Oh, The Linden Tree

Or, Tilia japonica, to be exact. Not to be confused with Tilia cordata or Tilia europa…though, this nearly perfect plant grows in so many different cultures of the world that I find myself falling in love with it for it’s open mindedness. My great friend Mark and I strolled along this romantic path together in Tokyo and this is the photograph that he snapped. Imagine my surprise to find this London like boulevard of Linden in Asia. The Linden is truly egalitarian and upright and social (can be crowded and planted quite close to another one) and healthy. It is no wonder so much of the world’s greatest writers have penned homages to this one. Here is a poem in the

    Paris Review

about the Linden just for you.

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Tea Party In Tokyo

I have been travelling around Asia lately photographing gardens. The Japanese take the cake in the 21st century for their style And, the 4th. And, the 14th. They essentially have three types of gardens, most of the influences begins in 400AD with Buddha and they continued to finesse until the 14th century. Karesansui Gardens, or Zen Gardens as we refer to them in the West, are the dry gardens that are abstractions…the box of sand with rocks and the rake, you might recall? These are for meditation. And, of course they exist not only in the miniature you are familiar with. Tsukiyama Gardens are the style that really makes the gardeners of the East famous with the gardeners of the West. These are the majestic sculpted gardens. I will talk more of these later as I have visited one of the style in Tokyo. And, finally, Chaniwa Gardens. Tea Party Gardens. The fountain above is typical and the visitor is to cleanse his hands before partaking in the sacred green Tea Party. The fountain is followed by lanterns and the lanterns light a path and the path leads to a tea house that is generally kept amongst the flora and out of site. These are the gardens that support the Western decorations of towers of cemented lanterns and fountains and such that are curiosities of our garden supply shops. In Charleston, South Carolina we have many formal gardens that have such accoutrement in them. The Tea Party was all the rave in the colonies, brought to America vis a vis the Dutch who colonized New Amsterdam (New York). The Dutch had the most magnificent Eastern trade on the ocean and brought with them the tea. Think about a serene scene and not these very, very misguided and embarrassing rallies that are going on across the United States today. The influence of the Japanese Tea Garden is one of my favorites: peace and harmony in the pretty garden.

Do You Say Pecan or Pacane?

I don’t know how many Americans would recognize this grove at this distance to be a quintessential Pecan grove, but, most Southerners do. We live amongst so many of these deciduous trees and pull the fruit of them from our windshield wipers all Fall and Winter long. Every time the breeze kicks up, Pecans fall all over our landscape and our grandmothers bake pies. This particular grove is part of Brookland Plantation in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. And, I always find the leafless fields in the cold season to be a lonely and lovely sight. I came across a really fantastic article here from the American Forests website, written by a botanist named Jeff Ball, that points out that the word pecan comes from the Algonquin tribe of American aboriginal/First Nations inhabitants to mean the nut so hard as to require a stone to crack. Maybe the Algonquins didn’t run across the Sumner Paper Shell variety or maybe that variety is a modern grafting product and didn’t exist when the tribe was pounding the nut wondering what they should call it. Mainly, I sit around and ponder the reason there is such a nasty, bitter slice in between so tasty and wonderful a prize. And, of course I can get into a conversation about the pronunciation…So how do YOU pronounce the word? It still is unsettled with me.

The Potting Shed V

I keep wandering out to the country this Winter and I can’t seem to embrace an Urban existence. And, in my hometown the country is called the Lowcountry. South Carolina’s coastal plain is filled with neat things to visit and most recently I have found Botany Island and it’s subsequent park, Botany Bay Plantation to be just lovely. I ran right into this gardener’s shed on the now public lands dedicated to the Department of Natural Resouces. I was so excited to see this little gem with it’s oyster tabby walls dating to the late 1700’s that I ran back here to research the potting shed. And, boy did I find quite a lot of material on the history of the shed, from a philology of the word shed across Teutonic translations unto philosophical derivations of the existential “shedliness” of the word shed. My interesting trek through the Google myriad of articles led me to laugh out right with this one from the Telegraph UK. Leave it to the English to corner the market on a precious potting shed contest!

Tokyo and the Olive Tree

I had to travel all the way to Japan this year in order to consider the climate they might experience. And, no doubt about it, I was surprised at just how humid it was this September past. I was in Tokyo. I loved it. The gardens and garden shops were fabulous! However, I never lingered over the idea that the islands that make the Japanese chain (remember that I was on Honshu) are sub-tropical, Mediterranean- style Olive Tree (Olea europaea) growing extravaganzas. They have festivals that celebrate the olive and offer the plant as a symbol of peace, as well. So, imagine my delight when I cruised past this shop and saw the silvery, silky, sexy Olive Tree for sale. It was an “ah ha!” moment because Japan sits on the Pacific Rim just like California and has limestone and craggy coastal shores. Olives love it there. Now, I begin to dream of tuna sashimi with a diced kalamata ponzu sauce. And, I thought it was going to be 100 % bonsai cedar, cypress, junipers and soba noodles…

Daffodils on Botany Island

I found these yesterday while touring Botany Island, South Carolina. And, of course, the name of the island speaks volumes.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: —
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

-William Wordsworth, 1807