青山

Gorgeous lettuce shows edibles can be very ornamental in small spaces

heirloom_lettuce_nakano_balcony
このカラフルレタスはすごい美味しくてきれいです。青山のUNファーマーズマーケットで買って、この冬ずっと元気です。

How do you have room to grow food on a small balcony? I particularly love edibles that are also super ornamental. This lettuce looks and tastes great! It’s from the United Nations University farmers market stall that specializes in heirloom vegetables. It’s been easy to grow during winter.

Pomegranate fruit getting ripe in small Aoyama shrine


青山の小さな神社に、ザクロ果実がだんだん熟してきています。

This tiny shrine in crowded Aoyama, next to the Comme des Garcons flagship store, is full of trees, including a mature pomegranate tree. I must remember to come back and try one of these fruits.

Lush green wall in posh Aoyama shopping district

青山に、よく育った壁の庭を見ました。後ろには偽物の教会があって、結婚の大量生産をしているのでしょうか。

Walking to meet a friend for lunch, I passed this beautiful, lush green wall in Aoyama. Is this the wall designed by Frenchman Patrick Blanc? There seem to be several types of stores here, plus a faux church wedding mill in the back.

Streets are icy. Please don’t slip!

東京にはあまり雪が降りません。いつもすぐに溶けてしまいますが、最近は超寒くなったので、東京の道に氷が多いです。チャリに乗っているときや歩いているときに、ご注意ください。

In Tokyo, it rarely snows, and when it does, it’s usually gone within minutes or at most a day. It’s been super cold recently, and there’s been ice on the roads for some time now. Please be careful on bike or on foot.

A walk through Harajuku backstreets on a hot summer day

原宿の路地を歩くと、いろいろな庭を見ることができます。おしゃれな建物のグリーンカーテンや戦前からある伝統的な日本庭園もあります。私が好きな庭はシンプルで、たくましくて、さりげないです。大きな青山団地でトマトとゴーヤを見つけました。

With @luismendo visiting from Amsterdam, my Tokyo DIY Gardening pal Chris and I took him on a tour of Harajuku backstreets looking at gardens, eating tonkatsu, and stopping for some excellent cold coffee.

Harajuku is fun because the residential area has houses and gardens from all or almost all the past eight decades. The Harajuku gardens that appeal to me are similar to ones elsewhere in Tokyo for their simplicity and easy adaptation to urban life. Some results are clearly unintentional.

My photos include a three story garden of ivy and bamboo that covers one house and provides a buffer with its neighbor, a sleek concrete building’s balcony green curtains that are just starting to fill out on two floors, a blue flowering vine that somehow became a giant bush, a tiny entrance garden outside a pre-war house that has been converted into the very elegant Omotesando Coffee.

We also explored the enormous Danchi that between 246 road and Harajuku. This sprawling bauhaus-like public housing project has a wonderfully chaotic and varied set of gardens created by generations of residents. In July, we spotted lots of tomatoes, vertical bitter melon, and these purple gloves on top of an ad hoc garden support.

Revisiting Kaza Hana

青山の路地で風花という花屋を訪れるのがいつも楽しみです。壁の庭本当に美しいだと思っています。

Set off from the main street in Aoyama (246), Kaza Hana is one of my favorite Tokyo flower and garden design stores. I love how they have transformed the exterior of the shop into an incredibly dense and complex vertical garden. It’s a great place for lunch or coffee, or to pick up a gift. Or just admire the amazing wall gardens and displays.

When I was there, I bought a bouquet of moss-like carnations called テマリソウ (temarisou) as an office gift for Tokyo Art Beat. I hadn’t seen this bloom sold before, and it seems to have recently been introduced to European florists by Dutch plant breeder Hilverda Green Trick Carnation as Dianthus barbatus “Green Trick.”

Related: see photos and story from last year’s visit.


Kaza Hana: Amazing garden shop/cafe/bar in Aoyama

Leaving a meeting recently, I walked through some back streets of Aoyama, and came across this amazing sidewalk garden. The contrast between the potted plant garden and the slick glass building was intriguing. The aesthetics, density and plant selection made me realize quickly that this was not an amateur garden.

Inside this amazing vertical forest is Kaza Hana, a florist, garden design company, cafe and bar. The exterior merits further study for its vertical garden construction, its mix of Japanese garden plants and exotics, and masterful mix of color, texture, and form.

Completely enchanted, I decided to relax and enjoy lunch there as well. Inside, the jungle immersion theme continues, with plants everywhere, hanging sculptures, and a flower shop along one wall. I was fortunate to have a long chat with a flower instructor, Yoshida Miho, who later sent me her blog full of wonderful flower photos and a description of her work with plant therapy and “natural life design.”

Yoshida-san explained that Kaza Hana’s owner is a garden designer named Ishihara Kazuyuki (石原和幸). Ishihara-san has won three consecutive gold medals at the world famous Chelsea Flower Show. This fall he will also be showing his work at the 2010 Gardening World Cup this October in Nagasaki; you can see his profile and portfolio on their site. I believe Ishihara-san started as an ikebana designer.

Below are two more images from the shop, and also the intriguing sidewalk garden Ishihara-san designed for the hair salon across the street. I hope to meet Ishihara-san and learn more about Yoshida-san’s work, too.