gardening

Gardening in the Neighborhood

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Flower Burst Wall Window

The weather today has been gorgeous.  It might seem strange but after a few days of some weather that just confused me, it is nice to have awoken to clear skies and coolish air.

The weather on the stroll around this Narashino neighborhood on Friday was perfect.  The small plots of land are always stuffed to the bursting point with plants.  The Japanese had a great knack when it comes to using space efficiently.  Most people who are into gardening will have plants lined up on walls, in front of the home, and even planting some in the earth if they have the space.

I love look at how beautiful and compacted these gardens are.  There is so much concrete we are surrounded by everywhere we turn, it is a pleasure to see some green leaves reaching towards the sunshine.

I too have tried to use my space efficiently by planting a container vegetable garden this year on my patio.  I will keep you posted on it’s progress.

Keep on sowing seeds!

Bush Wall Taped Up Mailbox

I Wanna Be in an Industrial Garden

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Industrial Garden Line Up

There is something so beautiful and so sad about the industrial gardens I came across on the other side of Urayasu yesterday.  Here I was with the noise of pounding, grinding, and torching which could be beard just above the nearly typhoon strength wind.  Concrete to my left, and steel to my right.

But wait, there was more.  Each factory had a small garden.  Some where quite small and only consisted of a few potted plants.  Others were lavishly landscaped yards.  My own aesthetic tastes sides on the more haphazardly designed gardens.  Those gardens where no thought was really given to the organization to placement of the plants.

All the plants somehow work together in this land of disharmony in order to create a more perfect patch of living greenery.

The Japanese have a desire to beautify their drab surroundings even among the industrial backroads of society.  Sometimes these gardens even have vegetables and fruit being grown.  It always amazes me the connection that many try to make back to their agricultural roots.

So, this is where I want to be.  I want to be in a garden.  I want to be among the green, the fruit, the veggies. Those spaces within the urban environment where I can feel at home.  Where I can gaze out onto green patches even if there are sparse and are smack in the middle of concrete and iron.

Industrial Entrance Garden

 

Industrial Roped Off Garden

 

Limited Green in Akihabara, Electric Town

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

I needed to head into Akihabara to pick up a few things at Yodobashi Camera. One thing I have got to say is that any electrical goods store, can’t even be compared with the selection at Yodobashi Camera. And the customer service is outstanding. A big shout out to Uehara, who allowed me to charge my Ricoh battery so that I could keep shooting.

I am not to big on Akihabara. It attracts some of the craziest otaku (geeks) in all of Japan. Some of the backstreets are amazing. They are lined with tiny shops that sell just about anything that requires an electrical current. These little junk shops are amazing.

But, what I spied today was how little greenery there was in this part of town. All of the space had been gobbled up by the energy hungry shops and Donner Kebab fast food joints. There were a few oases of green here and there. Sometimes confined to small rows of potted plants in front of a store. Other’s were bound in on all sides by concrete and iron.

There among all the neon sings and concrete there was my green. There were the otaku are allowed to roam freely the green pops its head. FInd, the green I will. It reminds me of our delicate connection to nature.  I is the beginning of the Limited Green series.

Limited Green in Akihabara with Door anf_

Limited Green in Akihabara with AKB 48 and Tree

Limited Green in Akihabara with Plant

Winter is Alive with Citrus

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

I am not sure why I used to thing the whole natural world dies off in winter time.  I guess it was because i assumed it just got to cold for flowers to bloom or for fruit to ripen on the its branches.  It is probably just because I didn’t take the time to pause and to really observe the natural world around me.

Living in the urban jungle of modern day Japan I loose myself in the concrete and steel of its man-made structures. All the twist and turns of the human created environment my eye had become trapped.  It wasn’t until experiencing the after effects of the March 11th disasters that my eye had refocused to see the natural world around me.  Even if that natural whorl is confined to tiny roadside gardens and terra-cotta pots, the natural world is right there in front of my lens, if I choose to look for it.

This brings me too the bounty being spotted in the cold winter air.  I have come across trees that are just bursting with winter citrus.  Yuzu trees, an asian citrus used in seasoning, are ripe and bright yellow among the home gardens out in the suburbs of Chiba Prefecture.  They are all plump and ready for the picking.

Open your heart and eyes to the changing seasons.  Enjoy the bounty that we are blessed with even during the chilly winter  month.  Peel open a nice juicy citrus and get some of that vital vitamins and minerals.

