Sunday, April 14, 2002

Planting a Flower Bed

I wrote in a previous entry about the "Yellow Garden" at our mountain villa. In the fall of last year, we started bringing in some topsoil to a certain area to make a flower bed in this "desert-like" sterile ground. I'm at our villa today, along with my wife and daughter, and the daffodils and trumpet daffodils that my wife planted at that time now have some lovely, delicate flowers. The entire plant, as well as the flowers, are smaller than the ones that grew a couple of months ago in our garden in Tokyo, but, since there are practically no other plants with flowers around, these really make us feel rich. Flowers do that. Besides the daffodils, there are also tulips in this as-yet-unfinished garden, but they still only have the green leaves and stems--the flowers are still buds.

My wife bought various flowers and plants in an array of colors at a nearby home and garden store. My job today was to make the flower bed a little larger so as to accommodate everything she'd purchased. As I wrote in my April 5th entry, I have some misgivings about bringing "foreign" plants into the garden of our mountain villa. The residents of this area agree, but it's really not necessary to bring in any plants. There are a lot of different types of plant life around here and, with the birds and the wind helping to carry different kinds of seeds, in 2-3 years the garden should look fine. The problem is that the people who build the villas "can't wait until then."

In this way, the plants that people like or prefer make their way into the mountains. It's not easy to predict how these plants will effect the ecosystem here. So, if one were to ask the residents of the villas, "Should we bring them" or "Shouldn't we bring them", they would probably have to answer the former. The reason for this being that the villas were built, not to preserve the mountain ecosystem, but because people have found something that suits their taste. In order to make this suitability complete, they make a garden. Even if they're concerned about the ecosystem, they shouldn't build a villa in the mountains in the first place if they are going to make it a priority. So, although they may feel some inconsistencies, they generally go ahead and pursue their own choices.

That may be true, but "continuing what you start to the very end", like some athletes believe, is something you should think about. It's like saying, "Once you start smoking, you should continue smoking until you die of lung cancer." It may be wrong to compare the addicting effects of nicotine to choices of flowers, but one should never overdo things. The reason that you build a villa in the first place is because you feel an attraction to a new environment, so it's meaningless if you fill that area with plants that you already know. It's probably best to make use of the plants of that particular area as much as you can. No, the problem probably stems from thinking that we should "use" them in the first place. We need to look for a happy medium--balancing the plant life of that area, where it demonstrates its own innate strength, and our own choices, "a point of co-existence" between man and nature.

By the way, I thought of all this after my wife had bought the flowers and we had planted everything. While she and my daughter were deciding on the types and colors of flowers, I was in a different part of the store trying to see if they had any cherry tree saplings. The basis for this, of course, is very human. The cherry trees in the lowlands of Ohizumi Village are in full bloom now, and I wanted to recreate that beauty next year, or in a few years, near our villa. Right now, we have a wild cherry tree in the middle of the deck on the south side of our villa. But, because it's had to "fight" with a larch tree for the sunlight in the forest, it's grown long and thin, and the branches with all the flowers are located way up high. What I wanted to see, without straining my neck, was not the white cherry blossoms (of the wild cherry trees) but pinkish blossoms of the cherry tree. Humans are, indeed, very selfish and self-centered.

The flowers that my wife bought the day before were pansies, blue daisies, escortia, Arenaria Montana, and lupines. Since you have to write all these names in "katakana" you can just about guess the "birthplace" of these flowers. I used my hoe and dug up the ground on the east side of the Yellow Garden. After sifting out the stones and rocks, leaving only fine soil, I took the ashes from our wooden stove and mixed it with the dirt. I then mixed the compost that we'd brought from Tokyo, and was finally able to extend the flower bed by about 6 square meters. The compost that we brought was made of some leaves from our garden there. So, there were different seeds, the eggs of different insects, larva, and even worms in it. In this way, parts of the "nature in Tokyo" and "nature from abroad" were transplanted to a part of the Ohizumi Mountains, and will search for a "point of co-existence" within nature here.

- MT

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