Birthday flowers

A log of what’s blooming today, a love letter to the plants 555, and a birthday gift to myself of walking around outside at dawn with with a cup of coffee and a camera.

Before I even leave the house, I see flowers from the windows. The late-blooming camellia in the front garden is going to town; in fact all the camellias are still blooming.

The three-cornered leeks on their triangular stems are popping up in the crevices and edges of plantings. These are edible and so pretty in salads.

The red magnolia is full of buds – hard to photograph – and I am delighted that is is recovering from the house fire damage.

The driveway, cemetery, and Upper East Side are full of flowers. Everything is greening up quickly, and these pretty patches of color add interest along the walk.

Snowdrops bloom a little later here than down the road, where they have been open for weeks. The micro-climates of southern Chiba are interesting.

Forsythia makes me smile because I recall crawling around inside the tunnel of the Richardsons’ huge forsythia hedge when I was five or six.

Periwinkle (vinca) is such a gorgeous color. And it is so irritating to mow it. I might experiemnt this year and leave it to cover the ground and only maintain it where I need access to trees and other plants.

Violas of the palest purple. I have never learned to distinguish between violas and violets. They are in the same botanical family. I usually call everything a violet, but I know these happen to be violas.

The sakura at the top of the driveway is in full bloom now. It has a friend at the far end of the old rice fields, too.

Up in the hatake the potatoes are coming up, though they are hard to tell from the weeds. I have no idea how to run a garden, despite participating in several online garden groups.

I need a primer on what to do with an old neglected garden to bring it back to life. Every season I start with weeds, end with weeds and have weeds in between.

The witch’s garden is doing very well. We added a bunch of new herbs to the mix and now have:

  • Chammomile
  • Oregano (2 varieties)
  • Fennel (3 varieties)
  • Lavender
  • Tansy
  • Feverfew (2 varieties)
  • Hyssop
  • French Tarragon
  • Rosemary
  • Mint (7 or 8 types)
  • Weeds

The mint is crawling all over the garden and while it might trouble normal gardeners, it makes me happy. I’d love for it to spread so much that some of the other weeds die back.

Turning back toward the house, I tried to get photos of the plums fruiting near the field, and of the Japanese anise blooming, but my shots were out of focus.

Instead, I snapped the glory of the Goji bush and St. John’s Wort that frame the stairs into the hatake. They are lush. Last year the goji flowered, but I never saw any berries. The St. John’s wort is going to be amazing with yellow blossoms in a few months.

Behind the house, there is a cherry tree that suffered badly and is still recovering from the fire. It has a lot of buds on thin branches this year and they are about open. They need another day or two of sunny weather.

And at the end of the patio is the cheeriest bunch of daffodils. Or are they narcissus? Like with the violets and violas, I struggle to tell the difference. Anyway, they are bright and happy flowers.

And finally, me. A flower? Perhaps not, but I am a happy denizen of the garden enjoying her birthday morning.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.