Lantana is starting to bloom all at once. This flower is undoubtedly a subject of the wanted worldwide. It has been designated as one of the top 100 invasive alien species in the world. Especially in tropical to subtropical climates, if not properly managed, it spreads everywhere through self-seeding, and in such climates, it is avoided as a “flower that should not be planted.” In temperate climates like Japan, where there are cold seasons, it withers in autumn, so it is not as serious an invasive species as in tropical regions, and it is even planted in gardens as an ornamental plant. Indeed, Lantana has recently become conspicuous. Even with a little soil, it spontaneously blooms alongside roadsides and stone walls. Lantana produces side shoots one after another from early summer to autumn and grows horizontally. Gradually, the flowers bloom, with numerous small flowers of about 1mm square crowded together in one place. As it continues to bloom, you can enjoy not only a single color but also a gradation of colors. That’s why it is called “Shichihenge” in Japanese, meaning “seven transformations.
Queen Elizabeth,” a magnificent flower with a serene flower path of 12cm, blooms with large blossoms befitting a queen. This renowned flower was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, who ascended the throne in 1952. “Queen Elizabeth” was created in 1954 by Dr. Walter Lemmerts, a genetics professor at the University of California. Last year, Queen Elizabeth, after a reign of 70 years, passed away at the age of 96. This year, Queen Elizabeth seems lonely. “Queen Elizabeth” achieved the prestigious status of being inducted into the Hall of Fame at the World Rose Convention held in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1979. The roses inducted into the Hall of Fame are considered “beloved flowers around the world” and are selected by the World Federation of Rose Societies, which consists of 37 countries. They represent the beauty chosen based on their ease of cultivation in any environment and their universal aesthetic appeal. Since the selection of “Peace” in 1976, a total of 18 varieties have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, with the most recent being “Flower Carpet Rose Pink” in 2022. The stage for the 20th World Rose Convention, which will take place in 2025, will be set in Japan, specifically in Hiroshima Prefecture, where the Fukuyama Convention is scheduled to be held.
悠々とした花径12cmの、花の女王らしい大輪の花を咲かせる「クイーン・エリザベス」。1952年に女王となったイギリスのエリザベス女王の戴冠にちなんで命名された名花です。「クイーン・エリザベス」は1954年にカリフォルニア大学の遺伝学の教授Dr. Walter Lemmertsが作り出しました。そのエリザベス女王は昨年、在位70年を経て96歳の生涯を閉じました。今年のクイーン・エリザベスは寂しそうに見えます。 「クイーンエリザベス」は、1979年に南アフリカのプレトリアで開催された世界バラ会議で殿堂入りを果たしています。殿堂入りのバラとは、世界37か国からなる世界バラ会連合が、3年に1回開催する世界バラ会議において選出する「世界中で愛されている名花」です。世界中のどの環境でも育てやすく普遍的な美意識から選ばれた美しさを持つ、栄誉あるバラたちです。1976年に「ピース」が選出されてから、2022年の「フラワーカーペット ローズ ピンク」まで、今までに18品種が殿堂入りしています。 次回2025年に行われる第20回世界バラ会議の舞台は、日本。広島県にて福山大会が行われる予定です。
The seasonal word for strawberries is early summer. This refers to the time until the 1960s when the prevailing notion was that strawberries were in season from spring to early summer. It was a time when outdoor cultivation of strawberries was dominant. Subsequently, the use of artificial methods such as greenhouse cultivation became popular, creating a spring-like environment to promote early growth. This enabled strawberries to be harvested from around November to December. This technique was developed to meet the increasing demand for strawberries during the Christmas season and to produce high-quality strawberries during the winter period. As a result, now we can enjoy delicious strawberries for a long period of time, and it can be said that the peak season for strawberries is from winter to early summer. The term “strawberries ” is no longer applicable as a seasonal word for early summer. Western strawberries are said to have been introduced to Japan in the late Edo period, around the 1830s. Since they were brought by Dutch ships, they were called “Oranda Ichigo” (Dutch strawberries) at that time. As agriculture modernized during the Meiji period, various seeds and seedlings from Europe and the United States were introduced, and commercial cultivation using foreign varieties began around 1900. It is said that there are approximately 30 varieties of strawberries available in the market currently, but the number of registered varieties is about 150, and there are about 30 varieties in the process of registration application and disclosure.
There is a place I always want to visit around this time of year. It’s a small marsh in the nearby mountains, where I can meet Kawataro-kun, a kappa who spends his days fishing. I first met Kawataro-kun at the banks of Kappa Bridge in Kamikochi. He was abducted by a kappa who had settled in the Azusa River and was forced to live in a completely different world from the human realm, a world that was the opposite of everything he knew. In the kappa world, romance is driven by the females, and they find amusement in things that humans consider serious, while taking seriously things that humans find amusing—it’s a completely upside-down world. At first, it was not boring due to the novelty, but eventually, he started to long for the human world. Finally, he managed to escape the kappa world with great difficulty, only to find himself confined to Room 23 of a psychiatric ward. There, his companion was Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Akutagawa also passed away, and eventually, Kawataro-kun settled near this marsh, living a life immersed in fishing all day long.
