south

Balcony camellia pushes pink petals against city sky

このベランダの椿は冬の日差しが好きそうです。

Our south-facing balcony gets a lot of winter sun. This pink camelia started blooming at new year, and it’s reaching its peak now.

Balcony green curtain

Bitter melon, balcony green curtain

Inspired by the Suginami Ward Office’s giant green curtain, we have started a green curtain for our south-facing balcony using bitter melon and morning glory. Above you can see the first vegetable taking shape. Below a wine-colored morning glory; other colors include white, blue and white, pink and white, and “crystal blue” from Okinawa.

With twine, we have created a simple structure connecting the railing with the laundry support attached to the balcony ceiling. It is amazing how fast the vines grow in the Tokyo heat and humidity.

morning glory, wine color, balcony green curtain

Government

Innovative government projects include Tokyo’s Suginami ward office building. In 2008 the municipal government in 2008 planted the world’s tallest “green curtain” to reduce carbon dioxide, lower energy costs, and demonstrate new green technology.

Suginami assembly green curtain

The green curtain covers the south wall of the main city offices, with support from a net nearly 29 meters in height, and a wall of vegetation consisting of fast-growing vines such as loofah, cucumber, gourd and morning glory. The vines are growing in small containers, with a moisture sensor that makes watering very efficient. During summer and fall, the offices are cooler by 4 degrees celsius.

This Tokyo ward-level project is an amazing demonstration of vertical urban gardening, but unfortunately little information is available online in English about this project.

UPDATE: There’s a fantastic 2010 blog about a Suginami resident creating a small green curtain. Wonderful photos document the progress, lots of information about plant types, and participation of 4 year old child. Very cool!