These photos, from my telephone, show the narrow balcony garden awakening in spring.
このかわいいピンクと黄色のチューリップは もともとトルコとイランから来た 原種だそうです。ヒヨコさん、アムステルダムから球根を持ってきてくれてありがとうございます。たぶん昔のトルコとイランのチューリップはこんな風に小さくてきれいだったのでしょう。
I love these species tulips that Hiyoko brought from Amsterdam last fall. They are small and simple, with a great combination of pink and yellow. This type of tulip is closer to its wild origins in Turkey and, before that, Iran. Thanks, Hiyoko, for bringing these bulbs to Tokyo!
Showing off 11,000 tulips specially planted, the Netherlands Embassy opens its gardens to the public on April 13 and 14. I was fortunate to go the first day, and see the splendid varieties of color, height, and shape before the rains started.
One of Tokyo’s oldest and most renowned garden maintenance firm expertly selected dozens of hybrids, created a grand walkway, and also integrated tulips into the main garden of the residence. Planning extended the season as long as possible, which I heard is about three weeks.
Amidst all the bright colors in this grand setting, I felt like I was in a mini-Keukenhof crossed with Gatsby’s home in West Egg. We caught a glimpse of two chefs working in the kitchen, which made me think this diplomatic outpost with 400 years of history is not so far from Downton Abbey.
If you have a chance, please go today, or in the fall on Culture Day when both the residence and garden are open to the public.
White mini-daisies on Tokyo balcony. Handmade ceramic pots, all made at Shiho studio. In the background are tulips and succulents. I like mixing up things.
アムステルダムで住んでいる友だちは今月、日本で “tanemaki project”（種まきプロジェクト）をしています (@tanemaki2011) 。チューリップとパンケーキのワークショップを行います。寄付金付きを集めて、東北の仮設学校を飾ります。
My Amsterdam-based friends Hiyoko and Mark are in Japan this month developing their Tanemaki (planting) project (twitter @tanemaki2011). Hiyoko is a superb illustrator, and she’s organizing events to support decorating a temporary school in Tohoku. Last week they led a fun two-day tulip workshop at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, and this Saturday will be a pancake-making event with Mammoth School. It’s great to see them developing connections between Japan and the Netherlands, which have a special and long relation.
(Image: Hiyoko Imai).
I prefer small tulips over the large ones. This simple tulip growing in a pot I made is so cheerful. At a recent talk, an audience member criticized my interest in ornamental plants and suggested that the environmental impact is minimal or none. I disagree. Taking care of even the smallest plant connects you to the magic of nature and the existence of other living forms.
Despite much anticipation for this tulip to bloom, after five days in bloom it is now fading. There is a beauty to its entire cycle.
Tokyo’s mild winter is amazing. All these photos of winter flowers are from yesterday, January 20, 2010. Ranging from natural to forced, outdoors to indoors, the flowers include early plum blossom along an urban path to a red tulip in a sidewalk garden, to a mini daffodil at home.
Starting a week ago, this plum tree along a walking path to Nakano JR station began opening its petals. The tree extends from a private garden into a public path. After November and December’s camellias (and my balcony pink camellia is still blooming), the winter plums suggest that there is no month in Tokyo without flowers blooming naturally. My husband saw bright green mejiro birds in the tree later that day.
I also noticed these bright red tulips in a Nakano sidewalk garden that I often pass. It’s the garden that was growing rice in styrofoam containers last year. The gardener has planted some bulbs, but she’s also added some hothouse-forced bulbs to her charming public garden. Because frost is so rare, the tulips can thrive even in mid-winter.
I also saw another neighbor cutting roses from her sidewalk garden. Pansies are also common in winter.
Lastly, inspired by all this winter color, I bought some mini-daffodils for my home. Indoors, they go from bud to bloom incredibly fast. The bright yellow cheers up the apartment and fools me into thinking that spring is not so far away.