green

Verdant summer green in Yoyogi Park

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東京でいろいろ用事をするときに、自転車で代々木公園を通り過ぎます。そこには、緑の色合いや涼しい日陰があって大好きです。

I love biking through Yoyogi Park on my way around the city. In summer, there are many shades of green and also cool shade.

It’s a small jungle in summer on my Tokyo balcony garden

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夏はベランダの植物がみんな大きくなります。緑の葉が多いので、ジャングルがみたいです。

In summer, lush foliage dominates my balcony garden. The morning glory curtain continues to bloom facing the sun, but inside there’s a cacophony of leaf shape and color tone, including olive, fig, and camellia. With so much new growth, you can hardly see the narrow wood path.

The top two photos face west and east. The lowest photo also faces east, and shows the layering of shoulder high and knee high plants. The grass plant in the white ceramic has some red leaves, which make a dynamic accent to the many shades of green.

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First article about Tokyo Green Space in Chinese: 東京都市學,衝突新美學

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ペイユン・リンさんのおかげで、初めてTokyo Green Spaceについての中国語の記事が出ました。『Green』は台湾の建築関係の雑誌です。記事の題名は、「東京都市學,衝突新美學」です。

Thanks to Peiyun Lin, an article about Tokyo Green Space appears in this month’s Green magazine, a Taiwanese architecture magazine. The title is “東京都市學,衝突新美學,” which the author translates as Tokyo Green Space: The City Full of Conflicts. The photos are mine, and Peiyun’s story based on this blog.

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Balloon vine is a fun summer climber

経堂駅から農大に行く途中で、面白い庭がある家をいつも観察します。去年は色々なアサガオが育っていました。今は、背の高いフウセンカズラがたくさんの緑とオレンジ色の実を見せてくれています。私たちのベランダにもこの夏のつる草があります。

On the long walk from Kyodo station to Nodai (Tokyo University of Agriculture), there’s a house and large garden where the residents are always gardening. This year they created a huge, two meter high trellis of fusenkazura (フウセンカズラ). The name is literally balloon kudzu, and despite looking delicate, it’s very hardy. The vine produces lots of white flowers, followed by a multitude of green balls that then turn orange. This year, I’m growing two specimens on our balcony.

A very intricate weed grows on the concrete banks of the Shibuya River

渋谷川の端に、複雑な雑草を見ました。汚いところで、こんなきれいな植物が育ちます。

Next to crumbling concrete, trash, and a drainage pipe, I saw this beautiful weed with red and green flowers on the hard edge of the Shibuya River.

Using a bush to hide the balcony washing machine

カナメモチという植物を知っていますか。きれいな赤色と緑の葉の木で、ブラインドの代わりになります。東京でよく使われます。今、ベランダの洗濯機を隠したいです。

This red and green leafed bush, called kanamemochi (カナメモチ), is one of the most common hedges in Tokyo. I have a single plant, which used to be in front of the air conditioner. Now that we’re using the AC and blasting hot air into the balcony, I’ve had to move all the plants that used to be in front of it. I just potted it up, so hopefully it will become a thicker and better screen.

Another view of Nakano forest house, with film

フィルムで、中野の森の家が、デジタルでとった写真とは、違って見えます。みどりが生い茂っています。

This film photograph of the mysterious Nakano forest house looks so much different than the digital one I posted recently. I love how green and over-grown this house has become.

Daffodils are very cheerful. Changing out the ceramic flowerpots.

ラッパスイセンはとても明るいです。陶芸の植木鉢の花を変えました。

It was nice to re-pot my favorite hand-made ceramics with fresh flowers. I love daffodils for being so cheerful, with a high contrast between fresh green leaves and yellow buds.

Morning glory green curtain still blooming

琉球朝顔がまだ咲いています。狭いベランダでは、庭と洗濯物が一緒です。
The morning glory green curtain continues to bloom and provide some vertical greening on the narrow balcony. In previous years, September hurricanes meant taking down the curtain early. The short-lived flowers keep popping up in different places. I also like how the garden co-exists with other domestic functions like clothes drying. We finally took the summer wind chime down a few weeks ago.

