Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Seen in the Garden Today: Trillium

Trillium in Japanese: enrei-so
by Lynnda

On Tuesday, I visited the Garden with a friend who is a botanist. At times, the sun was shining, but moments later, dark clouds changed the mood and temperature. The turtles couldn't decide whether to climb onto rocks and wait for the sun or to go for a swim. The sword ferns have begun to unfurl their new fronds. Although this spring has been slow in arriving, the Garden is beginning to show signs of renewal.

On the west side of the WPA bridge, there are a few
 clumps of trillium, such lovely early harbingers of spring. What I learned from my friend is that trilliums change color once they have been pollinated. It's a trick that the flowers do to help the insects know that they should go find another flower to pollinate. The more time that passes since the pollination, the darker in color the trillium becomes until the flower turns to burgundy. Most of the Garden trilliums are still a very snowy white.

As we were walking on the west side of the pond, we heard the "cheep, cheep" of an osprey, and looking up, we saw it being chased by a crow. It was a lovely day in the Garden, and there were so many more plants beginning to bloom. This is the time of year that a visit each week gives an opportunity to greet another friend returning from a long winter absence.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Sun Always Rises •  A Benefit Concert for Japan

Cherry blossoms
UW campus  April 2011
Saturday May 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm
at ACT's Falls Theatre

700 Union Street Seattle, WA, 98101
All proceeds will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

For one night, Seattle musicians come together for an evening of music to benefit the Japanese Red Cross Society and its ongoing relief efforts in areas hardest hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The concert is made possible in part by the generosity of ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) who has donated the use of the Falls Theatre for the event.

The lineup of artists includes Sarah Rudinoff, Miss Mamie Lavona the Exotic Mullatta and Her White Boy Band, The Live Girls! Ladies Choir, Jacqueline Tabor, Total Experience Gospel Choir, as well as three taiko drumming groups – One World Taiko, Kaze Daiko, and Seattle Kokon Taiko. Local favorite actress and performer Kate Jaeger (Teatro Zinzanni’s Zirkus Fantasmo) will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies. The evening’s proceeds will go to Japanese Red Cross Society.

In addition to the performers who are donating their time, several theatre companies in Seattle are joining the effort by providing services, taking up collections or donating a portion of their box office from one evening’s performance of their current show with the help of TPS (Theatre Puget Sound).  Participating theatres are: Wing-It Productions, Pork Filled Players, SIS Productions, Youth Theatre Northwest, and Live Girls! Theater Company.

Tickets: All tickets for The Sun Always Rises are $25. To purchase tickets, contact ACT box office at (206) 292-7676 or go to www.acttheatre.org

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seen in the Garden Today: Mt. Fuji cherry blossoms and a bunch of New Yorkers

SJG • Pieris or Enkianthus? (for answer read
the bottom of the post) pic added 4/24

Pieris in Japanese: asebi
Flowering cherry in Japanese: sakura

by aleks
(Click on the pics to enlarge them)
•  Pieris or Enkianthus?  When Dewey and I were waiting for our tour-people to arrive from wherever they got stuck last Tuesday, a lady just leaving a garden approached us asking for a name of a particular bush that she saw in bloom on the path to the wisteria trellis; she described it as having pendulous bell-like white flowers and said she looked it up in our plant book but still couldn't locate its name.  I'm pretty hopeless with plants so could only offer to take a pic of the shrub, try to find out what it is and post the answer on the blog, but the lady's next statement, that she originally thought the plant has flowers in two different colors, until she looked closer and noticed that the red stuff is not a flower but a new growth, made Dewey cough up the answer: 'very likely Pieris Japonica, which is in bloom now'.  I was so happy that the question was answered that I didn't photograph the plant, although did stop to admire it. Just now looked in the plant book and found no pieris in the area...:( but found Enkianthus campalunatus which,  if i remember correctly, closely resembles pieris at certain times of the year.  So, the jury is still out - I'll go back and photograph the bush before identifying it here, although I suspect it IS enkiantus as the flowers seemed more open, lily-of the valley-like and not closed at the bottom as pieris has...

 • Mt. Fuji cherry tree...

