This lovely shiso plant is growing in a small crack in the sidewalk


The four seasons micro garden I often pass on the way to the station has a new summer addition. Shiso is growing from a crack. Almost all the other plants are in pots, so I wonder if this was planted or just sprung up naturally. It looks delicious!

Does anyone know the name of this gorgeous independent flower?

Growing in a crack between two walls, I spotted this gorgeous red flower. Tokyo’s ample rainfall allows plants to thrive in the most unlikely places. I love how the flowers provide a concentrated does of fall color. I looked in various plant books but couldn’t find the name. Does anyone know its name in English or Japanese.

Here are some context shots. I love how it fills this dead space, and how the vibrancy of the plant contrasts with the rusting and peeling rail.

Flowers are naturally transitory. This independent plant’s life was even shorter. I took the photos on October 6. Last night, I realized that the plant had been either uprooted or poisoned. It is gone without a trace.

Spring weed

I have been noticing this weed with beautiful purple and white flowers all over Tokyo. It must be very hardy since it grows in the cracks of sidewalks and walls. Volunteer plants play an important role in urban nature, and show nature’s resilience despite our over-built environment.

Poppies growing in a crack in the sidewalk

I saw these beautiful poppies growing in the crack of a sidewalk. It reminded me of the first image that I took for Tokyo Green Space two years ago, of pansies growing in a sidewalk crack. I am still struck by the ingenuity and generosity of Tokyo’s unheralded urban gardeners. They are beautifying an environment that is often ugly, overbuilt and poorly planned.

The poppies make me think of the pansies photo. I recently received an interesting request by email asking for permission to include that original photo in a book about urban design and climate change that Alexandros Washburn, Chief Urban Designer of the  City of New York, is writing.

I am continually amazed by the importance of observing small details and the power of the internet to connect people who are distant by location, profession, and circumstance. It is both humbling and inspiring.

A dandelion in Yotsuya

I have a soft spot for weeds, and this dandelion I saw found a home in a sidewalk crack in busy Yotsuya. I admire the ability of weeds to place themselves, to exist and spread despite our best attempts at organizing our environment. The dandelion is exceptional because it is at once a food, a medicine, and an important early source of nectar for honeybees. Cities need more dandelions!