Exploring the Street Gardens of Tokyo
“Green follows me wherever I go,” says Jessie Webb, a Brisbane based photographer and screen printer with a serious penchant for plants. Each year she travels to Japan to wander the streets, camera in hand. For a self confessed plant perv like Jessie, Tokyo’s street gardens provide great joy and inspiration. She’s shared her plant/life story and some of her recent images of Japan with us, shot on unedited 35mm film. Enjoy!
I have a house and studio full of plants, inspired by my late grandmother’s garden in the Mornington Peninsula, my mother’s country garden in remote Central Queensland and the gardens and plant collections I see in my friends spaces, strangers studios and houses, and on my drives in my town.
My own personal plant collection began when I moved out of home to go to university. I had a small courtyard in my inner city Toowoomba home and began getting plants one by one from markets, nurseries, gifts, exchanges and clippings from the street.
Over time this got a bit out of hand. My obsession with plants changed from being about collection and admiration to knowledge and care. I began collecting garden and indoor plant books from op-shops and fairs, I read articles online and got advice from other fellow plant enthusiasts. My favourite memories from living in Toowoomba were conversations I had with old folk about certain plants, about seasonal growth, troubleshooting gnats, proper fertilisation and other tips and tricks.
Each plant became a part of my life, each with it’s own special memories and moments. Some of my friends think its a problem, but I find it therapeutic. Everywhere I turn I see plants; I see sad plants, I see happy plants. Green follows me wherever I go.
Each of the last three years I have travelled to Japan to explore and eat. Most importantly, though, I roam the streets admiring the way in which the Japanese collect and showcase their plants. As most people live in apartments or extremely small houses without a garden or backyard, almost every second house or street corner has an amazing collection of potted plants on display outside.
Its an amazing glimpse into urban life in Japan, with many people out and about weeding, pruning or sweeping. This for me, is my favourite part of the country.
For a person like me, who is terribly interested in a plant collector’s house or garden (I’m the one standing on my tippy-toes peeking over over someone’s back fence), the street gardens mean I get to glimpse at everyone’s collection. Not only do Japan’s street gardens promote clean air and a healthier lifestyle, they create a sense of community, trust and safety, with a strong connection between home and nature.
All photos were shot on unedited 35mm film and documented walking around suburbs in Tokyo.