I’ve just spent a whistle stop few days in Japan, lecturing and demonstrating at the world famous Barakura English garden. My lingering sore throat didn’t stop me from fulfilling 4 days of interacting with the keen gardeners in this horticultural oasis.

I was fully verse with the size of the hotel rooms before I arrived. I basically can’t lie down anywhere in them, other than on the bed, and then I still dangle off the end. In the bathroom, everything is manufactured as one single unit, meaning it uses the space efficiently. But, again, a lurching big Greek like myself just doesn’t have enough room to towel dry as efficiently as one should!

Given it was my second visit to the hotel, I was also well-trained with the buffet and it’s sometimes quite unpredictable dishes. Armed with my compartmentalised tray, I navigated through sushi, hot things and the pizza course! I was also a magnet to the designated wifi huddle areas!

I was super excited about my main lecture of Edible Plants, which I hoped to surprise the Barakura visitors with! Last time they marvelled at tulip petals being edible, but now I wanted to introduce them to chowing down on Begonia’s, Hemerocallis and Busy Lizzies! I also showed some edible weeds, purple carrots, yellow beetroot and how to grow and make your own coffee and green tea!
I was also on hand for any gardening and plant advice; helping to add that English flair to the gardens of the Japanese! And to top off the English experience at Barakura, my English compadres were also present; either cooking fish and chips, playing bagpipes or singing with a harp!

Preparing for my Edible Container demonstration was fun too, as I scoured the garden centre for edible flowers, herbs, veg plants and a few other novelties! The way to plant up a container here is totally different to the UK, and it’s absolutely okay to just pack the plants in. It’s like designing with plants, and is seen as only short term, so any rules are out of the window! 

I choose to create a calm, cottage garden style container with a speckled rose, origanum, dahlias and fuchsias… yes, all edible!

Then, I made a wow factor pot; with shockingly coloured Amaranth, ferny Parsley, slender Hosta and Nasturtiums. I designed it so you could turn the pot every day, and see something different, little pockets of colour and texture!

After my quick, quick visit, it was time to depart. However, I have again enjoyed my time with Barakura and hope I’ve inspired some Japanese gardeners with some quirky English plants and gardening know how! I just know they’ll all be going home to snack on their begonias now!

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