Winter plants taken home by bike



Tulip bulbs, decorative cabbage, and a winter clematis.

Clematis lost to unusual August typhoon



Last weekend’s typhoon killed the clematis vine that had spread across the green curtain. It must have snapped close to the base.


The green curtain becomes covered with vines quickly



The warm, humid weather has jump-started the green curtain. So far, there’s three types of clematis, Okinawa morning glory, fusenkazura (balloon vine), and a climbing rose.

Clematis flowering above manhole in Nakano


This potted clematis looks lovely over the manhole. It’s a perfect stage.

Pink clematis reappears on balcony from last year


A happy surprise!

I forgot I planted this jumbo pink clematis last year, and now there are three blooms.

Super pink clematis vine

First I saw this plant in my neighbor’s entrance garden, a narrow space with begonias and lillies packed tightly. A few days later, I bought the one below. It seems like this variety of clematis is very popular in Tokyo this summer. I’ll have to pot it up soon.
Thanks to @Jencjoyous from Napa, California, for identifying this variety as Clematis ‘Nelly Moser.’ In Japan, it goes by the name Dr Rapperu ドクターラッペル.

Irises blooming in central Tokyo

I have found this wonderful short-cut between Yoyogi and Omotesando on bike. It passes a lot of houses with gardens. On my way to a meeting, I had a nice long chat with a small office owner who was tending a beautiful clematis vine. And then I saw this house with irises outside. If you ignore that you are in the center of Tokyo, it seems like a simple country house, no?

Edo gardening in wood block prints

Edo gardening in wood block prints

Encouraged by my host Suzuki Makoto sensei at Tokyo University of Agriculture, I recently visited the Edo Gardening Flowers exhibit being held at the Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art until November 26,2009. The exhibit has spectacular colorful wood block prints showing flowers and plants in a variety of urban settings including kimonos, at festivals, commercials nurseries, educational materials, Kabuki actors, and Noh dramas.

The exhibit theme is that the Edo period experienced a “gardening culture” in which a passion for gardens and flowers permeated all social classes, including court nobles, shoguns, feudal lords and the common people. According to the catalogue, “the Japanese people’s passion to flowers surprised the American botanist Robert Fortune as seen in his diary upon his visit to Japan in the late Edo period.”

An interesting comparison is also made between between the widespread practice of Edo gardening and also the interest of common people in wood block prints. It is wonderful to see the use of flowers and plants in both high culture realms and in depictions of everyday life during the Edo period.

Two of my favorite prints are collections of plants used by children to learn the names of flowers. The one below, from the back cover of the exhibit catalog, has the names in hiragana. The exhibit also includes Edo era ceramic plant pots.

Edo gardening in wood block prints

Some more images after the jump, and also a list of plants seen in the wood block prints.

Continue reading