Purple berries on murasaki shikibu pop on light green foliage

紫式部の果実は薄緑の葉に似合います。この特別な秋の植物は『5倍緑』という都市里山箱のなかで成長します。史火陶芸教室の前を、歩行者が注目しています。季節ごとに、小さい風景ができあがります。史火のホームペジで、この5倍緑箱が二年前にどんなだったかを見られます。

I love how the purple berries pop against the light green foliage. This hardy shrub is a classic fall marker, and a reference to the female novelist of the thousand year old Tale of Genji. Unlike my balcony specimen, which dropped its berries while still green, this one outside Shiho ceramic studio looks fantastic. It’s growing in a 5bai midori, the modular urban satoyama box.

I bought the first box two years ago, and the second last year. They really thrive on this north-facing sidewalk and draw attention to the studio and store. If you click on Shiho’s website, you can see on the home page how small the first one was. It just needs lots of water, and very occasional pruning. There are so many local species that each season has something special and evocative of the Japanese landscape.

Murasaki shikibu is a hardy bush that symbolizes fall

紫式部の果実がきれいです。まだ緑色だけど、もうすぐ紫色になります。果実は秋のしるしです。

There is something very pleasing about the small berries on Murasaki shikibu, named after the author and heroine of the famous 11 century novel The Tale of the Genji. Here they are still green, but soon they’ll turn purple.

Okinawa morning glory on balcony green curtain

毎朝たくさん沖縄アサガオが咲いていて、グリーン・カーテンはいっぱいになってきました。江戸アサガオとちがって、沖縄アサガオは多年生植物です。この夏は三年目です。正午
までに、花は全部しぼんでいます。

節電のために、今年まだエアコンを使っていません。エアコンを使わないと、楽しめる場所がもっとできます。

Every morning, lots of Okinawa morning glories are blooming on our balcony, and the green curtain is filling out. Unlike Edo morning glory plants, Okinawa morning glories are perennial. This year is the third summer we’ve had this deep blue flower. By noon, the flowers are already wilting.

Because of energy conservation, we haven’t used the air conditioning yet this year. Also, by not using the air conditioning, there’s more space for me to enjoy the balcony garden.

Giving a talk at the Portland Japanese Garden

ポートランドの日本庭園で、「都市グリーン」というプログラムに参加します。5月26日、私は「東日本大地震後の東京グリーン・スペース」の発表をします。24日は、品品の小林先生が盆栽ワークショップを教えます。26日は、小林先生の盆栽の展覧会が催されます。

I am very excited to travel to the Portland Japanese Garden next week as part of their Urban Green program. My good friend Kobyashi Kenji, of Tokyo’s Sinajina, will be leading a bonsai-making workshop on May 24, and opening his bonsai exhibit on the 26th. As part of the opening, I will give a talk on Greening Tokyo after Tohoku.

It’s a great honor to participate in the excellent cultural programming at the Portland Japanese Garden, and to explore connections between two global cities whose residents are reinventing urban life for the 21st century. If you know anyone in Portland, please let them know about these events! Thank you.

Fairy white brings Australia to Tokyo

シドニーから来たフェアリー・ホワイトは東京の植木鉢で育てやすいです。

This is the second year that I am growing this beautiful daisy-like cream flower with very soft leaves, Actinotus helianthi, known in Japan as “fairy white” (フェアリー・ワイト). I think it’s odd that a plant that is iconic of Sydney, Australia, where it is called Flannel plant, does so well in Tokyo. My San Francisco gardener friend Hank was amazed to see it in Tokyo. The Wikipedia page suggests it likes well drained soil, so perhaps it was destined to be a potted plant!


Shibuya office tower has green wall on back side

垂直の庭は普通のオフィスビルを一変します。デットスペースをなくす渋谷の良い例です。

Since I have been taking an intensive Japanese language course in Shibuya, I have gotten to explore some of the back areas of Shibuya. Away from the massive crossing that is world famous (called a “scramble” in Japanese), and away from the crazy teen fashion, Shibuya is full of offices and even quiet residential neighborhoods.

I often pass the front of this bland and typical office tower. Recently, I was walking in the back alley, and realized that the entire rear facade is planted. I’ll have to go back some more to see if the wall of green grows thicker. It seems like a simple yet impressive structure for transforming the dead vertical space, and providing a beautiful garden for the office workers and neighbors. Well done!