This afternoon, the weather is clear and sunny as if yesterday’s heavy rain was just a lie. The trees along the streets, now lush with leaves, are vibrant and full of life. The lilies, blooming in various colors as seen in the photo, are also thriving. However, I was shocked by yesterday’s heavy rain. The smartphone alerts kept ringing incessantly. It was my first experience with such a thing. Even while watching TV, the term “linear rain band” keeps appearing frequently. This word seems to have started being used recently. Although the word itself seems to have already existed as a meteorological term, it appears that it became commonly used in Japan after the Hiroshima landslides caused by heavy rain in August 2014, during the 26th year of the Heisei era. According to the analysis by the Meteorological Research Institute of the Japan Meteorological Agency, the frequency of “concentrated heavy rain” brought about by phenomena such as the “linear rain band” has increased by about twice over the past 45 years. Especially during the rainy season, it is said to be approaching four times the previous frequency. The main cause seems to be global warming after all.
Stokesia blooms from early summer to summer, and its cool-looking flowers leave a lasting impression. The flower is associated with the meaning of “pure and modest maiden” due to its appearance. It continues to bloom from around June to October and is highly valued during the period when there are few flowers in midsummer, as it is very robust and can bloom well even in partial shade. Due to its flower color, it harmonizes well with both Japanese and Western styles, making it popular as a purple-themed cut flower in summer and also beloved as a flower for flower beds. On the other hand, in Western culture, blue and purple are considered colors that symbolize “sadness,” hence it has the floral language of “remembrance.” As it is also called ‘Ruri-giku’ in Japanese, there was a lot of interest in the azure-colored Yaguruma-giku flower-like flower. Stokesia is a hardy perennial native to the southeastern United States and was introduced to Japan in the 1910s. It is a rare flower with only one species in its genus and without any closely related species.
The entrance of the apartment building is filled with a profusion of rose flowers. It’s truly amazing. It instantly brightens up the mood. This sensation is not just my personal feeling, but rather something imprinted in the DNA of humanity as a connection between flowers and humans. In the 1960s, in the Shanidar Cave in Iran, several types of pollen, including Saw-wort and Oxeye Daisy, were discovered in large quantities along with the fossils of Neanderthals who lived during the Paleolithic period approximately 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. The discovery sparked discussions. Dr. R.S. Solecki, the American archaeologist who made the discovery, suggested the theory that Neanderthals had a sense of mourning for the deceased and had the custom of burying them with flowers as grave goods. One clear example of floral tributes adorning a cemetery is the cave cemetery in Mount Carmel in northern Israel, dating back approximately 12,000 years. Fragrant herbs such as mint and sage, after returning to the soil, left their traces engraved in the soft mud. By offering flowers as a tribute to the deceased, which is the greatest sorrow for humans, they found solace and we do so.
The Kuchinashi (Gardenia) that blooms at the beginning of the rainy season has an unparalleled whiteness. As the rainy season progresses, it turns cream-colored and eventually wilts, resembling the color of custard cream. The leaves undergo the same transformation. They start off as young leaf green and gradually change to deep green. The original Kuchinashi is a large plant that produces pure white six-petaled flowers with a strong fragrance, and in autumn, it bears orange-red fruits. The photo shows a variety called “Ooyaekuchinashi,” which is more popular and has double flowers but does not produce fruits. The delightful fragrance is one of the great charms of the Kuchinashi. The three trees, Kuchinashi, Kinmokusei (Fragrant Olive), and Jinchoge (Mock Orange), are sometimes referred to as the “Three Major Fragrant Trees.” Particularly during their blooming season, you can enjoy their sweet scent. While the Kuchinashi is originally from Asia, it was introduced to Europe in the 19th century, where the fragrant white flowers became popular and used as a raw material for perfumes. Additionally, it is used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as in dyes and food coloring. In Fujieda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, there is a yellow-colored rice dish called “Seto no Some-meshi” that has been sold since the Sengoku period. It is also colored using Gardenia. Eating this rice ball instantly relieves the fatigue of a long journey on the Tokaido road. Most likely, both Yaji-san and Kita-san have also eaten it.
The Japan Meteorological Agency announced yesterday, May 29th, that the northern part of Kyushu to the Tokai region is expected to have entered the rainy season. The rainy season arrived six days earlier than the average year in northern Kyushu, seven days earlier in Shikoku, and eight days earlier in the Chugoku, Kinki, and Tokai regions. The rainy season in May is the first in 10 years for the Tokai and Kinki regions, marking the beginning of a season of prolonged rain this year as well. Under the cloudy sky, on days when occasional sunshine breaks through, two dandelions with their cotton-like seeds are seen side by side, enjoying each other’s company. They close up when it rains, but open up when the sun shines. Dandelions, which adorned the spring, must scatter their seeds before the rainy season to leave behind the next generation. It is the activity of all living things. Occasionally, a breeze blows and carries away one or two cotton-like seeds. When I gently blow on them, numerous seeds flew away. I wonder if the dandelions were pleased. Perhaps I meddled unnecessarily.
The name “Utsugi” means “hollow tree” and is given due to its characteristic hollow trunk. It is said that the month in which Utsugi flowers bloom became known as “Uzuki” in the lunar calendar. By the way, the origin of the name “Uzuki” comes from the term “嫵之花 (Bu no Hana),” which means “a tree with beautiful flowers.” The name “Uno-hana” for tofu lees (okara) is also derived from the resemblance of its appearance to the white blossoms of Utsugi. The famous poem “Natsu wa Kinu (the spring comes)” also describes Uzuki flowers as pure white, which is the typical color for these flowers. There are various claims about the number of Uzuki flower species, ranging from 7 to 12, but the Uzuki flower in the photo is a type of Utsugi called Sarasa Utsugi. It is a double-flowered variety with white on the inside and reddish-purple on the outside. “Sarasa” refers to a colorful, patterned cotton cloth originating from India. Due to its hard material, Utsugi wood is used for nails in chests and small boxes, as well as for barrel spouts and flutes.