|Happy happy nursery day. |
Even the moss is happily blooming from the edge of this wooden shelf.
Grace Lee has previously shown me the wonders of a Korean nursery, but today's was the best EVER.
Let's back up a bit. If you wanted to buy cut flowers in our Korean city, I don't know where you'd go. We've looked and looked - there just aren't flower shops like what you'd find in the US, or bunches of flowers in the supermarket, etc. (On graduation day, hordes of vendors show up on campus to hawk gaudy bouquets, but I haven't found where those folks hide the rest of the year). Rather than flowers, Koreans buy and give plants. Nearly every apartment has a balcony (where one's washing machine and drying racks live) that is stuffed with beautifully potted plants. The pot and decorative toppings are as important as the plant itself, and this is an area where Western influences combined with Korean adoration of all things cute has had
terrible tacky regrettable consequences (see here for photos of foam-formed animal inserts, grammatically-awkward sayings, and aggressively glossy plants that seem less like a gift than a bad joke).
Where were we? Ah - in addition to potted plants, many nurseries make big money catering to funeral and grand open markets. Which, upon re-reading, I see with my American eyes to be a rather strange and perhaps disturbing concept. So, to get even further off track, Koreans love big old floral displays (about 2m tall) for funerals, consisting mostly of white mums and plastic fan-like ferns and giant ribbons with a Korean or Chinese saying perhaps along the lines of "we're sorry your're dead." Koreans also use strikingly similar displays for new businesses (just substitute gerbera daisies and lilies for the mums, plus a presumably more cheerful banner). Put those and a giant GRAND OPEN (not "grand opening") banner on the front of the store and you're in business.
|A mighty Grand Open fleet of floral displays.|
I have clearly digressed and can't remember where I'm going with this. At all.
Oh, yes. To buy flowers or flowering plants, one must locate a nursery (to buy plants for your vegetable garden, head for your local city sidewalk for excellent deals on tomato, squash, and pepper seedlings). Once one finally figures out what a Korean nursery looks like (think: run-down greenhouse-turned-storefront with a pots and plants haphazardly stacked out front and a 꽃 sign to signify flower or bloom), one begins to notice them everywhere.
ANYWAY. Grace took me to a new place today (introduced to her by our neighbor, the amazing landscape designer Mihae). And it was heaven. Not a tacky animal, made-in-China pot, or gaudy ribbon anywhere. Instead, we found hundreds of hand-thrown Korean pots with well-loved native plants and wildflowers
casually rustically artistically arranged floor-to-ceiling (I can't even convey with pictures the sense of "lovingly piled like a hippie hoarder"). Moss grew thickly on wooden surfaces and pretty much everywhere else; random plants grew from the ground where seeds and cuttings had dropped. The whole place would fit in a racquetball court, but we spent a happy hour just wandering and exclaiming and discovering.
|The only clear area in the shop. |
Note that the cash register was stored
UNDER the near end of the counter.
|Even a hole in a rock gets a tiny plant.|
|Rustic hangers and stacks of pots put plants at every level.|
Now for the really cool thing about Korean nurseries. You can bring your own flowerpot, pick out a plant, and they'll pot it for you - even if the plant you like is already in a nice pot and priced to go (you can also bring your own plant, buy a pot from them, and they'll pot it for you). Happily, today's nursery owner had a particular talent for beautiful potting arrangements, was quite outgoing, and rather enjoyed teaching the professors about her style of potting plants (Grace was a great translator).
|Pots, plants, and soil-less soil: just tiny rocks (마사?) mixed with small clay pellets for water retention. |
This mixture makes transplanting much easier than soil but requires more regular watering.
|Commentary on the roots.|
|I think she ripped this moss off the floor behind her. |
Tear moss into bits and press firmly around the plant.
Then add small red decorative rocks. Water thoroughly.
|She followed the same process for our other plants:: off-center placement, 마사 stuff, |
lava rock, red decorative stone toppings, moss shreds, water.
|Finally, she packed the plants up, showed us our totals on the ever-present Korean calculator (my jasmine and mystery-variegated plant came to 30,000, or about $28), and brought them out to the car for us.|
I shall certainly return, with friends and money. I love her so much - and I don't even know her name. :)
|My jasmine plant.|
|Grace's lovely "Miss Kim" miniature lilac.|
|Grace's tiny trees in a windowsill pot.|