Boutiful Citrus Tree, Chiba, Japan

Yuzu (유자, ゆず,  柚子) Citrus Ripening on Tree, Chiba, Japan

Obsessive Gardening in Chiba

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

I seem to be a bit obsessed myself these days.  I am be drawn into the highly packed world of the Japanese home gardens.  These are not the elegant gardens that can be found in Tokyo like Rikugien Gardens in the center of Tokyo.  No, these are the tightly packed neighborhood gardens that I find on my wanderings.

These gardens sometimes occupy the smallest spaces imaginable.  The might feature a row of potted plants sitting atop a cinderblock wall.  They could also be found in the tiniest of spaces that most foreigners wouldn’t even recognize as a backyard.  However, this is where the Japanese show amazing skill in how they use what ever space they have in order to be able to bring some greenery into their lives and in those that pass by on the street.  I would argue that there is more greenery, and green spaces to be found here in Tokyo that that of New York City’s green spaces.

There is so little space, and at times the concrete, glass, and steel seem oppressive, but all I have to do is to turn a corner and find a small contemplative oasis of green.  It might only be some herbs that occupy a windowsill, but that green is better than no green at all.

Spider Planter Mailbox

No Trash Here Garden

Potted Plant Row and Fire Extinguisher

Hanging Garden of Ichikawa and More

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The light is in a transitional phase now.  As the sun grows more distant, the temperature begins to drop the quality of the light changes.  The light of this early winter in the late afternoon shifts towards yellow.  I really am attracted to that yellowing light.  Even in the full glare of the sun colors are rich.  Hues pop out and speak to me though my senses.  Even as my throat ached I couldn’t help but reach for my Ricoh GR IV and capture some of that light.

The use of space is amazing in Japan.  The Japanese aesthetic manifests itself in sometimes the most unlikely places like small roadside gardens that are wedged into spaces that would just be discarded in other countries.  Here the space, any space, goes to some use.  I am always amazed how the zig zags of a home are often loaded with potted plants in a tightly manicured gardens.  Actually, they might not be so manicured.  Some of them go rather wild and free.  To my eye they represent the to dichotomies of Japanese aesthetics.  The reverence of nature, and the attempt to tame nature.  I see both in the way the Japanese create their personal gardens.  These are not the Japanese gardens that are listed as national treasures. They are the homeowner’s personal treasure.  A tiny space that reflects their love and interest in the natural world even if it may be surrounded by concrete and asphalt.  The flowers rise to greet the sun, and I stop and pause to admire their beauty.

The simple elegance of (your) neighbors friendly garden.

Elevated Row Garden, with Self

Hanging Garden of Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan

Stepping Up Cinderblock Garden

Sunday Afternoon in My Hood, Minamikasai, that is

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Finally, after spending nearly two weeks shut in I awoke without a sore throat today.  Such a relief to finally have gotten rid of that worst symptom of my never ending cold.  Since I had been shut in for so long I decided I needed to take a stroll.

The weather feels a lot more like spring that it does for mid-November.  I could actually wear a t-shirt walking around my hood.  Now my hood is like other hoods around the world.  Whether it is Brooklyn Heights, Kendall, West Baltimore, Temple Terrace, Ueno or anywhere else.  It might not be dangerous like some, but it is where I now call home.  I know where the corner stores all are.  I know which houses have the beautiful gardens, or where to avoid a run in with parent patrols.  It is my home.  It is Minamikasai (Southern Kasai) on the edge of eastern Tokyo wedged in between Tokyo Disneyland, which is actually in Chiba Prefecture, and Tokyo Bay.

I was surprised that there are still just bout no autumn leaves in the hood.  Again it is hard to believe that it is almost to weeks into November but there are no colors.  Most of the leaves are dirty brown rather than vibrant hues.

I am thankful for all of you that asked about my well being and my absence from the web over the last week or so.  Here are some still blooming flowers from my hood, to your hood, where ever that may be.

Sunday Gardening, Minamikasai, My Hood

Angel’s Trumpets and Tie Dyed Flowers

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

The heat is still on in my neighborhood.  The temperature hit 33 degrees (92) yesterday as the steamy summer has been continuing into fall.  I really don’t mean to complain, because before we know it the weather will be reversed.  We will be bundling up and mumbling to ourselves how cold it is.  So, for know I will embrace the warm weather.

On my walk back to the station, I took a long cut through the suburbs.  I do love to wander the backroads and see where people live.  It is thrilling to my lens to see how they care for the patches of land that make up their gardens.  The bright flowers are still contrasting against bitumen of the streets.  The heat rising of the streets was a constant reminder that the summer has yet to finish baking.

I have come across the Angel’s Trumpet flowers in my walks recently.  These long elegant flowers that have a reputation for causing visions if ingested.  It seems like these days that everywhere I turn I see these drooping yellowish orange flowers.  I wonder if anyone in Japan eats them and sees angels or demons.  It visual imprints that nature can be bountiful or, in this case, can cause hallucinations.