SJG 4/18/11 - Mt. Fuji cherry
The tree was ceremoniously planted only last fall and it already has glorious blossoms this spring!  The ceremonious part was on the account of the tree being 'a propagation of the one planted by Japanese Crown Prince Akihito in 1960', as the plaque underneath reads;  the ceremony involved the Japanese ambassador and a shinto priest, I believe. I hope somebody takes the time and answers my burning question as to how one propagates a tree that has been dead for several years, at least - it's been dead since I became a docent some 7 or 8 years ago.
SJG 4/18/11 • Mt. Fuji cherry
blossoms up-close

During that time I really enjoyed tantalizing the first-graders by showing them the European birch tree planted at the same time by princess Michiko, while informing them that prince's tree fell due to the excess of snow a while ago;  the story usually produces an excited question from a young mind: 'SO, did you tell the prince?!'  Nope, not really, then prince is now an Emperor of Japan and who would like to write this message: DEAR EMPEROR, YOUR TREE IS DEAD!  The kids pause and sometimes nod - you can tell they are pondering the dilemma between spilling the beans and being polite... I hope the answer about propagating a has-been tree will provide me with a new way to torment the young minds!

Bunch of New Yorkers - SJG 4/18/11
• The New Yorkers.  They were a real cheery, outgoing crowd of teachers from The Bank Street College of Education in NYC:  funny, engaging and curious group to lead around the Garden.  And I forgot how extrovert the east coast city dwellers are, too: at some point I was snapping the pic of a blooming apple tree and a part  of the group made it into the frame. I turned around and jokingly asked:  are you ready to have your pic taken for the blog, for the whole world to see?  Not only they didn't shy from a camera, they lined up and proudly produced a shopping bag with the name of the school to front them! :)  HI, New Yorkers from The Bank Street School!  Hope you made it safely home and please, come and see us again!

P.S.  4/24/11 - Added (pieris?/enkianthus?) pic above and now consulted the newest edition of the Plant Book (previously looked into the 2008 version) - that area has 5 pieris japonica and 1 enkianthus:  now I tend to think this is pieris, but PAGING KATHY L.

P.P.S.  4/25/11 - Kathy L. wrote: 'It is Pieris as the Enkianthus are not in bloom yet'...  Well, that settles it, doesn't it?  Thank you, Kathy!

鳶が鷹を産む。 •  Tonbi(or Tobi) ga taka o umu. • Literally: A kite breeding a hawk. • Meaning: A splendid child born from common parents.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Other Gardens: UW campus cherry blossoms - Sakura Saku

Flowering cherry in Japanese: sakura
by aleks
(Click on the pics to see larger versions)

UW Yoshino Cherry grove
Technically not a garden, but a grove of 30 mature Yoshino cherry trees over at the quad area of the UW campus; they are a tourist attraction in themselves when they bloom for about 2 weeks every spring.  They are a bit late this cold, wintry  year, as everything else seems to be - I found pictures of them on the web from last year dated march 27th (look at the date above: April 16th).

Whenever they bloom, they are a total show-stopper:   transplanted from the Seattle Arboretum 45 years ago when a freeway project threatened them, they now live happily here, at UW campus, and  'snow' delicate pink petals with a smallest stir of wind - an absolute magic to see. Today I came upon two young women meeting under a  blooming tree - one was approaching the other with an open box full of cupcakes when the wind blew and petals snowed on them:  the students happily laughed and one of them exclaimed: 'Oh, now the cherry blossoms everywhere!'...

'Snow' of the cherry petals • UW 4/16/11
• The story of cherry trees at UW:
[...] Students who walked through the Quad during spring can tick an item off their to-do list: seeing one of the world’s wonders. The Yoshino cherry tree (Prunus x yedoensis) should indeed be counted among such beauties as the pyramids and the Great Wall of China.

Yoshino is originally native to Japan’s natural landscape. It is a natural hybrid, first described in 1870 as a small deciduous tree growing up to 12 meters tall. It produces small cherries that are an important food source for many birds and mammals. The life expectancy of a Yoshino cherry tree is 60 to 100 years. [...]
From 'Campus trees a living history', UW's paper article - more here....

'What a strange thing! / to be alive / beneath Cherry blossoms!'
Kobayashi Issa (can't find Japanese original - Keiko, help!)

• Video: Cherry blossoms in full bloom on UW Seattle campus:
It’s a cruel joke. Cherry blossoms are at their peak over spring break when students have fled the campus for vacations and a little off-campus reprieve between winter and spring quarters.
Go to this UW link to see an amazing video of cherries in bloom in 2010 - more here...

