The pine trees should look their best for the new year. At Yoyogi park.
Thanks to A Small Lab’s Chris for sharing this sighting of Tokyo Tanuki with us.
雨の日の田町、ハナミズキが昭和の建物をもっときれいに見せています。隣の建物が今はコインパーキングになってしまいました。@Shibaura House の岩中さんと散歩して、来月のフィールドワークのワークショップの準備をしました。
On a wet day in Tamachi, this mature dogwood beautifies a Showa era building. The building next door has been replaced with coin parking. I took a long walk with Iwanaka-san of Shibaura House to prepare for next month’s “field work” workshop on green mapping.
The small shrine near our apartment is preparing for new year. The entrance gate has pine and bamboo decorations, and the tent is ready for the celebration. This shrine is very charming because of its small scale and its housing our extremely local gods. I have found myself drawn here several times this year, and I look forward to spending some minutes there to welcome the new year with the neighbors and the spirits that connect us with each other and this small part of Tokyo.
Recently I had the pleasure of taking Kobayashi Kenji’s modern bonsai class at Sinajina. In addition to making my own miniature landscape with a black pine, rock and moss, I learned that gardening in October is focused on making plants beautiful for New Year’s celebrations and guests.
The class used eight year old black pine trees. First we removed all the old, longer pine needles by hand and with tweezers. We removed nearly all the old soil to replace it with a fresh mix that includes volcanic rock and to expose some of the oldest roots at the base of the trunk. Then, we examined the tree to identify its “face” and position the tree in its new pot. Finally we added moss– in my case a taller hill that passes underneath one of the roots and a lower meadow– and small rocks.
Careful attention to form and style is clearly something that extends from miniature landscapes to residential garden landscapes. I am sure that many home-owners and gardeners are pruning their trees now to make sure that they are spectacular at New Year.
I also learned how to distinguish between black pine and red pine. Black pine needles are hard, unbending and sharp, while red pine needles are much softer to touch. Only when fully mature do red pine trees exhibit the bright red trunk that also distinguishes them. Black pine trees are mostly found near the sea, whereas red pine trees grow in the mountains.
Kobayashi sensei continues to be an inspiring guide to plants in urban life. In his anthropomorphism, plants become more human, and humans more embedded in nature. Plants are like people, he explains, in that they require most care during their first year, including more water. Once domesticated, plants cannot be returned to the wild since they have lost their survival skills and require continued human care.