Tokyo, Japan

Horikiri Iris Garden, Tokyo, Japan, June 1926, by Roger Dumas, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine (all photos here).

Horikiri Shobuen is one of the oldest iris gardens in Japan. It was probably created by a local flower farmer, Kodaka Izaemo, in the late 17th century. By the early 19th century, it had become a popular destination for sightseers during the Hanashōbu or Iris ensata bloom-time in early June.

In 1900, there were five iris gardens in the swampy land of Tokyo’s Horikiri district — all producing bulbs for export to Europe and the U.S. However, demand was declining by the time these pictures were taken, and the area’s last two iris gardens converted to vegetable plots during World War II.

In 1960, the site of the Kodaka iris garden was replanted and opened to the public. Today, its 6,000 iris plants — from 200 cultivars — are the focus of an Iris Festival held every year from May 30 to June 18.

The autochromes above are four of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker and pacifist, between 1909 and 1931. Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to fifty countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.'”* The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.


*words of Albert Kahn, 1912. Also, the above photos (A 55 771 S, A 55 776 S, A 55 775, A 55 772 X) are © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

August Spielhaus garden

I want to bring you a little late summer update on this garden.

1a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
The garden and a corner of the 18th century Spielhaus through Deschampsia cespitosa grass.

I started out in March meaning to track the flowers of the Spielhaus (playhouse) perennial garden at the University of Hohenheim for this year’s GB Bloom Days. However, travel, gloomy weather, and hurting feet have interfered, and I haven’t posted an update since May.

4a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
I did pay a visit this week, however, on Tuesday evening, and there was lots of color.

Above, American Rudbeckia hirta or Black-eyed Susans draw the eye, paired with a red cultivar of Ricinus communes, and Coreopsis on the other side of the path.

The obelisk in the background memorializes Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg and Franziska von Hohenheim. They built Hohenheim Palace (now a  University building) and the English landscape-style garden/arboretum around it (now the University’s botanical garden).

Franziska was first the king’s mistress, then his morganatic wife.  The main palace building was barely finished when he died.  The family then pressured her into giving up Hohenheim for another estate.

26a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above: the Rudbeckia and white Oenothera lindheimeri (gaura).

29a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
This pink phlox has a beautiful scent, but it has grown up over its label, so I can’t tell you the variety.

32a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above: with the red caster bean plant behind it.

9a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
The garden is roughly a rectangle with a bit of slope, set in front of the Spielhaus terrace. Narrow stone paths run through it lengthwise.

I don’t have the name of the species of the Panicum grass on the left above. The smoke bush on the right of the path is Cotinus coggygria ‘Young Lady’.

7a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above: tree peonies on the left, Agapanthus on the right.

11a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure

Above: the center area.

I particularly like the garden’s layout. And the display of plants is very popular with the neighborhood.  It’s rare that I get it almost to myself.

17a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above and below: heleniums in front of the terrace — unfortunately, the label was hidden.

16a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure

22a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above and the two photos below: looking across the garden from the Spielhaus terrace — left to right. (That’s another — taller and fuller — pink phlox on the left.)

21a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure

23a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure

25a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above: Just beyond the Spielhaus area, the trees, pond (left), and lawn of Carl Eugen’s and Franziska’s landscape garden.

Throughout this summer, the University has opened one room inside the Speilhaus on weekend afternoons.  If you click on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any of the thumbnail images, you can see some snapshots that I took in late July.  The room holds a scale model of the palace grounds in Carl Eugen’s time, when there were about 60 folly-type buildings.  Today, only the Spielhaus and one other remain.

Continue reading “August Spielhaus garden”

The palace garden, Venice

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A variation on the same theme. . . in Venice, at Christmas, our hotel also had an unusually large garden.

The Boscolo Venezia was built in the 16th century as a family palace.  It  is located in the Sestiere Cannaregio, between the Fondamenta de la Madonna dell’Orto and the lagoon, facing the island of Murano.

It claims to be the only hotel in Venice with a garden over 2,000 square meters.

Long and fairly narrow with winding paths of light grey pea gravel, the garden is heavily planted in trees and large, dark-leaved shrubs (and variegated Aucuba japonica). Berms down the sides and crossing the middle increase the sense of privacy, restrict a sense of the whole, and make the garden seem larger.

Click on any thumbnail in the gallery below to scroll through larger images.

Vintage landscape: boxwood path

Rose HillRose Hill, Yanceyville, North Carolina, 1938, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Rose Hill, Library of Congress

I like to imagine that front door as yellow.

The house still stands and continues to be owned by the Brown family, who built it in 1800.

You can view larger versions of these photos by clicking on ‘Continue reading’ and then on either thumbnail in the gallery.

Nothing moves in boxwood
where gray soldiers lie.

Dave Smith, from “Winesaps

Vintage landscape: rocky road

Dry stream bed, via Library of Congress “Road to Nicholson Hollow. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia,” October 1935, by Arthur Rothstein, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

I think this would be a good reference picture for making a dry stream bed path through a naturalistic garden (click to enlarge).

More on Nicholson Hollow this Sunday. . . .

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
che la diritta via era smarrita

The Divine Comedy – Pt. 1 Inferno – Canto 1 – (1-3)

13. In the middle of the journey
of our life
I came to myself
In a dark forest
The straightforward way
Misplaced.
(Schwerner, 2000)

Caroline Bergvall, from “VIA” (48 Dante Variations)