Sunday, April 28, 2013

If you like flowers, this is the blog post for you...

I took advantage of yet another Cultural Adaptation tour the base offers, and we were once again led by our fearless tour guide, Akie. This trip was to Yamaguchi Flowerland, a park full of, you guessed it, flowers. And this time of year was the perfect time to go... nearly everything was in bloom.

The activity for the day was to make a "moss ball." I was picturing a hanging sphere covered with moss, but that is not what we ended up making. We actually took a small flowering plant, a dianthus for those with green thumbs out there, and covered the root ball in moss, tying it together with wrapped string. To keep the root ball moist, you set it in a plate of water every few days.

Me and my moss ball.
 After making our moss balls, we headed in to the restaurant on site, and they offered a special menu for "Golden Week," a week of Japanese national holdays that include the former emperor's birthday and Children's Day, where, like the Hina Doll Festival in March celebrates girls, May 5 celebrates the boys. The appetizers were all Japanese dishes, and I chose to follow the appetizers up with a margherita pizza.

After lunch, we headed out to the sunny gardens to enjoy all of the flowers on display in the varioius parts of the park.

At the front of the park is this Ferris wheel, which is not designed for humans. Instead, each car is filled with petunias.

There were a number of flowers I recognized as common favorites in the States, but there were some I did not recognize, as well. Here are some of my favorites:

Below is a view from a terrace, down on the park. The silver structure in the distance is the greenhouse, where you can purchase plants to take home.

To me, this looked like a snapdragon with teeth. It is a flower from the Argentina area the Japanese call Karuseoraria. I bought two at the greenhouse because they were so unusual. Hopefully I won't kill them too quickly.

Looking down at the building at the front of the park that houses the restaurant and other facilities. The Ferris wheel would be to the right.

There were two playgrounds for children. A number of us adults went down the slide, and played jumprope and volleyball on the large lawn of the park with the ropes and balls Flowerland provided on a big cart. The Japanese senior citizens enjoyed watching us.

While we were touring, this couple was getting their pictures taken. We think this is, in fact, their wedding portraits, not a pair of models for advertising or art. They seemed very inexperienced when it came to taking direction from the photographer and his assistants.

There was also an indoor display of odd plants, which was a lot of fun to see:

Of course, all this flower looking and jump roping made me thirsty, but I did not choose this drink out of the vending machine...

As I mentioned before, I did bring home some flowers. The sunshine to our apartment's balconies is limited, so, again, I am hoping not to kill off the plants too quickly. This is our living room balcony, which is always shaded:

Dining room table:

And the master bedroom balcony, which gets direct sunlight from 5 a.m. until about noon. I am attempting to grow red, yellow and green bell peppers, tomatoes, two types of eggplant, zucchini and basil. Wish me luck.