I think these are mini-sunflowers. We’ll find out soon. This ceramic also made at Kuge Crafts.
Plant Journal Issue #3 includes my article about flower pot gardens in Tokyo. The article also includes interviews with two Nakano gardeners who use sidewalk and wall space to create extravagant seasonal gardens shared with neighbors. You can find stores that sell the magazine worldwide, or order it online.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear from English artist Simon Parish, who shared with me (and my readers) his drawings of Tokyo potted plant gardens. I love his compositions, the contrast between the line drawings and the (hand-colored?) plants and pots, the mix of cultivated and semi-wild urban vegetation.
Simon explained that he lived in Tokyo about 20 years ago. I am super impressed with his current art work, and feels it evokes the types of Tokyo city gardens that this blog celebrates. Maybe, garden-wise, Tokyo does not change so much over the decades or even centuries.
I like to have ready access to fresh herbs, and to use nasturtium flowers in salads. These potted herbs on the balcony are close to the kitchen so I can use them often.
In the center of Shinjuku ni-chome, a man who seems to have lived in the same shop house for many decades has created a narrow garden in the 25 centimeters between sidewalk and street. It occupies his side of the street, and the opposite side of the street, with well over 100 pots all existing in public space that is frequented by patrons of the hundreds if not thousands of small gay bars. It has the largest number of gay bars of any gay neighborhood in any city in the world. I like how the gardener has labeled all his plants, some pots are secured with chains, and some propped up on beer crates.
Barcelona-based Plant Journal invited me to write an article about Tokyo flower pot gardeners, and arranged for Daisuke HAMADA to take film photos of the gardens I selected in Nakano and Shinjuku. I interviewed two older gentlemen whose gardens I’ve long admired.
Hamada-san’s fantastic photos inspired me to buy a film camera, and in a few weeks I’ll start posting from my first roll. I think it’s been nearly twenty years since I had a film camera.
Next weekend, November 19-23, is the Shiho ceramic studio‘s annual student exhibit. This will be my 3rd time participating. Please come by in Nishi Ogikubo if you can. There’s a very wide variety of ceramic types and styles, from kitchen goods to accessories and decorative pieces with many affordable items. I’ll be showing some recent flower pots and vases, along with the cafe ole bowl I made as part of this year’s theme.
The address is below. It’s a 4 minute walk from the South exit of the JR Nishiogikubo station on the Sobu and Chuo lines. Gallery Hiko is open from 11 to 18 everyday, except the last day when it closes at 17.
167-0054 Tokyo Suginami-ku Shouan ３−３７−２１
I blogged before about these three color flower pots I have been making at Shiho ceramic studio. Now they are finished baking with a glossy transparent glaze showing off the three types of clay. Although the result is not exactly what I had intended, I like how they came out.
I wonder what to plant them with in November for the student show. I am going to the studio twice a week now so that I’ll have enough to show then. Below is another view, using a “nostalgic” filter.
Most people think of Harajuku as being either luxury fashion or teen hipsters. But plenty of Harajuku is comprised of small streets, old houses, and long-term residents. I like how this garden is created entirely from flower pots lifted just off the street and hanging from the cinder block wall. That’s a lot of flowers for one tiny space.
A few weeks ago I took a long, rambling walk with Chris Berthelsen, author of the amazing blog Fixes which “investigates alterations of space/objects at the public/private boundary in suburban Tokyo.” I love his close observations, unlimited curiosity, and attention to materials and human effort and satisfaction.
The goal of our walk was to explore an area neither of us knew and attempt to get lost. In addition to some inventive fixes at a tiny park, we saw many beautiful gardens in Higashi Nakano. I love how the garden in the photo above focuses almost entirely on cymbidium orchids and clivia. Also noteworthy are the re-use of cinder blocks, the shelf that provides space for another level of plants, and the care in providing beauty at the edge between private and public space.
Another garden uses the two sides of a house to create a complex perennial garden using flower pots. Great variety of texture, color, and plant variety. I can only imagine how much more beautiful the garden would be if it were planted in the soil, and allowed to grow so much bigger.
I certainly would have missed this small garden below where both plants and bikes are tied with string to the window grate. It’s great to see that no space is wasted, and that multiple functions can be supported despite all constraints.
And lastly, I found this small, unpaved lane to be incredibly charming. The stick and bamboo fence, the line of trees and shrubs, the materiality of the soil all made me imagine that we were in a small country town, not two kilometers from the Shinjuku skyscrapers. There are still areas that seem wild within the center of Tokyo.