>toppage>Flowers and Seasons at Gatsuzōji


 January. The yearend comes and goes wrapped in the scent of wintersweet, which lingers in the temple garden, caressing the daffodils that peak shyly from the ground. The tender buds of the red and white plum trees start swelling around the setsubun date (February 3rd), reaching their full blossoming splendour in March, when the minuscule daphne flowers explode in fragrant colonies beside the dignified camellia bushes. Around the time when the camphor tree sheds its red-tinged leaves, which seem to dance to the sound of their own rustling in the frigid wind, the maple tree, now bare yet having bravely endured the winter, puts forth new buds and drinks thirstily of the life flowing from the earth, until its bark acquires a green hue. Its branches shine with new life, and the tiny soft new leaves stretch lazily in the blessed sunlight like so many baby hands.

蝋梅 水仙 紅梅 沈丁花 アイリス
太郎冠者 椿 椿 椿 白椿
白椿 黒椿 椿 モミジの新芽 もみじ

April is the month when the sweetest scent fills the garden and all the plants seem to compete with each other in beauty and fragrance: the Japanese cornel, whose delicate yellow flowers rush to show themselves before the leaves appear, the red and purple cercis, the delightful Japanese quince with its plump buds or the wabi-suke camellia, its flowers no bigger than half a thumb. At the same time, the lily of the valley shivers timidly in the shadow of a rock.

境内 境内 新緑 山茱萸 花ずおう
花ずおう 木瓜 曙 侘助椿 すずらん水仙

When the petals of the glamorous peony fall one by one under the raindrops, the month of May has almost arrived, welcomed by the various azaleas (kirishima, kurume, hirado) whose colourful flowers are an open invitation to butterflies. After a shower, there is nothing as lush as the freshly washed leaves, and nothing as charming as the raindrop sparkling on the shiran (Bletilla striata) flowers.

牡丹 牡丹 つつじ つつじ 紫蘭
山ツツジ 仙栽 こでまり しゃくなげ 赤つつじ

June. The hotaru-bukuro has decked itself with bell-shaped flowers and the hydrangea responded to the rain's invitation by opening, under the shade of trees, splendidly blue petals. During the rainy season, I must trim the trees whose flowers are already gone, so I get busy with summer preparations.

ホタルブクロ 蕚紫陽花 山紫陽花 あじさい シャガ

During summer days, when the cicadas begin their racket soon after dawn, the temple garden is a cool haven for its visitors, but I must not forget to water it each morning and evening. When the crape myrtle flowers have passed, along with the hot summer days, the silverleaf buds spring forth and autumn approaches rapidly.

百日紅白 百日紅赤 夏の仙栽 茶の木 夏の境内


 Almost without notice, it is winter again. The maple leaves which blessed us with their cool green in summer now turn a fiery red, glowing in the early twilight, while the yellow leaves of the gingko and zelkova trees seem to share their brightness with the clear blue sky. The trees reluctantly take off their gorgeous garments, weaving a robe of red and yellow for the ground.

金木犀 ツワブキ シュウメイ菊 モミジの紅葉 銀杏の黄葉
モミジ 落ち葉 落葉 さざんか ハナミズキ

And soon it is December again, the wintersweet opens its magic reservoirs of scent once more, while the trees stand naked and proud in the cold air, quietly awaiting the spring.

モミジの種 ツワブキの種 裸木 なんてん 蝋梅

The garden from Gatsuzōji changes with the season, as the trees and flowers engage in a contest of splendour, offering an ever-changing spectacle to the visitors.