Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tokyo's Everyday Gardens

Home to some of the most beautiful gardens in the world - including a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Japan has no shortage of spots for the gardening enthusiast to visit. Since our arrival a little less than a year ago, I've had the pleasure of visiting many of these and have been amazed again and again.

Yet, what I find the most striking and what still makes me pull a camera out time and time again are the everyday gardens tucked in every corner of the city.

While Ginza has its honey project and urban farming concepts shout from rooftops and sprout in office buildings, the single pot on a stoop or a balcony bowing under the weight of so many plants ten stories up touches me most.

Bound up with Japan's long and complex history of gardening and landscaping (and a rich agricultural heritage, too) these little gardens can be as simple as that single pot or a complex compilation of containers of annuals, perennials, vegetables, and herbs scrambling over and around each other.

While usually not large nor even, in some cases, resplendent, these everyday gardens offer little slivers of hope in what can be a gray cityscape. I imagine the hand and heart that tend the pot, savor the herb, and admire the bloom. And I realize that up there on the tenth floor or behind the door of that stoop is a fellow gardener.

Further Exploration
If you can't wander the streets of Tokyo here are a few things to whet your traveling (and gardening!) appetite!

Check out these images of some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that include gardens. Very inspiring!

More information on the history of gardening and landscaping in Japan can be found here, or for the old-fashioned folks out there, Josiah Conder's book - Landscape Gardening in Japan - is a classic.

This Metropolis article, a compilation of earlier posts from Tokyo Green Space, offers a really nice list of literally green spots in Tokyo. Both the blog and the recommended sites in the city are well worth a view.

(This post originally appeared at greenz in a remarkably similar format...)

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