Yoshino cherry blossoms • UW 4/17/11
* * *
And if you missed the cherry blossom show at UW come to Seattle Japanese Garden: it  is located in a lowest part of Arboretum, with temps about 10 degrees lower than the rest of the city, so cherry blossoms in the orchard part come there later yet, about a week or two after the city trees. You will be stirred by their beauty.


yûzakura oni no namida kakarubeshi

evening cherry blossoms--
the devil is moved
to tears

Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1827), translated by David G. Lanoue

• Links to Hanami stories/pics:
- Human Flower Project: Under the cherry blossoms - Masashi Yamaguchi offers an introduction to Japan’s lush cherry blossom customs.
- Sakura and the Japanese mind - article by Shigeru Awagi, born in 1926, in Miyazaki-ken, Japan.
– Japanese Culture–Cherry Blossom Season Hanami - article from SE Asia History
- Special Project:  How Seattle's Cherry Blossoms Made a Journey into Space - from Consulate-General  of Japan in Seattle
- History of the Cherry trees in US -  National Park Service page
- Visit Seattle Japanese Garden Flicr group: I'm sure there will be great hanami pics there as soon as bloom in SJG.

• Locations for great Hanami in Seattle: Lake Washington Boulevard, The Seattle Center, the Arboretum, the Japanese Garden, the University of Washington, Seward Park, Woodland Park, and the Seattle Buddhist Church Wysteria Plaza.  ADD YOURS!

十人十色 (jūnin toiro) Literally: ten men, ten colors 
Meaning: To each his/her own. / Different strokes for different folks.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Recommendation: 'Shadows of a Fleeting World' exhibit (Henry Art)

by Nat  S.

If you’re a Garden docent looking over the list of “Participating Reciprocal Admissions Organizations” for National Volunteer Week, which started yesterday, or to anyone reading this:

I would highly recommend going to Henry Art Gallery to see the exhibit “Shadows of a Fleeting World: Pictorial Photography and Seattle Camera Club”. (It ends May 8th; general website:  www.henryart.org)

I’d wanted to see this exhibit since first hearing about it several months ago.  What would a group of photographers in the early 20th century choose to capture on film here, what influenced their aesthetic choices, etc.?   Like several of you, I take photographs, and I always find it fascinating to see what others choose to pull into a frame, what moments become suspended in time.

These 100+ photographic images are rich, painterly, contemplative compositions (ah, those gelatin silver prints!), with influences from both the East and West.  Most of the works are by Japanese and Japanese-American photographers of the Seattle Camera Club.

Among the photographers whose works you’ll see are Dr. Kyo Koike, Frank Kunishige, Iwao Matsushita, Ella McBride, Virna Haffler, Miss Y. Inagi, Hideo Onishi, Soichi Sunami, Yasuzo Nojima and Yukio Morinaga.  (The club included women---unusual for the times.  Look for the female photographer whose work only survives as 2 prints in a book of photography displayed in a case at the exhibit.)

I’m grateful that these photographs are preserved for us to experience. Taking time to view them recalibrates the eye, and deepens the moments that I'm behind a lens.

P.S. 4/12 from aleks: Today it's a 50th anniversary of the first human being to journey into outer space: on April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin in his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth. Here, courtesy of NASA, a little music gift  complementing the spirit of Nat's post about our fleeting world:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Seen In The Garden Today: The Turtles Were Out!

SJG  4/9/11/Lynnda • Turtles on Parade
by Lynnda

Yesterday, I shadowed an experienced guide and it was a great tour. Since this is the start of my second year, and with the long winter break, I thought it would be good to do a few shadow tours before I jumped into leading one. I thought we would be rained upon, but not a drop in sight! The parking lot was full so I parked on Madison and walked to the Garden.

Everyone was out and enjoying the arrival of spring in Seattle. Especially the turtles! I've never seen so many out on rocks. It wasn't especially sunny - were they trying to get into warmer air rather than the cooler water? Because they infrequently move once on the rocks, the people on this tour thought they were all fake! Finally, one of the turtles, ever so slowly, moved its head.

SJG 4/9/11/Lynnda • Bottoms up
Ducks were also in abundance. They were doing a lot of bottom feeding, so were only partially visible.

In addition to the ducks and turtles, I saw an American bullfrog nestled in the new shoots of iris. His (her) skin was so iridescent that it looked like a porcelain sculpture. I've never seen a frog in this garden, so that was a highlight of the tour.

