Suntory

Simple filler plant chosen for leaf color is on creepy edge of bio-tech and urban garden marketing

色がおしゃれなので、最近この濃い葉の植物を買いました。ラベルにはおかしなマーケティング戦術が見えます。前には、「テラス・ブロンズ」という名前しかありません。色はブロンズというより、もっと紫に近いです。さらに、グリーンカーテンにと書いてありますが、この植物は登らないで、しだれます。サントリー製品で、無断で商品として使えません。ヒルガオとアサガオに関係します。
I bought this dark leafed plant as filler and good contrast in leaf color.
When I brought it home from Shimachu, our home center, I realized that the front label doesn’t even mention a horticultural name. It’s simply called “terrace bronze,” and it’s marketed as a balcony plant in their “terrace series.” Oddly, they even suggest it as a “green curtain” plant, although it would make a better weeping wall cover than climber.
On the label’s flip side, the tag explains how Suntory reserves all rights to this species, including any future plants. Kind of scary, no?

Hanami-themed highball in a can

日本に来る前に、缶入りのハイボールを見たことがありませんでした。サントリーは花見用に特別な缶を作りました。

I had never seen a highball, or a whiskey and soda, in a can before coming to Japan. Here Suntory has dressed up the can for cherry blossom viewing.

Pink “senette” blooms all winter

ピンク色のセネッティは長持ちします。冬に陽気な花です。

I was very skeptical of this plant when I purchased it at the end of last year. It’s amazingly long lasting. I bought it at Shimachu, and it’s produced by Suntory, the beverage maker and garden supply company. I think it’s very cheerful, especially for winter.

Balcony garden update

I took this photo a month ago, and our balcony garden is now even more lush. It’s amazing how much incredible heat and daily watering can increase bio-mass!

It’s amazing what you can fit in a sunny narrow space. I have six mini-watermelons ripening on the railing and green net, three Saipan lemons, two types of morning glory, the 5bai midori satoyama boxes bushing out, cucumbers still flowering and creating fast food, and some random flowers including mini-sunflowers, abutilon, and Suntory hybrids ミリオンベル (million bell) and アズーロコンパクト. Plus there’s basil, parsley, and thyme, all of which I put into my bolognese pasta lunch today.

The floor area is full with just enough room to walk through for watering. The vertical space is about half full with the net and some additional twine. I like how the old washing machine is nearly hidden by plants.

Some failures included corn, with tiny ears that formed and then turned brown. The rose which was so outrageously pumped up when purchased has hardly bloomed since. The incredible heat this month killed my first bonsai, a Japanese maple (もみじ) in a tiny pot.

Some surprises included the late growing bitter melon (ゴーヤー) now shooting up. I planted last year’s seed in April, and it hardly grew until about three weeks ago. Now it’s two meters tall, and perhaps will produce a few vegetables before typhoon season. Bitter melon tastes great with ground pork!

My friend Matthew, who now works at Sinajina, pruned my pine bonsai. Apparently now is the time to start thinking about shaping it and preparing it to look its most beautiful for the new year. I wonder how to keep my tiny garden green during winter.

Suntory Midorie & Gaia Initiative: Corporate ecology

Suntory Midorie

Japanese corporations are funding innovations in urban ecology. Suntory, one of Japan’s largest beverage companies, has a subsidiary called Suntory Midorie that creates green roofs and green walls. Examples of their work are on display in Shibuya and used on Suntory’s Tokyo headquarters.

Gaia Initiative is a non-profit that brings together corporate leaders and academics to promote environmentalism. They are currently sponsoring anthropologist Takemura Shinichi’s Tangible Earth, a giant globe that provides live data about global warming, climate change, and disaster prevention. The adviser list includes CEOs of leading companies such as Benese, Pasona, Mitsui Fudosan, Doutor Coffee, and Asahi Breweries.

A great source for news in English on Japan’s corporate eco initiatives is CScout Japan, a trend research company. Check out their blog’s “eco” tag.

I wonder if there is this much corporate activism in Europe and the United States. And in Japan, I wonder how corporations can best work with ordinary gardeners to transform cities into urban forests.

Corporate ecology

Pasona o2, LED lights

In Japan, all corporations have “Corporate Social Responsibility” groups, and most of them focus on the environment. Some corporations have grant-making foundations (such as Coca Cola Japan), and others have green businesses (Japan’s largest car company Toyota and largest beverage company Suntory both have green roof subsidiaries).

Starting on April 1, 2008, nineteen large companies formed the Japan Business Initiative for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (JBIB). Members include major electronics, construction, housing, insurance, food and telecommunication companies. I am hoping to learn more about this group, and its efforts to become corporate leaders in advocating for biodiversity.

Shortly before it closed for renovations, I visited an unusual basement farm set up by one of Japan’s largest staffing agency Pasona. Named Pasona o2 (a summary in English here), this underground farm aims to raise popular awareness of agriculture, provide relaxation for nearby office workers, and attract media attention:
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