Recently, my mother-in-law surprised me by telling me that she attributes her garden’s explosive growth this spring to the Tohoku earthquake on March 11.
I was surprised, too, by its mega-growth: the hydrangea are enormous, once small variegated vines are sprawling, the self-sown shuro palm is pushing lots of new leaves. The growth is all the more suprising since the garden is very shaded, particularly after the plum and persimmon trees leaf out in April. I inquired about fertilizer use, but m-i-l insists that she adds nothing more than frequent watering when there’s no rain.
I love how her recent attachment to gardening have transformed a rarely used place into a great addition to her home and pottery studio.
This small garden includes the fruit trees that pre-date the studio, volunteer plants like the palm tree, and more recent garden plants. The sour plum tree produce thousands of tiny fruits that m-i-l makes into a home-made jam.
From Shiho blog.
On the way to the JR station, I passed a neighbor who was descending from her second story apartment and greeted her. Seemingly about 80 years old, she was carrying the bowl from her rice cooker. She showed surprised that this “foreigner” could speak (some) Japanese, and then proceeded to empty the water that had rinsed the rice onto her potted rose.
She was very proud of this blue-purple rose, which she told me her mother had given her. She also pointed out the potted loquat tree which would soon fruit and also an old grape vine tied up against the building. I admired her frugality in re-using water, her energy in traveling up and down the stairs, and her friendliness to this foreign neighbor.
This story highlights how gardening is enmeshed with frugality, anticipation and memory. Frugality includes the water-reuse and also on-going maintenance of the plants over many years. Anticipation for what is emergent and what will soon be. And memory sparked by plants about who gifted them and what life was like back when they were planted.