South America

Tall palms define border of 1970s modernist-style mansion’s lawn



Few homes in Tokyo have lawns, let alone a row of tall exotic palms. If I’m not mistaken, these may be butia palms from South America. What a cool garden. Near Sangubashi.

A small truck brings Buenos Aires Bar, an exotic treat, to central Tokyo



Biking through Yoyogi Park you never know what you’ll run into. One weekend, Shibuya Camp appeared with gorgeous tents and folk music. This truck brings a Buenos Aires Bar to Tokyo in fall. Based on the men’s fall outfits, you might think you’re at the start of a mountain trail in South America.


Palm trees in San Francisco, rare and common


Before I moved to Tokyo four years ago, I grew cold weather palm trees in San Francisco. On a recent visit, it was great to see the trees getting larger. Above is a pritchardia minor from high altitude Hawaii. Below is the far more common queen palm, a native of South America that has been deemed invasive in Florida and Queensland.

Fragrant Angel’s Trumpet flowers remind me of San Francisco


Angel’s Trumpet, or brugmansia, reminds me of San Francisco. Its big flowers are particularly fragrant at night. Originally from the Andes mountains of South America, in Tokyo this wonderful bush dies back in the winter and re-sprouts every April.

Intoxicating night scent of Angel’s Trumpet

Leaving an inspiring talk in Nishi Azabu-Juban yesterday evening, the intoxicating scent of Angel’s Trumpet made me pause. And take a photo.

Brugmansia is also very common in San Francisco (and many continents including New Zealand), although it comes originally from South America. It produces an incredible scent, but only at night. In Tokyo, the summer heat seems to overwhelm the plant. By fall, this hardy large shrub/small tree grows to three or four meters in height, and flowers continuously until winter frost makes them die back. By May they begin to shoot up from the ground.

Angel’s Trumpet, sometimes also called Devil’s Trumpet, is a strangely familiar plant: hardy and decorative, with a shamanistic function in its native Amazon habitat.