Finally the mini-sunflowers bloomed, when I was away from Tokyo



Thanks, Shu, for taking this photo of the mini sunflowers, which I grew from seeds sent by Hiyoko from Europe.

Summer Balcony Details: Sunflower sprouts in ceramic pot



This is the start of my summer balcony details series. A close look at some of the flowers, foliage and edibles of summer. First, a pot of micro-sunflowers, grown from Hiyoko’s seeds from Europe. The leaves looks so fresh.

Opposition to public benches demonstrates urban challenges

A sad story from San Francisco about a merchant group opposing the redesign of a historic public space leading to a central transit station because it will include benches. Equally disheartening is that some of the plans call for reducing the amount of plants and planter boxes. The fear of homelessness and vandalism is a great challenge to creating livable and enjoyable public spaces in the US and Europe, and affects both civic and grassroots urban improvements. Sad.

(Image of Martin Nicolausson seesaw bench, designed to require cooperation between strangers and to generate conversation, via The Fire Wire blog).

Edible walls

Edible walls are a new idea alongside green roofs and green walls: maximizing urban space for plants and food. A New York Times article discuss how a collaborations between garden designers and a metal fabricator to create relatively simple soil and drip water systems that support lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, spinach, leeks, and even baby watermelon. The article mentions an antecedent in espaliered fruit trees in European cities during the Middle Ages. Recently, edible walls are being used in a Los Angeles homeless shelter to feed the residents and generate a small income.

Urban National Forest

Tenderloin National Forest

In one of the densest, poorest and most dangerous San Francisco neighborhoods, a university class and an art gallery have created what they dub the Tenderloin National Forest. A San Francisco State University class and The Luggage Store Gallery have created a much needed green space, and appropriated the name and logo of the national forest service.

Tenderloin National Forest

On the other side of the Atlantic, class spectrum and new versus old developments, today I also read about Vauban, a new suburb in Germany that puts cars in collective garages on the periphery and devotes its narrow alleys to pedestrians and bicycles. It is a new development on an old military base, connected to the city of Freiburg by tram. And it is planned to reduce global warming and to improve the residents’ quality of life. 

Vauban, a new German suburb

The funny thing is that this new suburb’s street priorities are not that different than most of residential Tokyo.