People are surprised when I tell them that I have at least one hundred plants on my small Tokyo balcony. It sounds like a lot, but actually it’s easy to accumulate. Even a small garden can have many layers. I was aiming my camera at the fairly large bonsai in the center, made by my friend Matthew. It has two types of grasses, two types of mosses, and a fern. Some neighboring mint is stretching above that singularly planned assemblage. And at the bottom left are two small succulents in a flowerpot with drawings from my mother-in/out-law. There’s also a trunk and leaf from two neighboring bonsais. That’s at least ten plants in this one close-up.
My favorite Kichijoji plant store is moving soon. I have long admired the owner’s meticulous sidewalk garden, full of surprises. Here are perfect grapes, two of which we have just eaten. The garden is a long narrow strip with some more plants in a light well and the stairway to the lower level entrance.
I like the mix of exotics like grapes, with traditional Japanese plants like pine and raphis palm, plus ferns, cactuses, and so many more plant types. The incredible variety of plants and the impeccable maintenance show off the gardener’s skills and wide interests.
More photos after the jump.
Tokyo residents and small businesses welcome the gods in temporary homes built of bamboo, pine, and plum blossoms.
I love how the best ones are hand-crafted from pine, bamboo, and plum blossoms. They are intended to be temporary homes for the Shinto gods (kami, 神様). I like the idea that you can create a temporary house for the gods to visit at new year. The three heights of the kamomastu represent heaven, humanity, and earth- in descending order. The shimekazari are smaller, with Shinto rope holding charms such as oranges, folded paper, rice straw, and ferns.
Shimekazari (標飾り) and Kadomatsu (門松) are traditional New Year’s ornaments placed on walls and on the sidewalks outside shops and homes. The city simultaneously empties of people and fills with physical connections to mountains and spirits. This year I took photos of the widest variety I could find in the areas I visit on typical days: on a car bumper, outside a sento, next to a wall of cigarette advertisements, on a busy boulevard, outside a barbershop, pachinko parlor, 24 hour convenience store, and a department store.
After the holiday, these decorations should be burned at a shrine. By mid-January, they are already a faded memory.
See more photos after the jump.
One of my favorite nurseries anywhere, Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco, just announced the opening of a floral store within the store, the Cutting Garden. Susie Nadler will be featuring plants from FGG’s farm and other California growers, using unusual local plants like proteas to create unexpected and wonderful bouquets. I have seen Susie’s flower arranging, and know she’s talented.
I also like the idea of a flower store that feels like it is gathering plants from its own “cutting garden.” It is far more ecological than the supermarket-style florists brining agri-chemical roses from other continents. And it may inspire some customers to grow the plants that they admire in the arrangements.
I love the description of some of the plant material they will be using: “otherworldly palm fruits and flowers; California pepper berry branches, with their spicy pink pods; delicate tree fern fronds with coyly curled tips.”
Definitely worth checking out! Here’s some fall bouquets.