plants and surprises. Some of them are evergreen, and it’s fun to watch the rest of the box revive in spring.

Update: I found the tag, and the tree is called konara in Japanese (コナラ). It’s an oak, with the Latin name (Quercus serrata). It’s a very typical Japanese forest tree, and its ample sap attracts good beetles like kabutomushi (カブトムシ). I wonder if we’ll get acorns out of this tree.

New leaves welcome new school year

東京の小学校で、ケヤキの若葉が新しい学期を祝っています。

The new leaves on this old zelkovia welcome a new school year at the elementary school in Nakano. In Japan, the school year, new hires, and the new fiscal year all start on April 1. Most schools have a cherry tree which is often in full bloom at school start. The zelkova leaf out in the following weeks. More subtle than cherry blossoms, new leaves are a lovely spring sight.

I’ve taken photos of the same tree in late winter last year.

Zelkova are leafing out on Omotesando

表参道のケヤキの若葉が出てきています。

Zelkova, called keyaki in Japanese (ケヤキ), are a gorgeous Tokyo street tree. The best boulevards of mature zelkova are in Asagaya and Omotesando. Here you can see the branches are just leafing out. In the back of the detail image is Itoh Toyo’s sculptural building for Tods that appears to be built of zelkova branches rather than steel.

I have been working most of March and early April in Nishi Azabu Juban, and I often bike to the office. Biking in Tokyo is fun for discovering back streets, but its also fun to speed along a straight boulevard, especially one with such a magnificent canopy. These photos were taken near my new favorite retro van turned into mobile espresso shop, Motoya Express.