|Camellias with a single whorl of red petals are |
common in Japanese landscapes, and little
changed from the wild species found in Japanese
Winter is hardly the time to look for wildflowers, but in climatically moderate places like Japan there is
much to observe about plant life. While more sensitive plants, like the iconic Lotus and Wisteria, are completely dormant, native Camellias are in full bloom. Evergreens, like the Black Pine and Bamboo can dominate landscapes and make on forget entirely what season it is.
The origins of Camellia japonica are given away by its scientific name. Hundreds of varieties are grown worldwide in warm-temperate and subtropical climates, providing colorful displays in winter. It is a close relative of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), which is native to China.
|Black Pines dominate Japanese gardens, parks, |
and temple grounds. These growing on a small
island are on the spacious grounds of the
Kinkaju-ji Temple in Kyoto.
Many native species are revered elements of classical Japanese landscapes. None is more prominent than the Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii), which can be readily shaped by pruning, and even grown as bonsai. Buildings may even be modified to accommodate nearby specimens.
|Near Kiamizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, this Black |
Pine has been trained to grow along a rooftop.
|At the Kasugataisha Temple, in the |
ancient capital city of Nara, this roof
was modified to accommodate the
trajectory of a nearby Japanese Cedar
tree Cryptomeria japonica).
|This Ardisia crenata, in Kenroku-en |
Garden in the foothills of the Japanese
Alps, is still green and holding its fruit
a few days after an unusually heavy
As elsewhere, many Japanese plants produce their berries during the winter. Often colored red, they stand out against bleak winter landscapes, offering food for birds.
|Though not native to Japan, these Narcissus |
blossoms herald an early Spring in Tokyo.
|Though not as spectacular as their |
cherry cousins, the plum trees are the
earliest to bloom.