generosity

This San Francisco sidewalk garden reminds me of Tokyo

garden_entrance_tokyostyle_sanfrancisco
サンフランシスコの歩道の庭は東京を思い出します。皆、植木鉢に植えられていて、スタンドもあります。
The simplicity of a garden made of pots, the tiered stand for packing more plants in a small space, and the generosity of the gardener remind me of Tokyo.

Marui’s new Nakano store offers generous sidewalk

新しい中野のマルイ(0101)は歩道をきれいします。公共の造園がマルイの新しいブランド・アイデンティティになります。

Marui’s new Nakano store offers a generous sidewalk, blurring public and commercial spaces. I love how Marui is making public landscaping its brand identity.

I am super pleased that the new Marui department store in Nakano is building a great entrance. Rather than build up to the edge of the property, Marui has a two-story atrium by setting back its entrance, with four mature trees and hopefully some planter beds. By blurring the line between public and commercial space, Marui will create an engaging sidewalk with plants.

For a short stretch of this narrow sidewalk on the south side of the JR station, there will be plants on both sides.

This store design seems related to the new Shinjuku store landscape, which I blogged last year. That store also has two very popular ground floor food shops (an Italian gelato and French bakery) that are very open to the sidewalk and attractive, new green spaces.

I like to see how smart retailers realize that improving the sidewalk and pedestrian experience will increase business and goodwill. There is no contradiction between generosity and profits. I hope that this public green space becomes a recognizable part of Marui’s brand identity. I’ll definitely check out Marui Nakano when it opens soon.

Neighbors sharing plants at apartment building

Just in front of the garbage sorting area at a large apartment building, a neighbor has left a bucket of water with rosemary and “beroperone” (ベロペロネ), the “little shrimp” ornamental I recently spotted in the neighborhood growing between two walls. The plants are in water so that the cuttings grow roots. I love how the note invites neighbors to adopt these plants. I like the ethos of sharing and encouraging the diffusion of these plants with neighbors.

Fall perennial border in pots on curbside

I love this fall perennial border despite the lack of ground soil and space. Fifteen to twenty pots contain flowering ornamentals on the narrow curb between an Asagaya residence and the small street. The garden is very complete and very public. I admire the gardener’s generosity to passing pedestrians and bicyclists.

A single manicured tree

By Tokyo’s standards, this residential yard is large. I love simplicity of the garden, viewed from the street: a long hedge, a bamboo fence, an orange tree in the background, and another heavily pruned tree that is dormant in the winter (maybe a cherry tree).

The star of the public face of the garden is the elaborate pine tree pruned into four rings.

I wonder if every few years, the gardener adds an additional ring. The design is at once simple and the result of regular care over years of growth. Like the finest traditional Japanese garden, this single tree combines nature and artifice, and conveys a relationship between people and other life forms. I like the generosity of the owner who shares this tree equally with passers-by and the residence’s inhabitants and guests.

The tree is, I think, called ゴヨウマツ or Japanese white pine in English (Pinus parviflora), a common bonsai and garden tree.

Bonsai collection on residence wall

Bonsai collection on residence wall

While many residences and business have common and inexpensive plants in public space or along the line dividing public and private, it is also amazing to see valuable plant collections on display outside homes and businesses. As an American, I am simply amazed that these labors of love and time are not destroyed or stolen. 

Here’s two views of a residential home’s bonzai collection. I am taken by the gardener’s generosity and the public’s respect. 

Bonsai collection on residence wall