The fruits that slowly started swelling on Murin-an’s Japanese quinces in mid-summer have begun to turn yellow. Visitors often ask “Are those apples? Or Chinese quinces?”
Before they turn ripe, they stay hidden behind the leaves, but now that the leaves have fallen off the quinces, their ripened yellow fruits have begun to stand out. You can encounter these big fruits as you walk around the garden’s lawn area.
Here are some pictures of our tea ceremony classes held on October 4 and 5 (Fri. and Sat.).
The room resonated with the pleasant breeze brought in by opening the sliding doors and the pleasant sound of the stream’s cascades. This time our instructor taught us about the different ways men and women open the door of a tea house. Our students put elegant gestures into each one of their movements.
There was a common map butterfly (Cyrestis thyodamas) resting with its wings outspread. It Japanese name ishigakecho (or “rock cliff butterfly”) derives from the fact that the pattern on its wings looks like a rock cliff.
Just like the Cryptotympana facialis (a species of Japanese cicada), its distribution spreads out in the southern direction, and can be seen these days in the mountan forests of Kyoto.
When it is still, it stops with its wings outspread, so if you see one, enjoy looking at the rock cliff-like pattern on its wings.
On October 2 (Wed.), we held our 86th wild-bird mini-lecture on the first floor of the 8-tatami mat space on the main house’s first floor. This time we discussed the intermediate egret. We introduced how this wild bird primarily migrates in summer and that it comes to Japan to propagate. During courtship and mating, it changes color and bears decorative feathers.
There are three varieties of egret seen in this area: the Great Egret, the Intermediate Egret, and the Little Egret. Because the Intermediate Egret exists in relatively fewer numbers compared to the other egret varieties and because its natural habitat differs from this area, it is rarely seen here.
What’s this insect? Look carefully and you’ll see it’s a moth relative.
When it first emerges, its transparent wings are covered in white scales, but these fall off and turn transparent every time it flaps its wings. Its colorful look is to allow it to mimic other creatures and avoid being eaten by natural enemies. It can also fly at incredibly high speeds, flapping its wings over 70 times in a single second. Thanks to this wing flapping, it is able to stop in midair and suck the nectar from flowers.
Murin-an’s garden path has many little pebbles laid over it to allow our visitors to walk through the garden. The crushed gravel, known as biri (or “rip”) stone in Japanese, is said to derive its name from the tearing sound it makes when walked upon.
Because more foot traffic leads to the biri stones straying outside the garden path, we use hand whisks to sweep them back toward the center. Carefully sweeping both sides of the garden path, we pave the ground by using the tips of the bamboo whisk to stroke areas where little pebble hills have developed.
We remove pebbles on both sides of the path to keep them as much as possible from moving off the path and to create a passage for rainwater when it rains. If pebbles get into the gaps in the moss, the moss will gradually stop growing.
So maintaining the garden path by attentively sweeping the biri stones is an important task for garden management. Biri stones can easily end up clumping together on sloped sections of the garden path, so we also collect and remove any stones that have accumulated.
When you walk on Murin-an’s garden path, try walking along slowly and affectionately as you enjoy the sounds of your feet walking on the gravel.
On September 26 (Thurs.), we held a kimono wearing lesson on the second floor of the main house. Our instructor discussed the colors and patterns for autumn and concluded by displaying actual kimonos. Our participants enjoyed the lesson as they drank match tea.
Our next kimono lessons are on October 2 (Wed.) and 16 (Wed.)!
There are several meadowhawk species that fly around and stop in Murin-an’s garden. Recently, we saw several Sympetrum darwinianum (a meadowhawk species) males that have taken a liking to the area around the tea house. When other males flew by here, these ones chased them away to protect their territory. A little further down the garden path, those other males had secured a favorite area of their own.
Pruning Trees on Murin-an’s Outer Edge (continued)
As we reported on September 24 (Tues.), there are lots of trees on Murin-an’s outer edge to prune, and so once again our gardener pruned the ring-cupped oaks. “Today, we’re going to be pruning around the three-stage waterfall,” he told us. When we came back to the same spot a little while later, the northern side of the water-crossing stones had been transformed into a bright space.
Ring-cupped oaks have thick foliage that can block light from reaching the forest when overgrown. Because we prune to let not only light but also wind to pass through, the branches and leaves can now be clearly seen. Our gardener checked the balance with neighboring trees from the spaces in the oak tree and ended his work for the day.
On September 25 (Wed.), we held a mini-lecture in the 8-tatami mat space of the main house’s first floor on the Malaysian Hawk-cuckoo. Because this wild bird is a relative of the cuckoo, it fledges its chicks from the nest through brood parasitism (laying eggs in other wild birds’ nests and having them rear one’s chicks). We discussed how adult birds of this species mimic raptors, instinctively exclude eggs and chicks from theirs nests from the time they hatch, and how they skillfully manage to get fed by the parents who raise them even after they grow a little larger. Our participants at this mini-lecture were very interested to hear how these acts of chick deception continue even after these birds leave the nest.