Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The power of flower: Play a bigger game?

Last week was the first tough week since I left my beloved Melbourne home.

It started with Jackhammers just under my bedroom stairs, which I found out would be going all week, due to leaking. Rainy season had just begun.

So I gathered my thoughts as best I could and took refuge at another freind's in Tokyo.

On arriving I found out that friend #2 also had a few days of noisy construction planned, with a builder due to visit my room at first light. Quite Quite unlucky.

I resemble a normal person, but arranging my thoughts in a straight line is a lot of work for my brain, even when things are quiet. One 'bang' and they all scatter like dandelion fluff, needing to be gathered back again.

I may be house-poor right now, but after all these years in Japan I'm getting rich in mates who let me come and stay. So I got my work-gear and life-gear together again, setting out in search peace and productivity.
"Dare to Play a bigger Game' Urged my glossy laptop bag, a souvenier from the NSAA convention last April.

Things didn't get better. My gear, myself and my frilly umbrella spent much of the week in trains, moving from house to house to internet cafe, feeling completely beaten in a very small game that is not the tiniest bit fun to play.

"Never feel sorry for yourself" is a basic rule for having a good and sane life, but I was indulging.

"What a pity you can't die of misery! All my troubles would be over!" These were my thoughts as I struggled though rush-hour Shinagawa Station towards the dreaded ladies room.

Then look, just look at what I saw:

Bougenvillia, Carnation, Geranium leaf and
Take Away Container, Shinagawa ladies Toilets.

Someone had bothered to do this.
Why did they do this?
I was so excited, I ran back to my luggage to get my camera, the dying of misery plans all canceled.


Someone had picked flowers in the rain, happily carried them in the crush of a Tokyo train, devotedly washed out old containers, and arranged them with care and flair.

I bounded back to the restroom with my camera, and just look who I found:

Typical Lucky Cecilia, I caught him in the act, making his corner of the world absolutely sparkle, deftly transforming things for a city's worth of sad and overburdened people.

Hero of my week, and uncontested winner of 'Play a Bigger Game'

Tokyo rooftop paradise: cloisterd gardens of Roppongi

More and more I'm suspecting that peace and beauty just a few steps away, steps in a direction we have always dismissed.

Because of my disciplined dedication to aimless wandering, its usually me that lucks into these special places. Here is another, the hanging rooftop gardens of Roppongi's Ark Hills.

I was visiting the lively new Ark Hills Farmers Market, and met the lovely lady who makes it all happen, Kanako Iwahara. From what I interpret of her business card, Kanako is the Assistant Happiness Manager for the people who live in the Ivory-beige towers of Roppongi Hills.

She is also a lady with an impressive set of keys, and since its my big hope to meet the garden club members and have a Permaculture presence up there, up we went.

We pass a series of themed garden Rooms - rose garden, native Japanese garden. These dappled, convivial gardens are where salarymen and office ladies descend to enjoy probably the most pleasant hour of their day - lunch, birdsong, scented flowers, and maybe the pleasure of each others company.
Maybe I'm wrong about it being an entire hour though.

Here we are on the roof of Suntory Hall, closed to the public most of the year, to "conserve its function as a bird sanctuary". Its true, the birds are whistling their little hearts out up here.
But Kanako tells me that its the musicians downstairs that were the problem . It seems they complained that the thump of feet on grass was getting into their symphonies, so the public get to see this part of the garden few weeks only, spring and autumn.

Edible gardens usually need to be private to succeed, and tantalizingly are always the most alluring. These are the gardens where people feel confident they can invest all their creative energies, that what they plant will still be there tomorrow.

Unless they eat it.

There is the mix of flowers, food, and insect attracting plants that you would expect in an organic 'ecosystem' garden.

They don't know the word "Permaculture' (yet), but they are doing all the right things up here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Swirly Path to Creating Community Garden Lemon

Private 'Artist's Gardens', where the pioneering gardners can
succeed intensively in a small space, and inspire the rest of us.

CLCA (Children's Learning and Cutlure Association) wish for a community garden in the mountains of Odawara. I've never seen a successful remote community garden, and I would never normally design a garden that isn't about a meter away from where the gardener cooks and eats.
But with the love and resources CLCA has, its quite possible this pretty, sloping land by the sea can be made a place that attracts peoples love and rewards their energies.

Yesterday off I went to present my design, and a slideshow of the worlds best (and worst) community gardens, from which we will be borrowing (and pre-warned).

We didn't intend to start creating it, but since it was such a great group of people, including legendary Farmer Ishiwata and Resourceful Farmer Hoda, a workshop day just happened.

The first thing you do when you create a garden is ....

....hold a raindance.

But thats just in dry old Australia, and since it is rainy season here anyway, we abandoned the dancing and went right on to adapting the map to the territory.
We re-designing the paths to fit views, existing trees, where people would naturally wish to sit or gaze, and how many steps people would actually take.

Desinging, trying out our curves with bamboo and string. Seeing that its not working, adjusting, getting better and better.

Thats how you make anything.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pulled by desire: The old Railway Sleepers found us!

Posing the Makuagi Railway Sleepers at Asaba's garden-to-be

Someone said that a constant stream of the things we desire floats past us, but we never look up, never reach out and grasp them.

Asaba-san is not one of those people. She is such a natural at Permie Resourcefulness. After our breakfast the other day she jumped in the car to find free fencing materials.

An hour later she came back with the whereabouts of a stash of timber railway sleepers.

Yes, for free.
And for some reason, cut to the lengths specified in my garden design sketch.

While I busied myself with cocktail chatter...

Asaba-san, in her sixties, was hauling her treasures into the car, and into the garden.

Like all things Asaba, its going to be a great garden.