magnolia

Giant magnolia towers over home, and shows off wavy branches in winter

giant_magnolia_winter_suginami

家より、このモクレンは背が高いです。杉並で。

This magnolia is huge, and you can see the branch structure clearly in winter.

Two plants cover home in central Tokyo

2つの植物が家を完全に覆ってしまいました。混雑した都市の中で、簡単な壁の庭がぼくたちを元気づけてくれます。
I am so impressed with the utter simplicity of this residential garden. Using practically no space, this vertical garden consists mostly of one well trimmed magnolia tree and a vine that screen the home. I don’t know whether credit should go to the rain-soaked climate or a smart home-owner. This house shows what’s possible in terms of ample plant growth in the most minimal of urban spaces. With more of these gardens, Tokyo would see lower summer temperatures, more wildlife, and a great quality of urban life.

Another magnolia at night

It’s funny that in English, we commonly call several varieties of magnolia by a single name. In Japanese, there are specific names for each one. I love how these pink and white tulip magnolia flowers are blowing in the night sky, with the ubiquitous power lines providing contrast in form and function. Urban beauty is nature mixed with functional services.

A beautiful magnolia grows in a tight space

Walking home last week, first we smelled and then saw this beautiful magnolia tree. In the dark, the petals looked pink, but when I returned the next afternoon I saw they are bright white. This tree is growing at the end of a gravel parking lot in Nakano, in the foot or so of property behind the house. This tight space shows how even the smallest horizontal space can support a substantial tree, with seasonal color and scent. Lovely.

Cherry madness starts early in Shinjuku Gyoen

Today was a gloriously sunny day with a warm breeze, and I found myself in Shinjuku Gyoen. Plenty of young families sprawled out on the lawn, with small kids playing ball. There’s a glorious magnolia pair near the entrance, but already the senior citizen, photo hobbyists brought out the big equipment to take photos of the early cherry trees.

Did you know that Shinjuku Gyoen has twelve species of cherry? And that they bloom from late February into mid April? There’s a very educational chart. I believe the one above is Prunus x kanzakura (カンザクラ、寒桜). If so, it’s about one to two weeks behind the schedule.

Not sure if I will be brave enough to return to Shinjuku Gyoen during peak cherry season when literally millions of people fill the park. Here’s my favorite photo from last year’s cherry season: a salaryman perched precariously on the Imperial Palace moat’s rail to snap a photo with his cellphone.

What’s your favorite place for cherry blossom viewing? Famous spots or neighborhood spots? What’s the most unlikely place you’ve seen cherry madness?