Another beautiful Fall day, another chance to get outside those gates. Our destination this time? Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Tokyo. This garden is located in the central part of Tokyo and was opened as an imperial garden in 1906. From 1906 until 1947 this garden was for the Imperial Family's use only. The garden was destroyed during World War II and was transferred for pubic use and reopened in 1949. The garden has three areas the English Landscape Garden, the French Formal Garden and the Japanese Traditional Garden. First stop – the Chrysanthemum Exhibition being held in the Japanese Traditional Garden.
I love, love, love gardens and since moving to Japan I've really enjoyed learning about the "Japanese Way" of garden design. I've taken oodles of pictures, pictures of lanterns, garden paths, bamboo fences, trees that have been amputated, I mean severely pruned. It is such a different way of garden design from what I learned as a Master Gardener and I'm fascinated. Most of the time, I take my photos, I take some notes, but rarely do they have any descriptions in English - the most I can hope for is I'll go home and try to find out more information the web.
Not so in Shinjuku Gyoen - much to my delight they had at each exhibition bed a description in English on the type of chrysanthemum we were viewing and any historical significance. A BIG thank you to the Japanese official that thought this was worth the time and effort - my garden experience was all the richer because of these signs. Here's what I learned that day ...
The Kengai style is a cascade style where small-flowered chrysanthemums are trained to look like wild chrysanthemums flowering over a cliff.
Ise, Choji and Saga-giku bed
Three different varieties were on display in this bed; the Ise variety has crinkled and drooping petals, the Choji has anemone-like flowers and the Saga variety has thing straight petals. The Ise and Saga varieties are trained to make a form of broom (seen in the Saga picture). The Choji variety is trained to have one flower in the center and is surrounded by six flowers (Ichiroku-zukuri).
This bed blew me away ... look closely at the photo taken from the bottom looking up, there is a single stem that this dome of blooms comes from! It takes a year for one root division to produce the hundreds of flowers that are known as the "thousand bloom" style. Through careful pinching and training this single stem grows into this beautiful flowering dome.
This classical medium flowered chrysanthemum was developed during the 18th and 19th centuries. The particular characteristic associated with this variety is that the flower petals change as the flower opens. Each cultivar is trained to produce 27 flowers.
Ichimonji and Kudamono-giku bed
The Ichimonji variety has a single large flowered head. The Kudamono (spider) variety has thin and straight tubular petals. The two varieties were planted in the Tazuna-ue (horse bridle) style, because the pattern resembles the horse bridle used for Shinto ceremonies.
Strict rules for the culture and display of the Higo variety, established by the Hideshima school were followed in this chrysanthemum bed. Historically, this classical single flowered variety was grown by samuari as part of their discipline.
|Ogiku (large flowered chrysanthemum)|
Ogiku (large-flowered chrysanthemum) is characterized by its incurved petals forming a puffy flowerhead. The flowers are arranged in the traditional Tazuna-ue style, diagonal stripes of yellow, white and red which is traditional to Shinjuku Gyoen.
Seven different Chrysanthemum beds, seven different ways to be inspired. I like chrysanthemums, they are another signal that the beastly hot days of summer are over and cooler weather and beautiful Fall days are here to stay – but I absolutely, totally stink at taking care of them. I try, each year I buy them with the hope that this will be the year that they maintain their garden store beauty and stay all full of blossoms, each year I realize I don't have the patience to deadhead off all the spent flowers, remember to water them everyday during the dry days of Fall. They require too much attention. My chrysanthemums fade and wither until I sigh and pull them to be replaced by easy care pansies. But seeing these beautiful varieties I'm rethinking this lack of attention - as the daylight hours dwindle I realize this is the time I need to be outside. I need to do something as simple as taking off the spent flowers, this simple meditative act will reward me with more than just a beautiful plant it will give me the chance to be inspired. "now where did I put those garden shears?..."