We have a little backyard behind our house in Osaka. It is 8.5mx6m=51 m2 large and includes a wooden deck of 13.3 m2. Maybe small for some European standards, it is large enough to grow flowers and vegetables for fun and little personal consumption. Our connection to gardening came from early on: while Thomas was introduced to gardening by his father and tended his own flower bed in his childhood, Aurora grew up on the rice growing countryside in the northern Philippines.

When we began renting the house, the garden was covered with an about 10cm thick layer of sand that probably was intended to reduce the growth of weeds. The first action we took was to remove the sand, dig it under and to improve the soil by composting every fallen leave and tree branch, even adding cut leaves from neighboring yards. The result is that the soil became very fertile over the years. When in the beginning no single earth worm could be found in the soil, it is now teaming with insect activity. Everything is grown organically, no pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used. Butterflies love to come to the lemon trees to lay their eggs, so that we need to observe and plug the larvae by hand from the leaves.

The tables below list all planted trees, shrubs, vines, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. There are also 4 Japanese trees that belong to the house not listed here.

We have a whole “plantation” of lemon grass. Aurora uses it with many Filipino dishes, especially fish. It gives a lemon like flavor and neutralizes any unpleasant “fishy” tastes. We also have big quantities of bazil grown from seeds that we use to make great pesto. (But careful need to be those who have a nut allergy as there is ample pin nuts in pesto).Lemon grass
Large bitter gourd
Each summer one of our favorites is “Nigauri”. We already planted it all these years using the seeds from the previous years, way before it became popular in the recent years. It grows quickly in the hot summer days. We use the bitter gourds and the leaves in Filipino cooking.

The white flowers of the Rosal (Tagalog, it is gardenia jasminoides) have an incredible beautiful fragrance. Also a wonderful smell comes with the jasmine. Osmanthus is a favorite garden shrub in Japan also due to its intense smell.

Minoh city is 30minute from Umeda, Osaka center. Nevertheless, quite a few of interesting insects like colorful butterflies, moth, caterpillars, wild bees and many of those blood sucking mosquitoes can be found. The mosquitoes are a plague in summer. There are also lizards, grass hoppers, cicadas, and once I thought I saw a raccoon. The neighbor’s cat is also touring the precincts to check whether there is still gold fish in the little “pond”.

    Spring Flowers 2013 in a collage picture:

Collage All Spring Flowers


Other pictures out of the garden are in the following picture gallery (click to get see larger picture)


Big Butterfly

Bitter gourd


Butterfly on marigold

Catarpillar at lemon tree

Collage All Spring Flowers

Cucumber 57 cm long




Hairy catapillar on lemon tree


Hot Peppers


Large bitter gourd

Lemon grass



Magnolia tree


Orange Flower Entrance

Peach tree flowers

Radish Harvest


Red flowers driveway

Small Orchids

Spring flowers

Terrace with Sweet Peas

Tomato harvest 2012

White Orchid

 Copyright Thomas & Aurora Strutz