Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Black Mondo Grass + butoh 8/10

by aleks
It's not even a grass, and I had no idea it can bloom. Depending whom you ask it is a black lilyturf in the family Asparagaceae, once classified as being in the Liriope family until the plant name gods realized they are actually lilies that are closely related to the Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) and gave them the designation of Ophiopogon.

Anyway, I spotted them blooming in the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island last weekend - dainty, bell-shaped lavender blossoms. I didn't have my camera but thought not to worry - they'll be waiting form me the next day in SJG. When I asked Mary about them she waived her hand, in kind of 'last year's news' fashion: oh, she saw them blooming a week ago or so, prolly well over now... :(

SJG • 7/29/13 – Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nigrescens’ • Black Mondo Grass
growing in clumps in Area A (courtyard at the Garden entrance)

It made me run to the courtyard and look:  ooops, except for a few single stalks they were all GONE, GONE, GONE! My sorry pics of the event above and below...  They are advertised to grow well in sunny areas, but in fact thrive in partial shade and last there longer: Bloedel Reserve has them in semi-shade, SJG has them on sunny berm in the area A.

SJG • 7/29/13 – Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nigrescens’ • Black Mondo Grass
growing in clumps in Area A (courtyard at the Garden entrance) – FLOWERS

Bye, bye - black mondo grass flowers. Lynnda says her daughter grows them in shady area of her garden and they are not even blooming in her yard yet  - so forward look to our photo-cheating and lying soon, when she gets a better photo than the one above.

• • • 
Butoh reminder: Joan's Kogut-butoh group will give us an annual Wandering and Wondering butoh performance on Saturday, August 10, 2013  2-5 pm, in Seattle Japanese Garden.

bonus pic from 7/29/13 - from ferry Bainbridge-Seattle,
where i thought to post about SJG's mondo grass

Saturday, July 13, 2013


by Lynnda

A few days ago, I took some friends from out of town on a tour of the Seattle Japanese Garden.  I was surprised by the sign at the entrance, warning visitors that a mama raccoon and 3 babies have been strolling in the garden.  It asked that, if you see the raccoons, retreat and don't annoy them.  As much as I wanted to not encounter them, I tried to subtly look behind bushes, but I didn't see them!

The day was delightful, cloudy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon when we were strolling through the garden.  This time of year, the garden displays so many shades of green.  The vibrant spring blooms are mostly memories and the autumn golds, oranges and browns are still weeks away.

Mama and babies, SJG  Photo by Lynnda
As we were watching brilliantly orange koi lazily swimming near the wisteria, we noticed a family of ducks, a female and 4 very new babies.  They were swimming around the lily pads, and pop!, the ducklings weren't large enough to swim through the pads, and instead, hopped up and waddled quickly over and on to the next open patch of water. They were so quick that I couldn't catch it on film. 

As the ducks continued along the eastern shore, one stopped to explore something near a large rock.  Mama turned her head and scolded the dawdler.  The tiny duckling understood what Mama was saying, and he took off so quickly that he passed the family at full throttle.  His speed and the way he propelled himself in the water reminded me of cartoons of the Road Runner, dust flying behind him.  Instead of dust, a spray of water followed this tiny one.

Under the dobashi    Photo by Lynnda

The family scooted under the bridge and continued their journey south.  Near the rocky peninsula, Mama began her bottoms up, in search of food.  Or maybe, she was teaching the ducklings that it was the proper way to fish.  A few of the ducklings tried to imitate Mama and their attempts were quite humorous.

Add Lunch time   Photo by Lynnda

As we strolled past the ginko trees and looked back for a last duck sighting, the family was heading north and Mama was ever alert keeping her very energetic ducklings close by. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tanabata & Upcoming: Japanese Garden Party and butoh dancing

SJG • 7/7/13 - Decorating bamboo branches.  Photo by Aurora Santiago
by aleks
Tanabata's origin dates back to more than 2,000 years old Chinese tale, which is told in different variations in several Asian countries:  once there was a weaver princess named Orihime and a cow herder prince named Hikobosh  (represented by the stars Vega and Altair ) - thy married and were so much in love that they neglected their jobs, which  brought the wrath of Orihime's father.  He was very angry at them and separated them on opposite sides of the Amanogawa River (Milky Way),  only allowing them to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. Tanabata literally means the night of the seventh and we did celebrate it on 7/7 this year.