SJG 4/9/11/Lynnda • American Bullfrog
There were many buds, all varieties, throughout the Garden, and they will be blossoming in coming weeks. The air was fragrant with the smells of spring. This is the time of year when a Garden visit every week highlights new colors, new fragrances, only to be replaced the following week with more splendor.
4/14/11 • P.S. from aleks:  I started collating contributions to this theme in the right-side bar, under the heading Seen in The Garden Today - they are listed by date/topic for easy reference throughout the year: click on the one you want to re-visit to get there without scrolling...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hana Matsuri

Photo by Cole Barager
by rpacht
Happy birthday Buddha

(Click on the photographer's name to go to his site)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Charity Bazaar for Japan Disaster Relief

by Keiko P.

I received a notice of four Japanese community groups co-hosting a charity bazaar for Japan disaster relief. They are trust worthy groups as I know many of these people personally.
Saturday, April 16th, 10AM to 3:00PM
At Meadowbrook Church in Redmond
17944 NE 65th Street, Redmond, WA 98073

They would like to have many participants for their “treasures,” baked goods, and rice ball sale. Your donations of some precious items are also welcome. Please contact Kaori at 425-883-1703 or kyoshida112308@yahoo.com 

All proceed will be donated to help the victims of Japan Earthquake of 2011.  

Click on the graphic above to enlarge it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Seen in the Garden Today: Osmanthus and few other things

Osmanthus in Japanese: mokusei
Maple in Japanese: kaede/momiji
Wisteria in Japanes: fuji
Wood anemone in Japanese: anemone

by Nat S. (text + post idea) and aleks (pics + captions)

Not many of us guides get to the Garden often enough to see the many seasonal changes, great and small.  We can enjoy a regular glimpse, though, if we serve as one another's eyes.

It would be fun if guides would comment in a post about something they see, and on or near the day of their Garden visit.  Having this log would make us readers feel as if we're there.  And such a chronicle can further our knowledge about the Garden.  Too, it could prompt a visit!

The post could be about a plant that's in bud, in bloom, in seed, fragrant, leafing-out, fruiting, changing color, dropping leaves, recently pruned or similarly maintained, etc.  And not just about those plants that stand out, but less conspicuous ones, too, like meadow rue.
Or, maybe it's the fauna you notice that day.  Or the way the pond appears, or how the waterfall or stream looks or sounds.

By the way, if you have your camera along, a snapshot would be great to include with your post. 
Nat S.
(Click on the pics to enlarge them)
SJG 4/3/11 - Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Illiifolius' - blooming by the East Gate

Osmanthus flowers
Blooming in early spring, Osmanthus usually waffles delightful sweet scent into the air - today it's too cold and I had to literally press my nose into the flower to detect its fragrance.

There are quite a few Osmanthus shrubs in the Garden (most of them not shaped into a ball like the one in the pic above) - walking on the East Path on a warm day you will have no trouble to identify them while they are in bloom - the whole section alongside the pond is nothing but a perfume orgy.

SJG 4/3/11 - At this time of  the year Lace Leaf Maple (Acer Palmatum 'Burgundy Lace') near the South entrance shows off its magnificent trunk, normally hidden under canopy of attention grabbing leaves that change color from burgundy to smoky orange

SJG 4/3/11 • Faux bloom or hilarious  shakkei (borrowed scenery):  wisteria trellis  not happy about its April nakedness?  Why not grab some showy sight from the Arboretum across the street - this view from the West Path is quite foolling one's senses:  
peeps r so dum - my new haircut, doncha know? :)

SJG 3/3/11 • Wood Anemone (Anemone memorosa) under the camellia tree on the northern mountain path

SJG 4/3/11 • Wood Anemone flower
I always look forward to say HI to these short-time Garden visitors: after their dainty blue flowers are done, the anemone plants perform quite magical act of disappearing: leaves and all -   nothing left on the ground  to remind onlookers about their early spring visit.  And HI,  Kathy L. over at the Plant Group (where I m a fairly accidental member) - two years ago I didn't know most of those plants names -  thank you for teaching me! aleks.

P.S. Follow this blog by Email - Have you noticed this new feature (top left under the Garden Events headline)?   3-easy steps (to protect you from spam) subscription process will free you  from having to type URL to find us:  the new content will be delivered to your inbox, with a link to the blog. P.P.s. The thing is slow - just tested it; you will get an update about 24 hrs after the content is published, but who is in rush here?

