Monday, October 20, 2014

Ready for a botany lesson?

Earlier today, I was visiting my blogging friends and came across some lovely photographs of leaves in the rain.

JoAnn of Scene Through My Eyes is a master with a camera and I always enjoy her nature pictures.

The pictures she provided are leaves in the rain and in fall colors ... lovely!

They looked to me like Katsura, Cercidiphyllum japonica, a tree that is native to Japan. In fact, Katsura is the largest deciduous tree native to Japan. It is the only member of its genus and, like the Ginkgo, the male and female flowers are on different trees.

In spring the leaves come out looking like pink hearts.

Only a few leaves were on the ground and these among the azalea bushes along the curb-side.

There were a few golden leaves, the most common fall color hiding among the branches.

A number of years ago, the local train tracks were raised above the main road and the place underneath was made into a parking area (where we park our car as well). The south side of the former tracks were planted with a line of Katsura trees. It is not a tree often found along streets but since it has no power lines to deal with, it looks it's very best here.

In another few weeks, we will be treated with a row of golden trees.

Being a woodcarver, this is one of my favorite woods. It is a reddish color, fine grained and easy to work. It is widely used here for cabinet making, veneer, and implements.

In 1990, the Scouts offered a course in Commissioner Science. The first year.a Scouter takes the course for a bachelors degree. The next year, teaches the course for a Masters. The final degree was a PHD (in commissioner science) and I decided to give it a try.

I gave three proposals of year-long projects and the one that was selected was a book to use for identification of woody plants (mostly trees). Scouts in the States have plenty  of resources to use in identifying poisonous plants and trees but in Japan there was nothing written in English. My plan was a guide to assist scouts in meeting many of the nature requirements.

These days you might be able to go on line and search for information but in those days there was nothing. Even today, a field guide in English is a far-off dream. I took one year to research common trees in the Kanto area (around Tokyo) and make drawings. The book was assembled on a word processor with the help of my husband. The pages were in the A4 size, printed and folded in half with the blank side inside. I stapled the open edges and added a cover. In February '91 I put together a book for each troop and pack in the area to use and one for each library in the international schools at that time. Since then, it has been scanned and added to the Troop 15 Far East Council downloads.

Recently I have passed the drawings and original prints to a Scouter who is planning to make an up-dated download in the future. At the back of the book, I put maps of areas with numbers where trees in the book were located. That way, a leader who had no knowledge of plants and trees, could go to the spot and read the description and let the scouts use their observation skills to locate the tree being described. Now many of those trees are gone and there are a few new ones to add. I am not very handy with a computer but the Leader says the newer version will be easier to add to or up-date.

I am just happy that my efforts so long ago were and are being put to use. I love to take scouts and leaders on nature walks and help them to get to know both plants and animals. We protect the things we love ... but the first step is getting to know nature ...  so that day will come.

On that walk to look at the Katsura, I was surprised to see a number of Japanese dogwood (Yama hoshi, or mountain star) in bloom.

These flowers usually open in the spring ... a bit later than American dogwood, and after the leaves come out.
I had never seen them bloom again in the fall.

We have had second blooms of Magnolia the last few years and my Gardenia usually blooms a second time when night temperatures fall.

These flowers come out light pink, then turn white and do make the trees look as if they are full of stars.

 The four-inch blocks are gradually getting done.

Today I finished the sashing on the blue ones and have 9 purple and six blocks left to do. Then I will be able to put this rainbow together.

Good project for a rainy day, huh?

I finally dug out the flannel sheet to arrange them on. This weekend we will have a choir retreat at the foot of Mt Fuji. I do not have to drive so I am hoping I will have blocks to assemble as take-along work. I am beginning to wonder the best way to keep them from getting turned or mixed up once I have them arranged. I am hoping to separate those with the same fabrics. Ideas and suggestions are always welcome.


  1. I'm just a beginner with quilting, but when I am in fear of mixing blocks up or sewing them the wrong way, I use tiny pieces of numbered masking tape to number them. Just be sure to put a line under the six and nine so you know which way is up! And then put them on the upper left hand corner. This has worked well for me and they stick just fine, but also are easily removed. BTW, I love your blog!

  2. Great botany lesson - and what a wonderful way for your studies to be used for Scout education. The trees I took photos of were more rounded on the top than pointy like the ones you featured. They had no wires nearby so I don't think they had been trimmed. I'd love to see a tree with the pink heart shaped leaves in the spring.

    Your quilt is wonderful wonderful wonderful - I love the way the white pieces go diagonally, giving it a feeling of motion. Fabulous rainbow!!!

    We've had a few repeat blossoms this year, I think because our summer was so long and so warm that the plants thought they should still be blooming. Now the fall rains have begun - and will replenish the snows on the mountains for next spring and summer water.

  3. Gorgeous dogwood! And I love your quilt!! I can't wait to see the purple added.

  4. Beautiful photos and fun to learn about the plants in your area.
    I used to carve, but hard on my hands now. Your quilt is coming along beautifully.


  5. I would do like Sara, stick on small numbered labels. Or take a photo of the blocks laid out, and either have the photo available as a print or in my mobile to refer to.
    If we only looked more closely we would notice the variety of trees to be found even in the city. Your book must have given lots of scouts so much pleasure.

  6. Our raspberry plant it bearing fruit again. The raspberries are just starting to turn from green to pinkish. Granted, I don't know anything about plants, but, I've never heard of a raspberry bush 'blooming' twice in one year, especially this late (and chilly).

  7. VERY good project for a rainy day! It's beautiful - so bright and cheery! I agree with Sara - a sticky label in the top LEFT corner should keep them in order - ;)) And I love your botany lessons! I have a plant in the backyard that is blooming again, too - it was a lovely surprise - I thought that I would have to wait until spring to see it flower again - ;))