Morning glory

Can you spot the tiny cucumber taking shape?

小さいキュウリが見えますか。グリーンカーテンにぴったりの植物だと思います。

Cucumbers grow quickly, and they are easy to attach to the green curtain.

Another view of balcony morning glory

琉球のアサガオは生き生きとしています。

This angle gives you a good sense of the balcony green curtain. By now, it’s very thick and composed of several vines. The Okinawa morning glory is the most vigorous.

Sidewalk morning glory grown from seed outside Shibaura House

5月のたべるみどりみるみどりでジャレドさん@JBraiterman と一緒にSHIBAURA HOUSEの前に蒔いた朝顔がこんなに花をさかせました!

https://twitter.com/shibaurahouse/status/246768749376573440

Morning glory on green curtain, with cityscape in background

最近、たくさんフィルムの写真をとっています。マクロレンズを使うと、ベランダのジャングルで特定の要素が見えます。これは、琉球アサガオです。背景に、都庁やハイヤットやオペシティがあります。ところで、「シティ」という日本語の発音はとても変です。

Recently I am taking a lot of film photos, and recently I bought a macro lens which allows me to focus on specific elements of the jungle that my balcony is becoming. This is Okinawa morning glory, the mainstay of our green curtain.

In the background you can see the twin towers of Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Hyatt hotel from Lost in Translation, and the Opera City building. The last building always makes me laugh because the Japanese pronunciation is “opera shitty.”

Wilted morning glory in afternoon sunshine

朝早くに、琉球アサガオの濃い青色の花がたくさん咲いています。昼には、しおれて花がピンクになります。これはフィルムの写真です。

Early in the day, this Okinawa morning glory is a deep blue with lots of large blooms. I like how by afternoon, the flowers turn pink as they wilt.

Morning glory adds natural curtain to balcony apartment

毎年この琉球アサガオは狭いベランダにきれいな色と影を作ってくれます。プライベートな空間ができます。

In mid-summer, the morning glory provides color, shade, and privacy on my one meter wide (3 feet) apartment balcony. The smaller jasmine leaves provide a nice contrast. Also on my green curtain are Edo morning glory (vs the Okinawa one above) and cucumber.

Morning glory in black and white

最近買った中古のフィルムカメラで、黒白フィルムを使いました。アサガオの濃い青色の花も緑の葉も強いですが、カラーのフィルムより詳しく形が見えます。蟻も見えます。

With my new film camera, a 10 year old model, I tried out a roll of black and white film. I like how the color is taken away from the deep blue flower and dark green leaves of this morning glory. Instead you can see the form more carefully. I like how you can even see some of the many ants that have inhabited the balcony garden and green curtain.

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.

Perfect morning glory green curtain covers the entire balcony

この朝顔のグリーンカーテンはベランダをずっと覆っています。ちょっとうらやましいです。古い建物だけど、生き生きとしています。

This morning glory green curtain covers the entire balcony in a 1970s apartment building. I am envious of how vigorous and full this vertical garden became. It seems that all the apartments have nets, perhaps to deter birds, yet few are so well used.

Edo morning glory has white border and stripes

江戸朝顔のほうが小さくて、色がたくさんあります。沖縄朝顔とは違って、江戸朝顔は白い縁どりと白い縞があります。歴史と花の大きさを考えると、東京にぴたっりです。

I am a big fan of Okinawa morning glory and Edo morning glory. The Edo ones typically have a white border and stripes, and come in many colors. They’re very showy, a good size for domestic spaces, and they evoke Tokyo history. The Okinawa morning glory is a deep blue perennial, and quickly spreads and covers much more space. Both share a distinctive leaf shape.

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.

Two views of balcony green curtain

These are two views of my balcony green curtain. I purposely trained the Okinawa morning glory to create a grid pattern on top of the string net. Last year it flowered into late September. My green curtain is not as lush as this amazing house’s green curtain with nine species. Below you can see a side view with the Shinjuku skyscrapers in the distance. In addition to the morning glory, there’s cucumber and watermelon growing on the railing and net.

Edo morning glory

Even though I planted the seeds back in May, it’s only recently that the Edo morning glory vines have climbed up to the top of the balcony and begun blooming. As their name implies, the flowers are most spectacular in the morning. By afternoon, they wilt and are finished. Each day there are about a dozen new flowers.

Last year, I visited the famous Iriya morning glory festival and bought five different colors. Last year I harvested seeds from all the plants (and also bitter melon, chamomile and some that I forgot). It’s interesting that all of my plants, and those I gave to friends, are this red and white variegated variety.

Here you can see that I stored the seeds in sake cups bought from a student at Shiho ceramic studio.

Morning glory green curtain in front of 3331 Arts Chiyoda

3331 Arts Chiyoda is a cool art space recently created by the Chiyoda ward government. They converted an old junior high school into exhibition galleries, art studios, and creative industry offices. In addition to a beautiful remodel of the unused school building, the ward also refurbished a small park at the entrance.

Katsuhiko Hibino created this  created this beautiful morning glory green curtain rising on the front side of 3331 Arts Chiyoda. Called the Asatte Asago project, the morning glory seeds here had been taken to space by Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamasaki. The project involves community gardening and sharing across different regions of Japan.

Other green projects at 3331 Arts Chiyoda include Chaco Kato’s”Slow Wheat” project at the cafe, with wheat grass plants that will be used as a health drink. The art space is also offering small vegetable plots on the school’s rooftop. If you live nearby, check it out!

On August 21, 2010, Chris Berthelsen of Fixes and I will lead a bilingual interactive workshop on greening the city from 7 to 9 pm. More details will appear soon. The same day, Kato-san will be teaching a beginner’s compost class in the late afternoon.