Neighbour mrs t pops out her front door clearly

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neighbour Mrs. T. pops out her front door, clearly interested in having a chat about flowers. She and her husband run an insurance agency from the house where they have lived alone since her parents died and her son moved out. “The house is 80 years old,” she says, although it does not look that old; with its new windows, balcony and door, it blends in with the sheet iron claddings of the other houses. “We’ve had the garden since my childhood, I grew up here, my parents loved plants, too.” She proudly shows us many small details, such as thriving morning glory seeds, tiny ceramic pots where she arranges grass, and moss in a “Japanese design”. The most important thing in her garden are the primroses ( Primula Sie- boldii ) she cultivates from her own seeds. “These are difficult plants! But I love their blossoms.” The garden takes time: watering every day, and cleaning up, arranging and taking care of the plants takes her 2-3 hours on two days a week. “But it’s cheap, I make many things myself,” she tells us, pointing to the home-made pot holders hanging from the windowsill. “These cost 100 yen each, and it’s fun to make them.” She could go on for hours telling us all about her garden, where each element came from, and she invites us to come back in summer when the morning glory will be trailing over the building. Finally she sighs: “You’re from Europe? I would love to have a garden like the English have - if I had more space!” Mrs. M. has a more practical problem: her flowerpot garden has to move, temporarily, because her house is being renovated. We meet her the community framework and the wider effects of flowerpot gardens. Mrs. O. has lived in a small house in one of Tsukishima’s alleys for the last 50 years, at least, she cannot remember precisely what year it was when she got married and moved in. This morning as every morning she is out- side tending her flowers, watering the pots, picking up fallen leaves, pull- ing up weeds. Of course we can ask her some questions - but about the flowerpots? She is amused that we would care about something so unim- portant. We ask her why she is keeping the pots. “Because everybody does,” she replies, and, after some thought, because her Mother did so, too. “From childhood on, I liked plants and we always had some,” she tells us. One plant she shows us, the most important thing in her garden, is a plant she brought from Kyushu , one of Japan’s southern Islands. It is hidden behind taller plants. “It is not very beautiful, but I brought it from Kumamoto !” How many pots does she have? “What a silly question to ask!” She does not count or keep track of them, “Sometimes I buy a new one, one with beau- tiful blossoms, like the clematis I got the week before.” But is it not ex- pensive to have all these flowers, we wonder. “No, not really,” she tells us, “That’s what I like about the pots, they are pretty cheap.” Sometimes some pots disappear, or are damaged, but she does not seem too concerned about that. There are worse things than that. Does she like living in this neigh- bourhood? “It’s not a bad place, I don’t hate it,” she tells us, but is also con- cerned about the new mansion towers. “All the young people move there,

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