Even in my small balcony garden, I have an area under a plant shelf where I store plants that are dormant or less interesting. Shu recently discovered tall flower stalks on the Cherry Nymph amaryllis from two winters ago. Our amaryllis produced two enormous flowers during rainy season.
I noticed in the neighborhood that others also had this amaryllis blooming now, including several pots right alongside Nakano Dori. Below my plant is a recycled nursery school chair from Shizuoka. It’s of course very small, which fits our balcony, but it’s also surprisingly strong.
Encouraged by my host Suzuki Makoto sensei at Tokyo University of Agriculture, I recently visited the Edo Gardening Flowers exhibit being held at the Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art until November 26,2009. The exhibit has spectacular colorful wood block prints showing flowers and plants in a variety of urban settings including kimonos, at festivals, commercials nurseries, educational materials, Kabuki actors, and Noh dramas.
The exhibit theme is that the Edo period experienced a “gardening culture” in which a passion for gardens and flowers permeated all social classes, including court nobles, shoguns, feudal lords and the common people. According to the catalogue, “the Japanese people’s passion to flowers surprised the American botanist Robert Fortune as seen in his diary upon his visit to Japan in the late Edo period.”
An interesting comparison is also made between between the widespread practice of Edo gardening and also the interest of common people in wood block prints. It is wonderful to see the use of flowers and plants in both high culture realms and in depictions of everyday life during the Edo period.
Two of my favorite prints are collections of plants used by children to learn the names of flowers. The one below, from the back cover of the exhibit catalog, has the names in hiragana. The exhibit also includes Edo era ceramic plant pots.
Some more images after the jump, and also a list of plants seen in the wood block prints.
Garden Square is located on an enormous plot of land in a quiet residential neighborhood in Nerima, Tokyo. Most of the land looks wild, and is used by a landscaping firm as its nursery. The owner also constructed a rustic chic modern building, with a pastry shop and flower and plant shop on the first floor, and an Italian restaurant on the second floor.
The back yard has a trellised vine, which on closer inspection, turned out to be a kiwi.
Across the street is an open wood structure with more plants for sale, open to passers-by.
Unfortunately, you cannot enter the nursery area. It is strange that this huge urban space appears more like a place for growing plants than retailing them.