Tag: Kangaeroo Corner

南天は難点…Or, Farewell Heavenly Bamboo!

Kangaeroo Corner, our garden, is basically filled with Aussie native plants, but there were a few trees and plants there when we came to live here, and they have largely remained, including the nandina, also known as heavenly bamboo. Unfortunately, her presence in the garden proved far from heavenly.

The nandina, or nanten in Japanese, is a very popular plant in Japan, where it is native, as it is throughout east Asia.

Despite its name in English, it’s not a bamboo, but a shrub.

But it grows like a bamboo–fast and powerfully–and that’s why we’re saying good-bye to her.

Today we will call in an arborist and ask him to remove the nandina.

The nandina’s roots extended throughout the garden filled with Aussie plants.

One of them wrapped itself around the tree fern’s root ball, effectively killing it.

And the nandina roots were spreading toward other trees, too.

So there was no other option.

Out she goes. I feel a bit guilty. But less so after I learned that she is also toxic to creatures.

And, in her place, will be a new attempt at growing a tree fern.

And I’m adding this photo from the morning ride just because I love it, even though it has nothing else to do with the entry. Also got some great pheasant shots that I will add to yesterday’s post!

Postscript: The nandina is being removed as I write and the situation is much worse than I had imagined. Just as it had done with the tree fern, the nandina’s roots have strangled the root balls of at least the golden wattle and possibly the alpine cider gum, or both. I couldn’t look. Both threatened trees had appeared to be thriving. Removing the nandina may also kill these trees, or one of them, probably the golden wattle, based on proximity. It was heartbreaking. But, taking the troublesome tree out of the equation means the others may still have a chance. They would have been doomed otherwise.


Getting old is not much fun, nor, as the late, great thespian Bette Davis once famously said, it’s not for sissies. But I’ve becoming increasingly conscious of age over the past few weeks.

My eyesight is going: quickly and rapidly. I’m seeing less in the dark and rain, vision is cloudy and peripheral vision untrustworthy.

Arthritis in my hands is making even the most minor of tasks a tough one.

And my professional life, such as it is, is slipping from disaster to disaster.

All these things are adding up to fill me with fear and trepidation, which has become paralyzing, and even worse, kept me away from one of the sources of dealing with such feelings: cycling.

Riding a bike has proven to be a physical, mental and spiritual cog in my well-being since I regularly got onto the bike about a decade ago.

Without cycling, I eat more to run away from confronting issues, get fatter, hate myself more and then eat more to cope with the self-loathing. It’s a vicious circle and one I have never really broken, only redirected by getting onto a bike.

Experience has showed me that times like these will eventually pass and that these struggles turn out to be decent periods of growth in the long run.

I’m sure that will happen, but equally convinced that my own actions will be crucial in bringing about such an outcome.

And now I am too dominated by fear to take the action I need to. So I am doing what I can and plugging away until that drive I need to make things happen appears.

In the meantime, I’m really throwing myself into Kangaeroo Corner, our garden.

May wasn’t as warm and sunny this year as it is for most years, so the floral extravaganza I’d expected in the second year of having a garden hasn’t panned out.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been without its pleasures.

Most pleasing of all has been the resurgence of the kangaroo paw, which I had given up for dead.

The flower came back bigger than it was last year. It was totally unexpected and brought great delight.

The jacaranda feared dead has also made something of a comeback, though it still has many bare branches where leaves did not re-sprout, so I am giving her a bit more time.

Our tree fern, which I desperately wanted to thrive because of its symbolic value for someone who grew up in the Dandenong Ranges, has died, though I am loathe to say so and still cling on to hope for a miracle considering that a stick we put in a pot a couple of years ago has resumed its life as a grevillea and may even flower this year.

But we have been presented with an amazing offer of a more mature tree fern that we’re going to take up.

First, though, we need to rip out a nandina heavenly bamboo (nanten in Japanese) that had always been in the garden. It’s kinda lovely, but it’s fate was decided when I removed the tree fern from the ground a couple of months ago and found that the nandina’s roots had extended several meters and literally choked the Australian native’s life support system.

The nandina is scheduled for removal this week and the new tree fern can be planted at a later date.

Also bringing good news is the Snow-in-the-Summer, which is the name used in Japan for the melaleuca decora, commonly known as the white feather honeymyrtle.

A couple of blossoms appeared on this tree last year, but this year, the entire top tier of the plant is turning a fluffy white.

It looks great, particularly at a distance.

The rainy season appears to have started, with wet weather forecast for every day this week. It’s a bleak, gloomy time and matches my current mood.

Still, at these times, perhaps it couldn’t be better to remember that it’s an ill wind indeed that brings no good.

Lots. And Nothing

All sorts of things have been happening, but also nothing at all. I hope that doesn’t seem too strange?

The “all sorts of things” are just day-to-day events that keep me busy.

