Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween from Chickadee Gardens!

 Halloween and this time of year grabs at my heart strings, revealing magic that hides under the guise of more cheerful months. I find Nature illustrates this magic better than any plastic lawn Frankenstein so in that spirit, let's take a tour around the green and orange things at this time of year to see if we can catch a glimpse of magic.

 On top of Mt. Tabor in my neighborhood stands a mighty big leaf maple tree, the one I call "the highest point in Portland". Whether or not that's the case, it is a mysterious tree with double trunks. Or maybe it's two lovers standing together to guard the lands below.

Here they are together.

 Mt. Tabor often has gifts left by fairies.

 Halloween at Portland Nursery.

 In the neighborhood.

At Portland Nursery.

 OK, this is not in Portland - rather in Mexico City, or DF, at the Frida Kahlo Casa Azul house. A shrine to her and Diego.


How's that for a color combination? Wow, electric!

What Portland Halloween is complete without a trip to Sauvie Island? It's a must-do, plus that's where Cistus Nursery lives. Two for one!

 At Casa Azul in Mexico City.

 Hobbes celebrates Halloween by eating pumpkins.

 Well, it's orange, anyhow.

Such perfect pumpkins! Leave it to Portland Nursery.

At Cistus last week.

The guy making the cider at Portland Nursery was bored. I like his creativity!

Our not so perfect pumpkins, but full of character. I love the face my husband carved on this guy. So cheerful, like him!

Thus ends our tour of orange and green (and sometimes scary) things. I hope you all have some magic in your day, green, orange or otherwise. Happy Halloween, Samhain, Autumn, everybody! May the Great Pumpkin choose your pumpkin patch this year! Boo!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Let's Go! Gardens of Japan Part II

Hello Japan!

Today, let's take a look at part II of our tour of the gardens of Japan. Last week we looked at the Rikugi-en Gardens in the NE section of Tokyo. Today, let's look at the inner gardens at Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine, an amazing temple complex in the heart of Tokyo, as well as some other shots around town.

Here is the massive gate which marks the entrance to the temple grounds. It's a good long walk in the woods along a gently sloping promenade to the temple, the gardens are on the way. Kikuchi told us the golden flowers on the gate are the symbols of Japan. Lots of groups of school children shared the walk with us, all so polite and smiling. Such a wonderful place.

 Hi David! Hi Kikuchi san!

 These are old sake barrels used as some kind of display along the path. Pretty cool, I think.

 The courtyard leading into the temple.

 School children lining up to buy good luck charms such as this:

This one is for no headache, I bought one for no car accidents!

Lovely offerings at the temple.

So off to the "inner gardens" - this is what the website says about this garden:

Meiji Jingu Gyoen (Meiji Jingu Gardens) is the only part of Naien (the Inner Precinct) that had existed long before the establishment of Meiji Jingu. In fact Emperor Meiji designed the iris garden, small paths, and fishing spot specifically for Empress Shoken in order to give her fresh energy. Fresh verdure in spring, various kinds of flowers in summer, autumn leaves, and snow in winter give inexhaustible charms to the garden all the year round.

This is the iris garden at the very lowest part of the garden, covered in netting - to protect it from critters, is what I remember. The whole area is surrounded by maple trees, it must be quite a treat to see in autumn. Very familiar foliage and plant types in Japan, so I felt right at home.

Speaking of critters, we spotted this guy in the forest. He is what's known as a tanuki - a Japanese raccoon dog - from Wiki: "As the tanuki, the animal has been significant in Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absentminded. It is also a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary."

In my last post I mentioned super tall azaleas. Here they are! This photo is by Kikuchi san. Thanks, Kikuchi!

Pretty amazing height on those azaleas. I wonder how long they have been there?

 At the end of a path we found this well.

 This ends our visit to the Meiji Jingu gardens, let's look at some shots around Tokyo of some interesting green things.

 A very oddly pruned ginko tree - there were a lot of these around. 

 A few more ginkos. Again, I sense these are very old and that's why they need such drastic pruning ??? Anyone?

 No idea what it says, but I think it relates to the growing things, don't you think? Plus it's cute.

 A typical Tokyo residential garden.

 In the Asakusa area of Tokyo at the Senso-Ji temple.

At the temple.

 The temple again.

Temple gardens. This was April so not everything was in full leaf yet.

 This is the beautiful gardens in the restaurant courtyard at the ANA International hotel where Kikuchi san treated David and I to a lovely traditional Japanese dinner. How's this for a view? Amazing. Those koi are at least 25 years old according to Kikuchi san.

 I will end today's tour with another small unknown shrine in the neighborhood our hotel was in. I love this guy, isn't his grin hilarious? Looks like my cat when he's been naughty.

This shrine is an example of many hundreds of small, intimate garden temples that must be dotted around the city of Tokyo. What a joy to stumble upon these treasures.

Next time we'll head out to Kyoto to visit two temples and a castle - all with amazing gardens, I hope you will join me!

Until next week, sayonara and thank you again to the wonderful Kikuchi san for his wonderful tours around Tokyo!