Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hokkaido's Everyday Gardens

Friends who are in the early stages of planning a visit have been asking after Hokkaido. We've had wonderful adventures there, and I'm reposting a few things I wrote elsewhere about those trips to tempt them. This post originally appeared on greenz in September, 2010, but this one about vegetable bike-touring might be another favorite.

This summer shortly after hiking and camping in Daisetsuzan National Park we spent some time biking about the streets of two nearby towns: Asahikawa and Higashikawa. There I found the kinds of gardens that fill the balconies and sidewalks of Tokyo, but with one difference: vegetables.

While Asahikawa is a primary hub for those wanting to explore Daisetsuzan and the nearby area, tourists invariably pass through Higashikawa as they head off to hike, camp, or simply enjoy mountain views from the comfort of a rotenburo. Renowned for its ramen as well as a burgeoning organic food movement, Higashikawa may also boast gardens large and small full of edibles deftly planted alongside ornamentals.

Front yards and streetscapes, though, of both cities brimmed with flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors as well as watermelon, sweet corn, and tomatoes tempted us to trespass for just a wee bite again and again. One sidewalk garden made up entirely of containers boasted magnificent heads of cabbage that any farmer would be proud to call her own.

A favorite discovery were the tiny gardens behind a single story apartment building. Thick with lilies, tomatoes, squash, morning glories, iris, shiso, and phlox to name just a few, these postage stamp gardens overflowed with life and bounty. Inspiring green spaces, without a doubt, and not just in the mountains!

Joan Lambert Bailey writes about her adventures at Popcorn Homestead andEveryday Gardens. Check out her other greenz posts, too!

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