Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When is a flower a weed and when is it knot?

I had an interesting break from my sewing today. In the early afternoon the doorbell rang and when I went to answer, there stood the owner of the local flower shop with a piece of paper in her hand.

On the paper, written in phonetic Japanese was the word "porikonamu".

The week before Christmas I had taken a little flower to the shop to see if anyone could identify it. I know I had seen it sold in one of the local shops. I took it to two shops in the neighbourhood but both said that it was a weed and their shop had never sold it.

At our former home, a neighbor along our street had this flower bordering their drive and I had been given a cutting for my own yard. When we moved back to our own house, I brought some cuttings and planted them along the edge of the wall. Our "street" had been no more than a dirt path for many years. Our "garden" is really a set-back until the time all the homes are rebuilt and the city can get enough of each property to make a real road large enough for a car to fit. The path is lightly paved but with no drains so becomes a shallow pond each time it rains. The flowers not only soften the wall but soak up the water after a rain.

Although they are considered by some to be a weed, they are low growing and very easy to control. They don't mind the hot summers and die back after a few nights of frost.

Guessing at the name from the Japanese, I was able to find the flower with a few clicks of the computer. (I had looked in all my flower books and nature study books with no luck).

Polygonum capitata, or Pink-head knotweed!

The flower shop lady told me she saw it being sold at another shop in the area and remembered that I had asked her.

She had written the name down and brought it to my door.

My husband was most surprised and asked how she knew where I lived.

How funny. Our house has been known as the Gaijin house (the foreigner house)
all the years it has stood here, including those years when it was occupied by my Mother-in-law. Each time I walk out, I have to leave extra time as I am usually stopped along the way. "I saw you going out in your Scout uniform yesterday. Where were you going"? Yes, I did have a Pack meeting. "I haven't seen you for ten days", Yep, I was at Scout camp. From the early '60s I was very careful to be a good American because there were lots of people watching and judging and I felt responsible for any impression I might leave. Oh yes, they not only know where I live but all my kids names and ages and all the grand kids info too. (and I suspect they share info with each other)

Plans for the Conference banner are coming along. Saturday my granddaughter spent the day and helped me go through the 3-inch tin to find bits to put together.

I decided to sew them together as the seam allowance varied quite a bit on the sample blocks.

I spent all of Monday on the copy quilt, thinking the blocks would be needed on Tuesday. As it turned out, they won't be needed until next week but at least they are out of the way and I could begin work on piecing.

After two days this part is together. I plan off-white letters appliqued in the blocks and a one-inch off-white inner border. Then I need to come up with a plan for the outer border that the class can sew together. I am thinking of solid color fabrics that can be signed by those attending the conference. I have no idea of how many people will attend the class or how much might get done but I hope to have something that can be hung the last day and finished up for next year. I might sandwich the quilt and leave space to add the borders. That way we could try a bit of quilting and sashiko in the water area. I will have two days to think over a plan while I am getting ready for the Bible Quilt class and my Pack meeting. I have no idea what to do for an hour with a group of active 6-10 year olds this month but I doubt quilting is an option.

Any ideas for a simple effective border would be welcome ... as well as ideas for boys to have fun. Oh boy, how do I get myself into these things!?#


  1. I love your pink "weed" flower Julie.

  2. Julie what a wonderful story about finding the name of your flower/weed. We have on a couple of occasions lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone. One summer day friends came to visit from a nearby city. They were amazed when we let our 10 year old son walk "to town" to get a haircut. They would never have done that where they lived. He soon returned riding with the barber, who dropped him off at home as he went home for lunch. Of course he knew where our son lived, who his parents were, and made sure to honk and wave as he drove off. There are good sides to those neighbors knowing all about you. :) I'm afraid I don't have suggestions for your border or the 6-10 year olds. I could figure out something for the border but the 6-10 year olds scare me! blessings, marlene

  3. That is a very interesting looking flower. I think it to be pretty and I'll bet it's quite showy. It looks like your can 'pop' the little petals. How nice that you now know the name.

  4. Sounds like you will have your hands full. I have ton tshirt classes with boys, they love to decorate their own and with fabric markers, it is less mess.


  5. I think any flower that is loved and welcomed by the owner is OK and NOT a weed!
    Its strange, we think we live our lives in private and sort-of isolation...then something happens and we realise we are surrounded and others know A LOT about us xx enjoy your sewing xx

  6. lovely post, as always - i believe weeds are any plant not in the right spot - so a rose coming up in your vegie patch would be deemed a weed (if you didn't put it there on purpose, of course) - so your little flowers are not weeds - and they're very pretty as well as practical. Ref the border - looks like it'll be a picture so a simple dark frame should draw the eye in....and ref your 6-10 year olds - it has to be something that keeps them moving - a treasure hunt? a mini olympic games with a prize for the winners?

  7. The pink head knotweed is gorgeous! So funny your description of the attention the Japanese pay to "foreigners". I always think the First Nation people in my town don't notice me but maybe I'm wrong.

  8. I wonder if that would grow here in Southern California, or if it would grow out-of-control? It's a very interesting looking plant. Love the other part of the story about living in the "foreigner house." When we traveled in Japan, I definitely felt like a stranger!

    Elizabeth E.

  9. If that's a weed, it sure is a pretty one! :o) Looking forward to seeing your banner progress.

  10. HAHA! Some things just never change (re: your neighbors ...) Glad you have always represented us well here in the States, not many would be so mindful but then, I think some of us were raised like that :) I thank you for your every effort and sincerity. As always, your work is so impressive and I hope to be as good someday. TFS ... p.s. I keep forgetting to ask if you're fluent in Japanese? I did not assume as much but if you carry on conversations in such detail with the neighbors was just wondering?

  11. Hi.
    What a beautifull flower,I hope the winter her will run fast, so I can see some flowers again.. It seems just like in my little town- here also "everybody" knows everybody:-)But in a big city- fun.
    I belive you will do it just fine with the boys:-)
    Have fun.
    Hugs :-)

  12. I like the story about your knotweed, I think it's pretty (don't take any kudjo, though!). I don't have any suggestions about how to occupy the 6-10 yr olds that would interest both sexes, good luck on that! Had you thought about a piano-key border, since you will get signatures? Light color fabrics all around would look nice, to set off the enter.

  13. I'll take that weed any day. It is so unusual looking and beautiful. How wonderful of the flower shop owner to stop by and tell you what they learned about the flower.
    We had similar comments while living in Turkey. Our apartment building was known as a place for Americans even though there were only two American families out of ten Turkish families living in this building. We thought we were blending in, but we could not outsmart the locals. They know!