4/14/11 • P.S. from aleks:  I started collating contributions to this theme in the right-side bar, under the heading Seen in The Garden Today - they are listed by date/topic for easy reference throughout the year: click on the one you want to re-visit to get there without scrolling...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Epicenter Japan: Local Crises, Global Impacts

by Keiko P
Panel Discussion at UW
Wednesday April 6, 2011. 7 PM
120 Kane Hall, Seattle Campus

UW faculty and scholars will have an open-to-public discussion on the multiple disasters now facing Japan. They assess the impacts to Japan as  well as the world since March 11 and look at what lies ahead. Panelists are:

Kenneth B. Pyle, Henry M. Jackson Professor of History and Asian Studies - Japan’s postwar history and nuclear context
Marie Anchordoguy, Professor of East Asian Studies - Business and Economics of Japan
Ken Tadashi Oshima, Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture – Japanese architecture and earthquakes
Andrea Arai, Lecturer - Japanese culture, media and demographics
Roger Raman, Principal Research Scientist Aeronautics and Astronautics - Nuclear Engineering
Gary Hamilton, UW Japan Program Interim Chair and Professor, International Studies and Sociology - Moderator

I wish I could go but I  will be out of town for a conference on 4/6. This event is sponsored by the UW Japan Studies Program and East Asia Center.
For more information, contact japan@uw.edu or (206) 685.9997.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Scientifically Trained Long-time Garden Guide Looks at Koi

by rpacht
[This post is a response to the koi lecture notes from 3/21 post]

Common carp
Origins:  Koi are NOT mutant Indonesian river carp. Systematics: Koi are common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and belong to the “minnow family” family cyprinidae the largest family of fishes with over 2000 species with “primitive” body designs.  Most are small and believed to have originally evolved in Southeast Asia.  Carp are thought to have originated in Western Asia (Caucasus area).  Because of their fast growth and desirability as food fish, they were transported nearly everywhere in Eurasia quickly.

Carp have great value as aquaculture animals in that they grow very quickly, tolerate a wide range of conditions (temperature, salinity, oxygen concentration) and food sources.  Koi live 20-30 years on average and can attain about 50 % of maximum size in the first two years.

Cyprinus carpio vs carassius auratus:  Koi are not a unique species nor are they the same as “goldfish” (carassius auratus) they are not even in the same genus.  They share the same family so are cousins if you will.  Goldfish share lineage with “Crucian Carp” (Carassius carassius) that has been raised as a food fish in China for more than 2000 years.

Koi barbells
To those who are interested, there is a really easy way to differentiate carp from goldfish, which are selected for many of the same characteristics and can be easily confused.  Koi have barbells around the mouth goldfish do not.  These are not “feelers” but olfactory sensors.  These are to aid the fish in finding food on/in the bottom substrate as they are benthic feeders.

One look at a koi’s sub-terminal mouth would tell one intuitively that they do not feed standing on their tails in the water column as the speaker indicates.   The guides went on a garden visit over in Kirkland a couple of years ago and the owner of a spectacular koi pond and grotto tried to sell this same foolishness.  Either it was the same lady or there is some general misconception about this.  If the fish are standing on their tails to feed it is because they have been trained to do so.

Koi breeding is not an area of expertise for me but when asked to talk to the guide classes on several occasions I did some research on the history of it, which I will present here:

First record of carp in Japan about 200 AD kept by emperor.  They were brought from China.  A red mutant was discovered in Japan not Indonesia. In the 1820s in Niigata prefecture in rice irrigation ponds koi breeding and selection began. In 1800s in Europe scale mutations appeared, were selected by German monks and came to Japan in the 20th century. In the early 19th century color mutations that appeared were selected and bred and by the late 19th century color patterns were fixed to an extent.

In 1914 some of the most beautiful varieties were displayed at an exposition in Tokyo and some were presented to crown prince Hirohito. Until 20th century breeding was confined to the Niigati region.  Many color and scale variations have been developed mostly but not exclusively in Japan.  There are over 100 named varieties today.

The myth of a 200+ year old carp is exactly that, a myth.  Jesse brought to my attention a New York Times article about such a fish and I did a bit of research on the report.  There is no otolith data or even scale data to support such a claim.

In fairness I should note the handful of truths in Anon’s notes.  Females do grow larger than males, which is true of most fishes and biological organisms in general. A meter in length for a maximum is about right and about 10kg or so.
The photos for this post came from the following websites:
•  U of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
•  Keep Koi
•  Fish Index