purple

Perennial Okinawa flowers are brilliant against the grey sky

morning_glory_okinawa_purple

毎朝、灰色の空を背景に、この琉球アサガオが明るく咲いています。5年間くらい、この紫色の花がグリーンカーテンをきれいにしてくれています。

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.

Deep purple, decorative pepper offers flowers and fruits. Viewable from kitchen desk.

decorative_pepper_balcony_nakano
ベランダの紫色の唐辛子には、フルーツも花もあります。台所の机から、見えます。

From my kitchen desk, I can see this lovely decorative pepper, that has purple fruits and flowers at the same time.

A long line waits at shrine to give an offering at festival

神社の献金を上げるのために、待っている人が多いです。大宮八幡というきれいな神社に、夫は子供のときに、よく行きました。杉並区の善福寺川の隣です

Omiya Hachiman shrine is near where my husband grew up in Suginami ward. It’s also next to a beautiful green corridor that follows the Zenpukuji river.  I love the elegant building, and all the decorations including the purple cloth with Edo crests, the red and white stripes, the rope and lightning bolts, and the big lanterns.

Kikyou flowers on summer balcony

偶然にホームセンターでキキョウを買いました。後で、サンフランシスコの庭にあったcampanulaという花と関係があると知りました。ネットで、キキョウの家紋を見つけました。写真の背景には、種から育てたニューヨーク・トマトの芽が見えます。もういろいろの友だちに苗木をあげました。

I picked up three short kikyou plants at the home center, without knowing much about them. Later I learned that kikyou, also known as bellflower, are one of Japan’s seven fall flowers (yet oddly active in summer). Kikyou is also related to campanula, which spread rapidly in my shady San Francisco garden with abundant purple flowers.

In the (film) photo background, you can see the sprouts of New York tomatoes that I grew from seeds. I’ve shared the seedlings with many friends already.

I also discovered these cool black and white Japanese crests (kamon) based on kikyou. (Source: Wikipedia).

Winter decorative cabbage in flower ceramic

もう一つ、植物の室内撮影。ハボタンは東京の冬に育ちやすいです。この小さい紫のキャベツと花のデザインの陶芸を組み合わせるのがおもしろいと思います。

Still more indoor plant portrait photography.

Another plant that usually lives outside in the balcony garden, decorative cabbage is great for winter color. I also like how the purple leaves and mini trunk combine with the flower design of the ceramic. In San Francisco, raccoons ate our decorative cabbage the first night we brought them home. The next day two raccoons knocked on the backdoor with a hungry look on their faces.

Purple berries on murasaki shikibu pop on light green foliage

紫式部の果実は薄緑の葉に似合います。この特別な秋の植物は『5倍緑』という都市里山箱のなかで成長します。史火陶芸教室の前を、歩行者が注目しています。季節ごとに、小さい風景ができあがります。史火のホームペジで、この5倍緑箱が二年前にどんなだったかを見られます。

I love how the purple berries pop against the light green foliage. This hardy shrub is a classic fall marker, and a reference to the female novelist of the thousand year old Tale of Genji. Unlike my balcony specimen, which dropped its berries while still green, this one outside Shiho ceramic studio looks fantastic. It’s growing in a 5bai midori, the modular urban satoyama box.

I bought the first box two years ago, and the second last year. They really thrive on this north-facing sidewalk and draw attention to the studio and store. If you click on Shiho’s website, you can see on the home page how small the first one was. It just needs lots of water, and very occasional pruning. There are so many local species that each season has something special and evocative of the Japanese landscape.

Mint flowering in the late afternoon sun

突然、ベランダのミントに紫色の花がたくさん咲きました。午後遅くの日光に、葉は金と赤い色になります。秋の瞬間です。

My mint is suddenly full of purple flowers. And in the late afternoon sunlight, the leaves turn gold and red. It’s a fall moment.

I love having herbs on my city balcony: for cooking, for scent, and for variety. Mint is ridiculously easy to grow, and I hope the seeds travel and plant themselves somewhere nearby.

Murasaki shikibu is a hardy bush that symbolizes fall

紫式部の果実がきれいです。まだ緑色だけど、もうすぐ紫色になります。果実は秋のしるしです。

There is something very pleasing about the small berries on Murasaki shikibu, named after the author and heroine of the famous 11 century novel The Tale of the Genji. Here they are still green, but soon they’ll turn purple.

A walk through Harajuku backstreets on a hot summer day

原宿の路地を歩くと、いろいろな庭を見ることができます。おしゃれな建物のグリーンカーテンや戦前からある伝統的な日本庭園もあります。私が好きな庭はシンプルで、たくましくて、さりげないです。大きな青山団地でトマトとゴーヤを見つけました。

With @luismendo visiting from Amsterdam, my Tokyo DIY Gardening pal Chris and I took him on a tour of Harajuku backstreets looking at gardens, eating tonkatsu, and stopping for some excellent cold coffee.

Harajuku is fun because the residential area has houses and gardens from all or almost all the past eight decades. The Harajuku gardens that appeal to me are similar to ones elsewhere in Tokyo for their simplicity and easy adaptation to urban life. Some results are clearly unintentional.

My photos include a three story garden of ivy and bamboo that covers one house and provides a buffer with its neighbor, a sleek concrete building’s balcony green curtains that are just starting to fill out on two floors, a blue flowering vine that somehow became a giant bush, a tiny entrance garden outside a pre-war house that has been converted into the very elegant Omotesando Coffee.

We also explored the enormous Danchi that between 246 road and Harajuku. This sprawling bauhaus-like public housing project has a wonderfully chaotic and varied set of gardens created by generations of residents. In July, we spotted lots of tomatoes, vertical bitter melon, and these purple gloves on top of an ad hoc garden support.

Tree full of giant purple flowers

東大前の駅から出てきて、この木に咲くむらさきの花を見ると、しあわせになります。

Coming out of the Todaimae station on my way to teach at the University of Tokyo, this tree full of giant purple flowers makes me very happy.

If you blink, you’d miss these purple bulbs

まばたきをしないで見れば、紫色の球根が見えますよ。

If you blink, you would miss the brief bloom of these lovely purple bulbs. There’s a large patch of them along the entrance to my apartment building. The flowers are very delicate, and the leaves plentiful and verdant. I don’t know their name, but they seem to be very resilient. The entrance garden is divided between professionally trimmed hedges on the left and this large area on the right cultivated by residents and nature.

Update: Horticulturalist Jason wrote to tell me that it’s Bletilla, the easiest ground orchid to grow. It’s native to East Asia. The large patch in front of my apartment seems to require very little care. In Japanese, it’s simply called “purple orchid,” シラン。