Until I read Hiroshi Noro’s letter “The Earth is a planet of flowers” in the Jan. 19 edition, I thought Queen of the Night was a song I’d heard in Meguro by an all-girl hard rock band.

As it turns out, the exotic flower Noro writes about is similar to one I know quite well. They’re both gorgeous and bloom only once a year, at night.

The flower known as Night-Blooming Cereus forms a hedge that spills over the rock wall that fronts my high school in Honolulu. Approaching the wall, the hedge looks like a dense tangle of green octopus arms.

The hedge runs hundreds of meters along the length of the wall. In late August, after dark, the yellow-white flower blooms by the hundreds, sweetening the humid air with an intoxicating fragrance.

No one seems to know when the flowers will start to open. But once they do, word gets out, and crowds gather to move slowly along the wall, gazing at the beautiful flowers and taking in the scent they release.

The next morning the flowers wither and die.

“I cannot imagine our world without flowers,” Noro writes.

There are flowers, and there are flowers.

Noro’s Queen of the Night and the Night-Blooming Cereus are both cacti. They have something to tell us.

Unlike Japan’s famous mosses, cacti don’t need a cool, moist environment to thrive.

Listen to what the flowers are saying.

Traditional Japanese gardens will acquire a different look. In Tokyo, the gardens of Happo-en, Chinzan-so and the International House of Japan will change.

Cultivating a beautiful garden will require more than the blessing of the weather gods. Carbon dioxide emissions need to be reduced. And Japan’s skilled gardeners will have to learn the art of xeriscaping.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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