I need to get out more and see what there is to see in nature.  Even if that nature is confined to plastic garden pots.  Beauty is out there, somewhere.  All we have to do is to keep and open heart to see it.

Angel's Trumpet Flower

Livng Color Violet

Pitstops on the Riverside

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

I have committed myself to cycling as often as I can.  Lets just say it is about time for me to be more active as the years roll by. I been cycling pretty hard and fast with no time to take pictures, but today on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I grabbed my Ricoh as I headed out the door.

The river emptying into Tokyo Bay looked like chocolate milk after yesterdays downpour.  I stopped a few times for some clicks, but I didn’t take that much.  Hopefully more time will come up in August as I get the chance to roam around Tokyo a click away to my hearts content.

Bowing Dandelion

Violet Floats on Sea of Green

Got to do some Gardening

Friday, July 15th, 2011

I was wandering my way back to the station today, taking a route I had never taken before.  This is something that I really like to do.  The chance to just stumble upon something I have never seen before, and challenge myself by finding that opportunity to make art happen.

The sun was really blazing today.  The temperature must have been about 33 (93) out in the sun.  Beads of sweat rolled down the back of my shirt as I set off between the narrow roads that meander in this small town in Chiba.  I came across a small plot of land that had been sowed with some corn.  A beautiful row of corn whose silk was glistening in the scorching sun.  In front of the row of corn was a tuber vegetable of some kind.

It made think about how connected all humans used to be to the land.  The land was were our sustenance  came from.  Our ancient, and not so ancient, ancestors tilled the earth in order to feed their families.  I have my little patio garden filled with fruit trees that are more like giant bonsai plants than trees, and assorted herbs that I use in the kitchen, but nothing like a plot of land that can be tilled and the reap the harvest to serve up on a beautiful sabbath dinner.

It is something that is being added to a list of changes that must occur.  Some land to grow some vegetables, or at least convert part of my patio garden into a vegetable garden.  All I have to figure out is how to keep my kitties from using the vege garden for recreational purposes.

Shabbat Shalom Everyone!!

Corn pon Wall

VIne in Sync with Wall

22-31 Daisy Bush Wall

Terraced Gardening in Kasai, Keeping in Touch with Nature

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

The wind is howling with the threat of some heavy rain to come later in the day.  The clouds of dust and sand just are twirling around in the air.  I grabbed my camera to hit the neighborhood  before the rain hits.

I love the way my neighbors squeeze so many plants into tiny spaces.  There is no wasted space in our neighborhood gardens.  The potted plants crowd corners, spread across the entrance ways to little backstreet shops. I guess living in this urban sprawl we all try to stay in touch with our agrarian roots.  We want to be able to get our hands dirty with earth.  To help bring forth some color in beauty in what sometimes can be overwhelming times.

The plants, flowers, and gardens are there to remind us of our delicate relationship with the natural world.  We have been given dominion over the living world, but this does not mean we can exploit it.  We must act as protectors and nurturers of the natural world.

Plant those seeds, and watch them grow.  Give them the love that they need then we all can appreciate.

planting seeds….

Terraced Flower Garden, Minami Kasai

Step Up Garden with Hose, Minami Kasai

Barbershop Garden with Gnomes, Minami Kasai

Another Week, Time to Give Thanks

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Another week has come to a close here in Tokyo.  The week that was filled with dust, dirt, and pollen.  The air was playing hell with my allergies.  I tried to do the Japanese way of wearing a surgical mask, but that helped just a bit.

I am thankful for making it to another shabbat.  The time that has been set aside for reflection and rest.  To look back on the week, and be thankful for what we have.  And I am truly thankful.  I am thankful for my friends and family being safe and in good health.  I am thankful for all the beauty that surrounds my lens.  The flowers are a constant reminder of the change that is brewing here in japan.  The change that needs to happen for this society to overcome all of their difficulties.  I hope that they too will stop to take heed of this beauty, and let the colors inspire them to reach higher than they have ever before.

It is time to put away petty differences.  It is time to see the good in the world and time to put away childish selfish ways.  The glory bubble times are long gone.  It is time to sober up and put forth conversation, and real inclusive unity rather than just for show.

So to all of you, I ask that you in your works, take time to pause, and reflect.  Stop and look up high into the sky and watch the clouds dance across.  Stop, and look at your feet and see the little blooms that are scattered at your feet.

The earth will shake, the rain will fall, and we will be here, being thankful for the life that we are given.

Peace from Tokyo.

Junglefied Front Garden

Wisteria in the Neighborhood

Potted Step Up

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