In summer, lush foliage dominates my balcony garden. The morning glory curtain continues to bloom facing the sun, but inside there’s a cacophony of leaf shape and color tone, including olive, fig, and camellia. With so much new growth, you can hardly see the narrow wood path.
The top two photos face west and east. The lowest photo also faces east, and shows the layering of shoulder high and knee high plants. The grass plant in the white ceramic has some red leaves, which make a dynamic accent to the many shades of green.
I love this winter scene of rampant white camellia and tall native palms, with plenty of dead fronds still attached to the crown. The wild landscape makes the house cozy and bright in the cold weather.
DId you know that Oshima island, off the coast of Izu, is part of Shinagawa ward? From the pier near Hamamatsucho, it’s an eight hour overnight ride on a slow and rather large boat. I recently went with Paper Sky’s Bicycle Club.
Highlights included watching the sun rise at black lava rock “desert” atop the volcano, fun and fashionable cyclists in their twenties, thirties, and forties, the slow over-night boat ride, two onsens, a small port made from a volcanic crater. We saw the end of the camellia season, the blooming of Oshima cherry trees, and ate ashitaba leaf vegetable. Dai dai cocktails cmobined local citrus with booze.
I am now even more impressed with Paper Sky, which is a travel magazine and also the hub of mountain climbing, food, book, and bicycle clubs. My fellow travelers were an interesting mix of bicycle sellers, magazine editors, serious and hobby cyclists, photographers, and creative types. I was surprised that the rental bikes were all Bruno bikes, which have small tires, great colors, and are excellent for city biking and mid-range touring.
With its real world events and groups, Paper Sky’s publisher, Knee High Media, is clearly thinking about a new type of publishing beyond paper, the web, and smart phones.
I like how this very common and hardy camellia brings some life to a concrete patio in a Nakano back street. I wonder who placed it there and keeps it well pruned.
I can easily imagine a jungle growing between these older commercial buildings, a living food alley with scent and maybe a small creek bed. As it is now, this space between buildings functions as a giant chute for capturing rainwater, which then travels many kilometers and must be processed, alongside sewage, before being released into Tokyo Bay.
At least someone working or living there is decorating and enjoying the space.
Our south-facing balcony gets a lot of winter sun. This pink camelia started blooming at new year, and it’s reaching its peak now.
I like how Tokyo has four seasons, but even in winter there are flowers. This well trimmed camellia is part of a wonderful residential garden that I pass on my way to the JR station. The space is small, but the gardener has dozens of species that are attractive in all season.
Tokyo’s back streets can be incredibly quiet. I was struck by this huge pink camellia growing out of a “yard” less than half a meter wide. Tokyo gardens make use of the tiniest spaces with maximum public benefit. Most of this shrub’s canopy is over the street. Tokyo mixes the prosaic and the sublime.
Recently a mejiro bird has been visiting our apartment balcony early in the morning. The mejiro is tiny, bright green, and sports a white ring around its eyes. This bird is particularly attracted to nectar, and seems to enjoy the pink camellia outside our kitchen. What great company to have during breakfast!
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.