I wonder if this grape vine is as old as the house. It appears to be growing out of the tiniest opening between the house and the street.
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.
These grapes are growing in the narrow space between the sidewalk and a wide road in Oimachi. I like how this local gardener has adapted the city’s railing, and added additional height and support.
Several neighboring houses have grape vines that are old and productive. I saw this green-tinged grape trellis on my way to the sento one night recently.
Framing a second floor apartment entrance, this mature grape vine’s fruit are turning purple in mid August. I blogged earlier about the elderly woman who takes care of this garden. I have not seen her since she told me, “I like flowers, but I also like flower lovers.” She also mentioned how much she enjoyed my garden, too, although she has never been to our upper floor balcony.
Her entire garden, which includes the amazing grape vine, a fig tree and some tall roses are growing out of five or six plastic buckets on the edge of the narrow street and a few hanging plants with blue flowers outside her entrance. The plants intrude a little on the street, but mostly the garden is vertical.
On the way to the JR station, I passed a neighbor who was descending from her second story apartment and greeted her. Seemingly about 80 years old, she was carrying the bowl from her rice cooker. She showed surprised that this “foreigner” could speak (some) Japanese, and then proceeded to empty the water that had rinsed the rice onto her potted rose.
She was very proud of this blue-purple rose, which she told me her mother had given her. She also pointed out the potted loquat tree which would soon fruit and also an old grape vine tied up against the building. I admired her frugality in re-using water, her energy in traveling up and down the stairs, and her friendliness to this foreign neighbor.
This story highlights how gardening is enmeshed with frugality, anticipation and memory. Frugality includes the water-reuse and also on-going maintenance of the plants over many years. Anticipation for what is emergent and what will soon be. And memory sparked by plants about who gifted them and what life was like back when they were planted.