Yet more peculiar plants from other places, courtesy of a reader. My sister Phoebe is a frequent flier with an eye for odd details in the streets, including curious plants. Here are a few greens she spotted in Tokyo.
The picture above is from her recent trip to Buenos Aires. She writes:
This is the main street of the San Telmo district. On Calle Defensa, Euro-style mansions of the rich overlook a square where on Sundays there is a bustling antiques market.
This photo was taken in a quieter stretch of this famous road: “Calle Defensa is named after the war between Spain and Britain, who invaded the city in 1806/1807. When the British advanced into the city, a group of people poured boiling oil and water from their terraces, forcing the British to go back to their ships.” (Courtesy bookassist.com)
The potted plants crowded eagerly against the bars like kids pressing their noses against the window looking for Santa Claus!
A closer look at the photo:
A bit closer to (my) home, Phoebe spotted more potted plants in Frankfurt am Main:
In the courtyard below a friend’s ancient apartment, these thoughtfully placed plants caught my eye: one pot per step, with some pots appearing to have been vacated. A furry mass of vines rests on the landing above.
The plants in Frankfurt have a lot more personal space than the window-bar dwellers in Buenos Aires. I wonder if the overall plant population densities of the city are as different as these two photos suggest? Two photos don’t constitute a signficiant scientific sample. On the other hand, according to Wikipedia, the human population density of Buenos Aires is 38,617 residents per square mile (15,028 residents per square meter). In comparison, Frankfurt has just 6,989 people per square mile (2,699 per square meter). If the average citizen of Buenos Aires has about the same number of houseplants as the average Frankfurter, you could say the houseplants in Frankfurt have over 5 times as much space.
However, I don’t want to jump to that conclusion. Who knows how the average number of houseplants differs between people in different cities. Has anyone ever taken a houseplant census? I wonder what affects the scope of houseplant ownership. Naturally, availability of sunny windowsills or a balcony, but what about the proximity of outdoor greenery? Do people who live in a park-filled city or even a building with a landscaped courtyard have less desire to have plants at home, or more? Berlin is a relatively green city with abundant trees and parks, yet most people I know also choose to fill their apartments with plants as well. My apartment is within a three minute walk of a rose garden, a little triangle-shaped park with a playground, a gorgeous old graveyard and a tree lined pedestrian promenade, but I still have fifteen houseplants plus pots and pots of kitchen herbs.
Does the proximity of outdoor green, rather than satiating our hunger for nature, make us also demand plants of our own?