And there was yet another clash with my boss, this time leading to her humiliation. I could have made it worse for her, but have decided to quit while ahead. I’m sure that will have repercussions down the track. I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it, though.

For the time being, I have another five months’ work, so I can hopefully make the most of it.

Kangaeroo Corner is looking OK for the most part, too, but me being me, my concern is over the plants I have failed.

My seedlings from Oz haven’t worked well at all. It will be interesting to see how the native wisteria goes. It has been outside for the past few days and yet to die, so it is as good as can be.

Tomorrow, I will meet my brother and sister-in-law at Tokyo Station on their way to Narita to fly home. It will be our first meeting in about seven years.

Thursday will then be my final day at work for a week. I need time away. And Golden Week has kindly arrived to provide that. I also need a regular job. If anybody reading this can help, please get in touch. (I pissed off a woman from work who tried to arrange a transfer to her team but I was unenthusiastic because it would have meant a 50% wage cut for longer working hours, so I need an attitude adjustment, too?)

Saving Things For a Rainy Day

The magical beanie given to me by the wonderful folks from Four ‘N Twenty Japan

It’s drizzling and miserable weather today, which provides a wonderful opportunity for an update as my customary lunchtime ride can be substituted.

Lots has happened since my last post, but there’s little time to write about it, so this is a bit of a summary of the past couple of weeks.

Perhaps most important is the passage of the first anniversary of my garden, Kangaeroo Corner, earlier this week. Amazing Alex, his mate, Mrs. Kangaeroo, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law built the garden as I was out with a broken leg at the time. It has since become one of the great joys of my life.

In some ways, Kangaeroo Corner is thriving. But I have to admit to a tad of disappointment. I have messed up every single one of the plants that I most cherished when we first put them in the ground: the kangaroo paw (because of the kangaroo connection), tree fern (because it is such an iconic presence in the Dandenong Ranges) and jacaranda (which Mrs. Kangaeroo specified because she strongly associates the tree with Australia) are all apparently dead. Might be a bit early, based on last spring’s late flourishes, but I’m not holding my hopes too high.

That leads to the next event: seeds. I planted a pile of seeds that I brought back from Australia last year in the hope of being able to grow them. I’ve had them in humidity pods with constant light (and heat in half of the pods) since mid-February, with the exception of some everlasting daisies that I took out after they germinated and transplanted into pots. (And subsequently killed more than half of by putting them in a hothouse in the middle of an unseasonable stinker).

Growing numbers of seeds are starting to germinate. The golden everlastings have sprung up, as have a couple of native wisteria, many dwarf wattle, a honeysuckle banksia and….hope beyond hope, lots of kangaroo paw! For the time being, I’m leaving all of the little seedlings in the pods. With the exception of the golden everlastings, none of them look particularly robust. And the transplanting process is messy and cumbersome, so I need more dexterous hands than I’ve got, so it will take a dual day off with Mrs. Kangaeroo to get this going properly.

Speaking of which, the Kangaeroos got to go into town together for the first time in ages earlier this month, and got to celebrate the occasion with a visit to an absolutely amazing gyoza restaurant, Kofuku Gyoza Sakaba in the central Tokyo district of Uguisudani. For just 1,180 yen we got all-you-can-eat dumplings served with side dishes of pickled cucumber, kimchee and salad. The dumplings were huge, juicy and utterly delicious. Despite having an appetite that is ravenous pretty much all the time and a gullet with seemingly endless capacity, I couldn’t get through the entire meal. Simply scrumptious!

Work has been an ongoing nightmare, more because we are so busy than anything else at the moment. I fear that the staff shortage we’re facing may be by design.

I got to take a long-awaited ride with some Strava mates last weekend. The people I met have been long-time associates and always highly supportive. I’ve always wanted to meet and finally got to do so. As just about everybody I have ever met through cycling has been, they were excellent people, indeed! We had a wonderful ride to Yokohama, a great feed at Yokohama Zebra and parted with promises to ride together again more often. I really felt blessed.

Finally, cherry blossom season is upon us. The blossoms have bloomed at a record speed this year. They’re not quite in full bloom in western suburban Tokyo yet, but with near-constant rain forecast for the next four days, I got out this morning to take some pics in anticipation of not being able to do so during this year’s season.

Hello Cocky!

Spring is drawing closer by the day, if not actually here already in Tokyo, but that doesn’t mean the warmth has arrived yet, though the cockatoo in Kangaeroo Corner couldn’t care less.

Every morning is getting lighter and the flowers are blooming.

Kangaeroo Corner’s wattle is resplendent!

We were originally going to have a wattle-viewing party in the early spring, but it looks like reality has intervened.

Speaking of reality, it’s bloody chilly again today.

Apparently, this is only a one-off.

It’s a little apt, as the icy relationship with my boss is becoming positively chilling after we were dumped with yet more work following the departure of yet another member of staff.