A Garden After Blooming – Wisteria Garden, Ohori Park, Fukuoka

We see the effects of flowering plants year-round: sniffling and sneezing because of pollen, bees and insects invading picnics, and a sweet smell in the air. What many of us fail to realise is how fast flowers come and go. Nowhere is this more evident than in a single-species garden – also called a monoculture garden. What happens to a garden after blooming and what can we do there afterwards?

Recently I posted about the Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka’s Ohori Park. Wisteria (or フジ, fuji in Japanese) usually grows as a tree or bushes and the flowers hang down, reminiscent of a purple waterfall or cascade. If you can locate a Wisteria garden, it is a beautiful sight to behold. Bees and pollinating flies flit from flower to flower. The air is permeated by a strong, sweet smell that attracts as many human passersby as insects. But just as quickly as it blooms, the wisteria begins to fade.

In Japan where monoculture gardens are common, the Japanese usually flock to the garden that currently has flowers. In Kyushu (the south-western main island in Japan) at the end of March and early April, it is Cherry Blossoms. Mid- to late April it’s Wisteria gardens. At the end of April and early May the peonies make their debut. There is a schedule that many Japanese follow to know when and where to go to see the latest flowers. Once the flowers go, so do the humans.

So a garden after blooming – what’s the point? The flowers are gone. What else is there?

Especially in Japan, parks are gardens are somewhat scarce in many cities. Also a park could just be a bit of grass. The closest “park” to me is actually a small square of grass with two trees. It isn’t exactly what I would call a park. I don’t feel like I have left the hustle and bustle of a city. However gardens in Japan are usually a different story.

Ohori Park is no exception to this. While the Wisteria has stopped blooming after April (in Kyushu, at least), the wisteria garden is still a good place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle. There are no flowers, so there are many fewer insects. They prefer to go to the neighbouring flowering gardens. The Peony Garden at Ohori Park is one such example in early to mid-May.

Japanese gardens also usually have benches and sometimes tables. They become the perfect place to have a picnic and take a bento (弁当, Japanese for lunchbox). Especially as the flowers aren’t attracting insects, there should be many fewer invasions of your food. Ohori Park’s Wisteria Garden has many such benches.

For most of the year (except winter), you still have the cover of the plants. This is a great place to escape from the sun – the plants shade you from the UV and also cool the area in the garden. It can easily be a couple of degrees cooler than the surrounding area. With the almost ever-present, slight wind in Fukuoka, the combination is perfect.

It is also a great place to take photos. The plant cover, the light that filters through the canopy and the depth of colour make for wonderful photos. On occasion you will see couples setting up a tripod or their phones and taking pictures. There is very little competition here for photos though, so the most you will have to wait is a couple of minutes.

Someone else with the same idea!

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