Alpine and woodland flora studies in Japan
By Colin Parberry
Colin Parberry, third year student, returned in July from a six week visit to Japan, studying the alpine and woodland flora of Northern Honshu and Hokkaido, as well as looking at the methods employed in the commercial production of alpine and herbaceous plants. The visit was jointly funded by the International Plant Propagator’s Society, Alpine Garden Society, Merlin Trust, the Stourhead Summer Events Committee and the Kew Guild.
The visit was centred around the activities of Hokkaido University Botanic Garden, Sapporo. Colin assisted in the monitoring of Primula yuparensis populations and the associated flora on Mount Yubari, which supports many endemics due to the rock’s high chrysotile asbestos content.
Work was also undertaken with Dr. Fujita, (Hokkaido University Botanic Garden), and students from the Faculty of Agriculture, monitoring plant species in a deep snow wetland at Nakayama toge, south of Sapporo. The wetland was reached after half an hour’s hike through Sasa which gave way to a totally secluded area of Hemerocallis, Hosta and Lysichiton camtschatcense, amongst other species.
He also spent time collecting seed of Viola vaginata, uncommon in Hokkaido, and Polemonium careuleum subsp. yezoense var. nipponicum for Hokkaido University Botanic Garden. Several days were also spent working within the alpine nursery of the Botanic Garden.
In Northern Honshu a five day visit to Tohoku Regional Office of National Parks and Wildlife, Aomori, enabled him to botanise Towada-ko, the Oirasse river gorge, Mt. Hakkoda and visit Tohoku University’s research station. Two further days were spent in the Hachimantai area, where visits to Mt. Iwate and Tazawa-ko were made with rangers from the National Park.
The last week was spent in the Tokyo area where he visited temple gardens in the ancient capital of Kamakura. Photographs of bamboo constructions were also taken to assist in the redevelopment of the Japanese Garden at Wakehurst Place.
Throughout the journey he visited several alpine and herbaceous specialist nurseries to study the techniques and materials used in the plant propagation and production.