5x緑

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.

Modular satoyama box in full fall color

ベランダの庭には小さな里山がある。色が毎日変わって楽しみだ。

There’s a small satoyama in my balcony garden. The color changes every day.

The leaves on tis small tree in my balcony’s modular satoyama box are turning dark crimson. I love how this small box from 5bai Midori is full of Japanese native plants. I have kept this satoyama box for just over a year now, and always enjoy watching the change in seasons. It’s just 15 cm by 50 cm!

Winter flowers in balcony garden

Reading about this weekend’s winter snowstorm in the US mid-Atlantic, I realize how mild and wonderful Tokyo winters are. December is the season for camellias, and the balcony garden also has pansies, fairy white daisies, cyclamen, geranium, decorative cabbage, one last morning glory flower, and a maple bonsai just turning red now.

Below you can see the 5bai Midori satoyama box that has a mix of countryside plants, including deciduous and evergreen small shrubs, grasses, vines, and weeds.

Balcony garden in early November

Balcony garden view of Mt Fuji

With cooler nights, fall is definitely upon us. I took these photos in the first week of November to document the passing of the seasons on our balcony garden. Above a dramatic sunset over Mt Fuji illuminates the very end of the morning glory green curtain. As you can see in the photo below, there are still many flowers, including cosmos, murasaki shikibu, cyclamen, geranium, fujibakama, a creamy daisy, and a few other annuals.

Balcony garden in early November

One of the satoyama unit‘s plant is flowering now, while some of the deciduous plants are dropping their leaves.

Blossom on satoyama unit from 5bai midori

The black pine bonsai I assembled at Kobayashi Kenji Sensei’s class at Sinajina is doing well.

black pine bonsai from Kobayashi Kenji Sensei's class at Sinajina

And we put the ojizō-sama made at the ceramic studio into one of the satoyama units.

Ojizō-sama in satoyama unit

More photos of fall plants, including lemon tree, ceramics, and more images of the satoyama units after the jump.

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5bai Midori plants arrive during typhoon

5bai Midori plants arrive during typhoon, Shiho pottery studio

Thursday 5bai Midori delivered the three “satoyama units” I ordered, two for my home and one for Shiho, the pottery studio I attend in Suginami. I was amazed that the delivery service was uninterrupted by Typhoon #18 (known as Melor outside Japan), the first typhoon to hit Japan’s mainland in two years.

5bai Midori in boxes at home

5bai Midori’s native plants were more than I expected. It takes 4 weeks from ordering to delivery, and they arrive in large cardboard boxes. When the teachers and students opened the box at Shiho, they found a lizard. I hope he adjusts to life in the big city.

5bai Midori box at Shiho

The “satoyama units” are amazing: a mix of small trees, bushes, grasses and vines. The Shiho unit is a 30 centimeter square. The home ones for the balcony are 20 cm square and a rectangle measuring 15 cm by 50 cm. Included is a detailed list of the plants, including name, family name, latin name, description and care instructions. There is even a description of the metal frame and the soil. Attached to many plants are small metal tags with the plant’s name.

5bai Midori plants arrive during typhoon

I will blog about the seasonal change and growth of these 5bai Midori satoyama units. The locations could not be more different: the home balcony is on a high floor balcony with full southern sun. The pottery studio faces north and is underneath an awning.

5bai Midori plants arrive during typhoon

The pottery teachers were somewhat concerned about police protests (apparently they previously complained about the air conditioning units that also sit on the small strip of pavement between studio and sidewalk), and the possibility of theft. Still, they are excited to have this live environment which will slow pedestrians down and introduce more people to their studio. If it works out, I’d like to add several more units.

Here are my previous posts about 5bai Midori:

Beautifying major streets (May 5)
Meeting Tase Michio (May 21)
5bai Midori, or 5 sided green (May 22)
3 Projects created by 5bai Midori (July 22)
Satoyama and biodiversity (August 26)

And here are the sketches they created when we first discussed the projects.

5bai midori sketch for Shiho garden 5bai midori sketch for balcony garden

The balcony plant list is: Reineckea carnea, Quercus acustissima, Quercus serrata, Camellia sasanqua, Quercus myrsinaefolia, Clematis terniflora, Carex siderosticta, Trachelospermum asiaticum, Trachelospermum jasminoides, Eurya japonica, Petasites japonicus, Ardisia japonica, Liriope muscari, Kerria japonica.

3 projects created by 5bai Midori

Kami Meguro residence B entrance

Recently a director and landscape designer from 5bai Midori took me on a tour of three projects in Meguro, two residences across from each other and an apartment building. The two houses in Kami Meguro are across from eachother, with one residence garden inspiring its neighbor. Above you can see how the plants have thrived after seven years, with vines reaching the third floor roof garden, and an interesting mix of small plants, shrubs and trees framing the entrance. With the plants reaching maturity, you hardly see the boxes that are the foundation of the garden system. Because the plants are all local natives, maintenance is just twice per year.

The “Moegi” apartment building in Kakinokizaka below was designed by an architect who wanted to maximize greenery with 5bai Midori. Plants are placed along the sidewalk, in the main entrance, private courtyard, and side bicycle storage area. Above the street level, there is a ledge running the entire width of the building that is completely covered in 5bai Midori boxes.

Kakinokizaka Moegi apartment building context

The first of the Kami Meguro houses has a wild exterior that contrasts with the typical cinder block wall of the neighboring property.

Kami Meguro residence A context

Its side entrance consists of gently sloping pebble steps also based on 5bai Midori’s box system. The feeling is organic, private and charming.

Kami Meguro residence A side entrance

You can see my previous posts about 5bai Midori and its founder Tase Michio. Below the jump are some additional photos of these three projects.

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5bai Midori, or 5 sided green

Gobai Midori, or 5x緑, ConceptIn an earlier post, I talked a little about 5bai Midori‘s street beautification products and the creative force behind this small green business Tase Michio. This post uses photos from their website to explore their idea of restoring the countryside, or satoyama(里山), and bringing it into the city.

The photos above illustrate the concept of carving a piece of rural nature into a modular square. 5bai Midori plants these bio-diversity trays on modular metal cubes with up to five sides for plants and special light-weight soil. Applications include residential entrances, sidewalks and balconies, apartment and office buildings, green walls, rooftops, neighborhood planters, boulevard and highway guard rails, interiors, benches, and special events. They have targeted individuals, governments (including amazing, yet unrealized plans for greening Kabukicho and Marunouchi), developers and construction companies.

These are some images of how plant trays are cultivated to include a multitude of species in a small area.

Gobai Midori, plant cultivation

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Beautifying major streets

Pansies on Shibuya sidewalk

As a gesture for improving a huge street in Shibuya, I admire the shop owner who contributed these small planters with pansies. It certainly makes the wide sidewalk, busy street and subway construction zone a bit more beautiful.

As a contrast for visionary ideas to improve major streets, I am showing below an image from a native plant company 5bai Midori (literally five-sided greenery) that uses a modular system for residential exteriors and interiors, small businesses and neighborhood improvements.

Gobai Midori street median

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