flowers

Perennial Okinawa flowers are brilliant against the grey sky

morning_glory_okinawa_purple

毎朝、灰色の空を背景に、この琉球アサガオが明るく咲いています。5年間くらい、この紫色の花がグリーンカーテンをきれいにしてくれています。

I love this Okinawa morning glory that I’ve been growing on my balcony for years. Even after a hard trim last fall, it’s back and blooming every morning. The flowers are brilliant against the grey sky.

Some garden highlights, starting with one of the eight climbing vines

morning_glory_variegated

今年の夏、八番目に買ったつる植物が江戸アサガオです。斑点のある葉がすてきでしょう?

The eighth, and most recent, climbing vine I bought was a 150 yen variegated Edo morning glory. The flowers are red, and the two colored leaves add variety to the green curtain. It’s not too late to get one started this summer.

 

Warm colors are especially lovely on winter balcony

ranunculus_balcony_nakano_winter
ラナンキュラスの花びらは多いです。真っ赤色にカメラが驚いてしまいました。

I love how ridiculously full ranunculus flowers are. The intense red color seems to overwhelm my film camera.

Sidewalk sunflowers bloom in busy Shinjuku commercial corridor

sunflowers_shinjukusanchome_sidewalk

新宿は、人工の照明ばかりなのに、この歩道のヒマワリが明るく見えます。区が植えたようではないです。誰がいつ植えたのでしょう。

I love these rogue sunflowers growing in the sidewalk of Shinjuku Dori, a busy commercial corridor. At night the flowers are brighter than all the artificial lights.

Snow piled up on balcony flowers, but everything survived storm

carnations_snow
雪がベランダの花と野菜の上に積もったけれど、皆、負けませんでした。

Last month, the snow covered the balcony plants. Somehow all the flowers and vegetables survived this heavy snow.

Weekly flower display at Kiba Metro Station

Thanks to Chris Palmieri of AQ design studio, here are two photos of a weekly flower display at Kiba Station, on Tokyo Metro’s Tozai line (T-13). The flower arrangement is created by a flower shop called Kawashima (フラワーショップ・カワシマ) in what seems to be an informal public-private partnership.

I like how the local flower shop is offering this public improvement and receiving some publicity for their work. It’s also incredibly lovely that they provide the names of the flowers they use with a simple hand drawing. My only question is why they are unable to make a slight improvement to the scuffed stand.

In the US or Europe, I imagine the entire arrangement, including the vase, would be quickly stolen. In Japan, there is much more opportunity to share individual and small business gardening with strangers.

Semi-wild, semi-cultivated space in Yoyogi

I noticed this interesting semi-wild, semi-cultivated space alongside a busy Yoyogi road and in between two train tracks, an elevated overpass, and a convenience store. It shows you what minimal effort and Tokyo’s abundant rain can do to create a space that is lush and full of summer flowers. I like the mix of wildness and anonymous stewardship. The results are such a contrast with poorly organized city efforts like this Shibuya Greening Project, documented by Chris on Tokyo DIY Gardening, which seem doomed to rapid failure.

Lemon blossoms on balcony

The Saipan lemon tree I planted on my balcony last year is full of blowers: what a great scent, and hope for future lemons. I have been doing a lot of gardening now that the weather has gotten warmer: planting seedlings, buying vegetable starters, trying out a new coconut husk soil, purchasing a few large flowers and shrubs, and generally filling up the balcony with plants, flowers, and dreams. I’ll be posting more photos soon.

More flowers in transit bathroom

These flowers were discovered in Odakyu’s Shinjuku station’s mens room. Like the two liter bottle with ivy in JR Metro, these flowers seem to be the spontaneous result of a caretaker eager to bring life into this drab interior space. My traveling companion wonders if the flowers aren’t recycled from bouquets that passengers have discarded at the station.

More fake flowers and leaves

Fall leaves at the supermarket

I have posted before with some sympathy for how ordinary Tokyo people express their desire for public, urban nature, even with fake flowers and real ivy in plastic bottle containers in such unlikely places as a Metro men’s room. I have more ambivalent feelings about the widespread retailing use of fake leaves to signal fall.

Above is a photo from my neighborhood supermarket. Is nature not signaling seasons clearly enough? Are plastic plants the best the supermarket can do to mark seasons. What about seasonal foods and vegetables? Are these leaves stored, washed, and brought out the next year?

Pachinko fake flowers

The second image is from a neighborhood pachinko parlor. This one mixes an abundance of fake flowers and sexy female imagery to attract attention and customers. I have a feeling that these flowers might have looked better when first installed, and that they may remain next to the Metro station for many more years to come.

U Goto Florist

U Goto Florist, dragonfly and cactus candles

U Goto Florist in Roppongi is one of Tokyo’s oldest and most luxurious flower shops. The tray above is a stunning summer arrangement of bamboo fireflies, cactus candles and sand. Founded in 1892 and owned by the third generation of the same family, U Goto prides itself on being Western-style and employs three European flower designers trained in Dutch and French flower academies.

U Goto Florist green bouquet

Housed in a 1990s company-owned office building near Roppongi Crossing, U Goto is Western- style in a way that only Japanese could perfect. Multi-roomed and multi-layered, the high ceilinged shop includes cut flowers, fake flowers, and potted plants, and also offers flower-arranging classes. Some examples of unusual arrangements and bamboo framing were on display. The shop fittings– stone floors, marble work tables, distressed cabinets, an excess of crown molding that is still somehow rustic chic– evoke Manhattan or Paris.

U Goto Florist champagne gift

I was charmed that the staff offered me a demi-tasse of coffee, which gave me the opportunity to carefully observe them arranging and wrapping lavish bouquets of roses, dahlias, sunflowers and orchids in the finest papers. Orchid petals were carefully protected in cloth paper wrappings.

U Goto Florist twig and bamboo wreath

U Goto’s extremely high standards necessitate removing all flowers and plants that are even slightly past peak. Cut flowers are donated to hospitals, and plants to senior centers. The summer window display below would be replaced after the Obon holiday with a fall display, in spite of the continued heat and humidity. One designer was already thinking forward to the Christmas display.

U Goto Florist summer store window

Flowers and plants in Tokyo Metro men’s rooms

Plant in Tokyo Metro Iriya station

Recently I noticed plants and (fake) flowers in Tokyo Metro men’s rooms. Who puts them there? Janitors? Passengers? Station agents? I enjoy how an anonymous person has used low-cost greenery to improve these pedestrian spaces. Above is a vine growing out of a 2 liter bottle, sitting on top of tissue paper and “3D” face mask vending machine in Iriya. Below are blue plastic flowers sitting in vases made of small Yakult bottles, with aYakult, in Tsukishima.

Flowers in Tokyo Metro toilet, Tsukishima Flowers in Tokyo Metro toilet, Tsukishima