I love this Okinawa morning glory that I’ve been growing on my balcony for years. Even after a hard trim last fall, it’s back and blooming every morning. The flowers are brilliant against the grey sky.
This winter seems to never end. So I biked over to the local home center recently, and loaded up on bright flowers including daffodils, tulips, stock, and this amazing lupinus. I am familiar with it as a very handsome deep blue flowering perennial, native to North America, that becomes a bush. I’d never seen it in candy colors and bred for maximum floral display. It’s at once familiar, odd, and just the right antidote for more cold days.
The balcony garden in late summer is chaotic. A variety of perennials and annuals, flowers and vegetables, seasonal and year-round plants form a green curtain that provides some shade and cooling for the apartment. The long and narrow space also includes the air conditioner, washing machine, and clothes line.
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.
It’s lovely to see these flowers outside a small neighborhood restaurant. The set-up could not be simpler: easily re-blooming perennials. a liquor crate, recycled wood. A simple gesture communicates to the street and offers a chance for interaction with pedestrians.
Readers, I know the orange flower is clivia. What is the smaller salmon colored flower? I have grown both in San Francisco.
Update: Thanks to Jason Dewees, the salmon colored flower has been identified as Freesia (Lapeirousia) laxa.
I love this fall perennial border despite the lack of ground soil and space. Fifteen to twenty pots contain flowering ornamentals on the narrow curb between an Asagaya residence and the small street. The garden is very complete and very public. I admire the gardener’s generosity to passing pedestrians and bicyclists.
Our balcony’s Okinawa morning glory has started to bloom again. Unlike the variegated Japanese morning glories, this one is perennial.
A few weeks ago I took a long, rambling walk with Chris Berthelsen, author of the amazing blog Fixes which “investigates alterations of space/objects at the public/private boundary in suburban Tokyo.” I love his close observations, unlimited curiosity, and attention to materials and human effort and satisfaction.
The goal of our walk was to explore an area neither of us knew and attempt to get lost. In addition to some inventive fixes at a tiny park, we saw many beautiful gardens in Higashi Nakano. I love how the garden in the photo above focuses almost entirely on cymbidium orchids and clivia. Also noteworthy are the re-use of cinder blocks, the shelf that provides space for another level of plants, and the care in providing beauty at the edge between private and public space.
Another garden uses the two sides of a house to create a complex perennial garden using flower pots. Great variety of texture, color, and plant variety. I can only imagine how much more beautiful the garden would be if it were planted in the soil, and allowed to grow so much bigger.
I certainly would have missed this small garden below where both plants and bikes are tied with string to the window grate. It’s great to see that no space is wasted, and that multiple functions can be supported despite all constraints.
And lastly, I found this small, unpaved lane to be incredibly charming. The stick and bamboo fence, the line of trees and shrubs, the materiality of the soil all made me imagine that we were in a small country town, not two kilometers from the Shinjuku skyscrapers. There are still areas that seem wild within the center of Tokyo.