I like how this very common and hardy camellia brings some life to a concrete patio in a Nakano back street. I wonder who placed it there and keeps it well pruned.
I can easily imagine a jungle growing between these older commercial buildings, a living food alley with scent and maybe a small creek bed. As it is now, this space between buildings functions as a giant chute for capturing rainwater, which then travels many kilometers and must be processed, alongside sewage, before being released into Tokyo Bay.
At least someone working or living there is decorating and enjoying the space.
Recently I have been thinking that the soil in my balcony container garden must be getting depleted. That’s another reason I love my two salvia plants: continually growing, blooming, getting leggy, and sending out new growth from the roots. A flowering plant that loves sub-optimum conditions is a joy.
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.
Biyou yanagi (ビョウヤナギ) is the perfect Tokyo rainy season bush. The flowers radiate with color when the sky is often overcast. Each flower produces dozens of delicate stamen that catch the smallest breeze, and the bush overall seems very hardy for urban life, with very attractive leaves. I think its Latin name is Hypericum monogynum. This one’s growing in the section of my apartment building garden that an elderly couple takes care of.
Does this bush grow in your city?
Leaving an inspiring talk in Nishi Azabu-Juban yesterday evening, the intoxicating scent of Angel’s Trumpet made me pause. And take a photo.
Brugmansia is also very common in San Francisco (and many continents including New Zealand), although it comes originally from South America. It produces an incredible scent, but only at night. In Tokyo, the summer heat seems to overwhelm the plant. By fall, this hardy large shrub/small tree grows to three or four meters in height, and flowers continuously until winter frost makes them die back. By May they begin to shoot up from the ground.
Angel’s Trumpet, sometimes also called Devil’s Trumpet, is a strangely familiar plant: hardy and decorative, with a shamanistic function in its native Amazon habitat.
I love these hollyhocks growing on the side of a busy boulevard in Nakano. They are obviously self-sowed and extremely hardy. I marveled at them last year. I am certain that no one takes care of them, and yet they have spread up and down this boulevard.
Very rapidly, they grow over two meters tall. Along with hydrangea and azaleas, they are a sign that summer is close. I like how in this photo the flowers echo the verticality of the narrow high-rises and the Jeans Mate banner, and offer a contrast with the fast-moving, fossil-fuel dependent traffic.
These purple flowers are blooming outside our Tokyo apartment building. While the large trees and some bushes are regularly pruned by professionals, much of the front and side of the building are tended by women who live in the building. Other flowers include brugsmania, clivia, cymbidium orchids, poppies, clivia, azalea and geraniums. It’s an odd mix of cultivated and feral plants that are hardy enough to survive without irrigation.