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Battening down the hatches - Typhoon due to hit Shadowlands



Having long considered writing a blog, what better way to start than with the dramatic! Some of you who have kindly answered my eclectic gardening questions will have seen the mammoth project that I have on in the mountains of Hakone, Japan. I’m not a gardening novice, but getting to know the local conditions, plants, pests, and so on will be a challenge. As always, the best chances of success will come from research, trial and error, and good old fashioned luck (plus the help of the GrowsonYou gardening community).

The best laid plans

To be a gardener is, in essence, to be a person of great patience and adaptability. As so many generals throughout history have realized when preparing for an offensive, in the garden, back up plans are always necessary. The weekend was to be spent up at Shadowlands planting a Rhododendron walk, to include Augusutini Ejinbarafomu, Janet Ward, and Kalmia (among other varieties I have got my hands on), before the sharp frosts hit us in mid November, followed by the inevitable snows.

But, these plans have had to be shelved, at least for now, as a very late typhoon threatens to make a direct hit. The Japanese Meteorological Agency tracks all typhoons (in English at the link below):

I’ll still be going up there, if the trains are running, but I’ll be monitoring a leaking roof, rather than manuring and bedding in the Rhodos. Yet, every cloud has a silver lining, and if the studio survives the wind and lashing rain, then at least it will have passed a structural test!

It is also going to afford me a very good opportunity to see the garden under a different weather condition, and this will be invaluable for seeing where water accumulates and where there are run-off problems.

I wonder what all you other avid gardeners find solace in when those very best laid plans go awry? Would love to hear.

My thought/question of the day

How does the scientific and horticultural community determine whether a plant is native to a region or not? Is this based on fossil evidence, historical records, or a different adjuducation? This impertinent question came to me when I discovered that the very English rhubarb, which I have finally succeeded in obtaining in Japan, wey, hey crumble here we come, is native to Siberia!


More blog posts by ptarotuos

Next post: Fall Colours at Shadowlands and Rhododendron walk



Hi ptarotuos. Hope the typhoon doesn't hit too hard, but you have a very positive attitude! To answer your question about finding solace . . . when something has gone badly awry in the garden, I just look at the things which HAVE done well, and make me smile. Also, I love to find things by chance that I'd forgotten I'd planted.

28 Oct, 2010 seems you'll have a worrying few days until the typhoon passes over. I really hope it doesn't give you too many problems on your property...your attitude that it at least will afford an opportunity to observe any structural faults in the bath house and any water-logged areas is very positive!

I guess my escape is here on GOY where I look, drool (lol) and plan for my small back garden...nothing like the size of project you are undertaking! When all else fails you can make a batch of rhubarb

I do hope you get your Rhododendron Walk completed before the winter sets in. Take care through the impending storm and keep safe.

28 Oct, 2010


i am fascinated by your project, it sounds like a wonderful garden.
when things go wrong?? they often seem to do that but the garden itself is good therapy ~ digging helps and then i think it would be looking for the details ~ tiny petals and delicate leaves that have subtle colour changes; fragile plants that somehow manage to grow through rocks and paving slabs ~ i think they would be my inspiration ~ oh yes and always blue sky!

28 Oct, 2010


Thanks for your comments everyone. Slightly tangential to my missive is the topic of regret. It seems to me that gardening is also a series of choices: gardens very often bring us to points of decision. I wonder what people's biggest, irreversible garden faux pas have been, or bad calls. I began recently to scrape the inch-think moss of the exterior balcony steps. Such lovely spongy stuff, a beautiful green, moist and springy, but treacherously slippery. As I was scraping it off almost like wall-paper, I couldn't help but feel regret when I thought about the years it must have been growing happily, and putting how I was putting an end to its verdure. Have any of you lopped of the wrong branch or such like?

28 Oct, 2010


mistakes can be opportunities? could that moss be used on stones in the lower part of the garden?
OH makes the mistakes ~ he pulls up the flowers and leaves the weeds!!

28 Oct, 2010


Sticki, so does my OH, sigh! I think my motto in the garden Ptaro. is 'you win some, you lose some', hey ho, with our changing climate you are never quite sure if that 'hardy' plant will survive the harsh winter or the dry summers, it's grown and see, some plants fair better than others. I have lost a lot these past few years but you have to re-plant and try again. Like Sticki says, transfer that moss elsewhere, it will soon put down its little roots. Our biggest regret is planting conifers that are now too big and wide now and will cost too much to lop! We have been here for 36 years and our garden has grown tired, like us really.LOL!!!

