hedge

Is kanamemochi Tokyo’s best hedge?

kananemochi_may_balcony_nakano

普通の植物が好きで、いつも近所の庭に注目しています。東京で簡単に育つカナメモチという木は一番好きな垣根です。春に赤色の若葉が出て、きれいです。植木鉢でも地面でも、速く大きくなります。僕のベランダに一つあって、手仕事屋久家の庭にもあります。

Unlike real horticulturalists, I enjoy planting common plants that I’ve seen in my neighbors’ gardens. This year I am convinced that Kanamemochi (Photina) is Tokyo’s best hedge. In spring the new leaves are a beautiful deep red color. Whether in a pot or in the ground, this member of the rose family, related to apple trees, grows quickly, thickly, and can be shaped easily. I have one hiding my washing machine and providing evergreen privacy between my kitchen and the neighbors outside my window. I also planted one at Kuge Crafts in order to provide separation from a pesky neighbor. Very quickly, that single plant is growing wide and creating a living fence.

kananemochi_redleaves_balcony_nakano

Up-sized bush is getting bushier

夏にこのカナメモチの木をもっと大きな植木鉢に入れました。今新しい赤色の葉がたくさん出てきています。

This summer I up-sized the pot for this wonderful kanamemochi bush, so common in Tokyo. In spring the new leaves are red, and it’s very easy to prune the bush into a hedge or any shape you want. I want to use it as a screen for the washing machine or air conditioner.

Gorgeous, super manicured bamboo hedge in front of Nezu Museum

根津美術館前の歩道にある竹の生け垣は素敵だと思います。
On the sidewalk in front of the Nezu Museum, this bamboo hedge has been manicured to  perfection. I am always excited to walk or bike by there.

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.

If you blink, you’d miss these purple bulbs

まばたきをしないで見れば、紫色の球根が見えますよ。

If you blink, you would miss the brief bloom of these lovely purple bulbs. There’s a large patch of them along the entrance to my apartment building. The flowers are very delicate, and the leaves plentiful and verdant. I don’t know their name, but they seem to be very resilient. The entrance garden is divided between professionally trimmed hedges on the left and this large area on the right cultivated by residents and nature.

Update: Horticulturalist Jason wrote to tell me that it’s Bletilla, the easiest ground orchid to grow. It’s native to East Asia. The large patch in front of my apartment seems to require very little care. In Japanese, it’s simply called “purple orchid,” シラン。

Hanging plant decorates fence in front of empty lot

I like how someone has hung this simple plant, commonly called “wandering Jew” in the United States, on the fence in front of this empty lot. The lot has been empty for at least two years, a long time between demolition and reconstruction. The fence occasionally changes, but it was especially nice to see some plant decoration.

In the context shot below, you can also see that someone planted a simple hedge on the right side. My guess is that both of these plant interventions– one in the ground, the other secured by a simple S-hook– were created by neighbors who are getting tired of seeing the empty lot and its weeds. I admire this anonymous, small contribution to the neighborhood.

Giant hedge frames modern house in Nakano

I love this giant hedge framing a modern house in Nakano. It’s even more beautiful at night, which is when we discovered it on a walk through the neighborhood.

The house is mostly concrete with wood on the second floor balconies and some bamboo as a screen for the ground floor. I love how the hedge opens up to provide an entrance to the house (and a permeable parking space). The outer hedge is then echoed by a shorter inner hedge close to the ground floor windows. On the right side, there’s a small gap and room to park a few bicycles. It’s a great combination of privacy and opening, concrete structure and plant life.

I like how the gardener has used bamboo poles to train the hedge into an arch over the entrance. It’s a simple and elegant support.

Viewed from the side, the house disappears behind the thick greenery. Usually I am a fan of much greater plant variety, but this residential garden shows how much can be achieved with a single species.