SJG • 7/7/13 - Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo of  Eth-Noh-Tec tells the Tanabata story.
 Photo by Aurora Santiago

This year our events coordinator, Rachel Harris, invited master storyteller Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo of San Francisco based Eth-Noh-Tec, who delighted the audience with folktales form Japan, including the story of Tanabata.  I hope Robert returns often to our Garden - his performance came complete with music and dance, in an interactive format that encouraged the audience to participate vocally and with gestures - he had both kids and adults supplying him with cue words and sounds he asked for, as well as performing kinetic dance of hands to illustrate different parts of the story - I dropped my camera too many times in my lap, eager to be kid again and wave my hands, too.

Fortunately Aurora Santiago was there with her big camera  - the rest of her Tanabata 2013 are on flicr here (her other pictures of SJG are hanging in Tateuchi Community Room, along other winning pictures taken by SJG photo workshop attendees this spring).

SJG • 7/7/13 - Tanabata celebrations.  Photo by Aurora Santiago

Tanabata activities also included 'Experience the solar System' with Pacific Science Center's Starlab Planetarium, Origami folding with P.A.P.E.R (Puget Area Paperfolding Enthusiasts Roundtable) and Japanese Garden volunteers,  hands-on Japanese calligraphy with Meito Shodo Kai and decorating bamboo branches with hand-written poems, wishes and prayers.

SJG • 7/7/13 - All Those Born With Wings: music and dance inspired by the traditional
Japanese story The Crane Wife.  Photo by Aurora Santiago

Somewhere close to 4 pm, as I was strolling along the East path towards the gate, my guide's name-tag started to attract attention from a sudden flow of people,  rushing in quite purposeful manner and wishing to know where the dance performance area is....  Billed on the Program only as 'All Those Born With Wings: music and dance inspired by the traditional Japanese story The Crane Wife' (with no names attached),  was our own guide Joan Laage, with her Kogut- butoh ensemble (for their upcoming butoh performance see info below)


4th Annual Japanese Garden Party is Friday, July 26 • 5:30 pm. Tickets available at www.brownpapertickets.com.  If you are not able to attend but would like to donate, please go to www.arcseattle.org.   To view the full flyer go to google docs here....

• Joan's Kogut-butoh group will give us an annual Wandering and Wondering butoh performance 
 on Saturday, August 10, 2013  2-5 pm, in Seattle Japanese Garden. To view full flyer (description and names of musicians and performers) go to google docs here...

Post from Wandering & Wondering 2012 here.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


We need to do something for Mary and I don't mean signing a card and having tea and cookies.  We need to give our beloved den mother a proper send off.  Any ideas?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thoughts of a New SJG Guide

Posted by Cara I.

After the informative, intense training this spring, it was delightful to be declared a Unit 86 Seattle Japanese Garden docent. It was also stressful, because that meant actually leading tours was next – to help with that stressor, the members of the ‘Class of 2013’ were encouraged to meet with mentors and shadow veteran guides as we developed our own tours.

So, I talked a lot with my mentor and shadowed tours; like other novitiates, I also brought friends to the Garden and practiced explaining its elements, noting structures, and stopping at spots where those kind friends could enjoy the scenery. It was a pleasure as well to stroll through the Garden with a fellow new guide, a plant expert, who taught me more about its collection of flora.

As the azalea and rhododendron (which I learned belong to the same genus) started to blossom, filling the Garden with color, I realized it was time to ‘just do it’; since May, I’ve led two public tours, including one in which we were all surprised by a young man in the group who stopped us at the highest point of the Garden, faced his girlfriend, reached into his pocket…, pulled out a ring…, got down on one knee… and proposed to her! She accepted! The private tour groups I’ve guided have been of school children, and I had so much fun with them – I hope they had fun, too!!
Photo taken after a garden photography
presentation by David Cobb

I am continually grateful for the generosity of the employees at the SJG and senior guides, especially my very capable mentor, who so willingly offer ideas to help me develop tours. It’s now summer – a particularly green time in the Garden – and I am also enjoying other opportunities that being a Unit 86 volunteer brings, like making new friends, helping tend the garden, attending continuing education activities, and helping at special events such as the Tanabata event this Sunday.

Becoming a contributor to this blog is another opportunity I am already appreciating, and I look forward to posting entries from time to time, from my ‘new guide’ point of view!