28 Oct, 2010


Sorry you have the worry of an approaching typhoon ptarotuos. I hate wind most of all in the garden. The oddest thing I have done this summer was to plant out a Phlox I had in a pot, thinking I was doing it a favour. As I turned it over to get it out of the large ceramic pot, I lost grip of it and dropped it on the ground. I broke all the flower heads before they had a chance to flower and there has been very little activity from it since!! I hope it will reappear next year.
It is my husband I have to watch....he has a cut and burn attitude to gardening and we are always falling out when he stands on my plants to cut some poor shrub he has decided looks too big.

28 Oct, 2010


you have reminded me linda of a very silly thing i did a couple of years ago ~ i bought a very pretty plant which was something like a small [short] campanula type ~ i hadnt seen them before but i was really looking forward to enjoying it all summer
but guess what ~ when i tried to take it out of the pot somehow, i still dont know how i managed to pull all the roots off it ~ so it was no good at all ~ i was so disappointed.

28 Oct, 2010


Typhoon update. Decided that it wasn't worth the risk trying to travel up to Shadowlands during the typhoon, so I'll have to see what damage has been done when I visit on Wednesday! Fingers crossed.

30 Oct, 2010


all the best ~ keep us posted

30 Oct, 2010


I do so hope any damage is minimal....a wise decision not to travel during the typhoon.

30 Oct, 2010


Stop in the warm and keep safe.

30 Oct, 2010


Shadowlands Missive 2,

Thanks for your notes everyone about the typhoon.

I managed to spend some time up at Shadowlands on Wednesday and inspect the typhoon damage. Because it veered away last minute, we did not feel the full force, but experienced high winds and buckets of rain. When I arrived, Shadowlands betrayed no outward signs of being affected in the slightest. This was very pleasing. I spent the whole day on Wednesday planting bulbs, all the old favorites in various combinations and groupings. Used a very handy bulb planting device which, although no doubt useless in hard or heavy ground, was just the ticket for the soft mulchy top soil.

However, I returned on Saturday, this time with the family, to find that about 30 or so bulbs had been rooted up and devoured by those boar I posted about a few weeks ago. I forget who mentioned that they will eat anything, but I concede whole heartedly that you were spot on. However, about 70% of the bulbs remain, so fingers crossed.

Two monsters

Today, I decided to brave it and attempt to find the boundary fence at the back of the property, which is effectively in deep forest. I eventually found some old posts and thick, but long-decayed bamboo cross rails, and then followed the line of the posts. It took me way up the bank through thick brush, vine, creepers, great specimen trees of all descriptions, and then - then - I came across the most enormous Satsuki (Azalea) I have ever seen. A great venerable specimen, still doing battle with the forest. 90% of it looked dead, but then at the tops of the spindly twigs were green leaves. A glorious find, and a highlight of what will, in time, be my woodland walk. That was the first monster, but in fact, with one of my iPhone snaps (see my garden photos, sorry for the grainy images - it was in thick undergrowth), I managed to catch both the Satsuki and the flank of a large boar (top left hand corner of the first photo).

The final snap is a view of the Studio and fall colours. The typhoon was a pain in blowing off leaves, and not allowing so many to turn. Still a nice show, and to improve over the next few weeks.

Returning to my Satsuki, I couldn't believe my find really, because a relative is just completing a book on Satsuki bonsai growing! Surely a specimen even he would lather at the mouth for.

Cheers, ptarotuos

7 Nov, 2010


very glad to hear you avoided much damage from the typhoon and great news about the huge azalea ~ will look forward to photos of it next spring! hope that boar wont cause too much trouble
do they hunt boar in that area?

7 Nov, 2010


Very relieved, Ptarotuos that you haven't experienced the storm damage that was predicted....those boars have sure been busy then....nicking some of your newly planted bulbs.

What great finds in the trees...I'm going to your photos now to have a look. It will be great when you can post about how you fair through the coming months and see how things are coming along. Thanks for the update.

7 Nov, 2010


Very interesting blog Peter, there is always a price to be paid to live in such beauty isn't there. As to when a plant is deemed a native....I suppose that in the life of the planet, it is only a very short time that man has been capable of real travel. I also presume that this is how plants travelled, crossing continents, either by accident or purpose so that anything that predates that time must be considered 'native'. Having said all that...I have not the faintest idea :-)))

5 Dec, 2010

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