When I was a child, my grandparents used to take me to botanical gardens in southern Japan every season, every year! Westeria garden, Cherry Blossom festivals, Tropical garden, Rose garden, Peony garden, Azaria garden, Iris garden, Chrysanthemum garden, Mustard flower garden, and in the fall, they will take me to the mountain to see the fall colors!
My grandmother was an artist of "Kado" which is a traditional Japanese art originating from the Heian period in which flowers and plants are specially arranged in a vase for appreciation. It is also called "Ikebana." Whenever I visit my grandparent's house, the beautiful flower arrangement was displayed in their house. It was traditionally learnt by women as a part of bridal training. Nowadays, Ikebana is popular among many generations as enrichment lessons.
One block away from my house, there was an old lady who was a master of tea ceremony, and a master of "Ikenobo." Ikenobo style is the base of Ikebana established by Senoh Ikenobo. The master invited me to come to her Japanese Tea Ceremony class when I was 10 years old. I was interested in everything new, so I asked my mother to see if I could start learning. As a child, my reason for taking tea ceremony was very simple. Because I wanted to eat the cute little Traditional Japanese sweets that served with Matcha! Such a dedication! I had to sit still for hours!! Learn all of the manners, how to serve, how to drink, how to wash the bowl, how to cut the sweets, which one to take... Can't pick the biggest piece of sweets on the plate! Gotta get it from the end in order. I can't count how many times I disappointed by getting the smallest piece of my favorite sweets!! This one was not my favorite lessons to take! But I took this classes for years.
When I became 12 years old, the master asked me if I am interested in Ikebana lessons. Tea ceremony and Ikebana goes together usually. I was always interested in her flower arrangement, so I said yes. So she offered me to teach Ikebana lessons after tea ceremony lessons. Additional one hour of sitting! But that class was so much fun. Every week, she gathered different flowers and plants and taught me how to place each plants in "Ikenobo" style. The lessons were pretty simple. She has the exact same set of plants as mine. My job was to imitate hers exactly. Once I complete it, we take down all of the flowers and plants from "Kenzan" which is a circle of needles, take it home, and do it the exactly how it was done. I loved this class so much that I joined the "Ikebana" club in the middle school, and become a leader of the club.
Ever since then, I have done many flower arrangements by myself as well as with my master. The most memorable flower arrangement that I have done was for the graduation ceremony for my school. My master and I placed over few thousand dollar worth of flowers and plants in a huge vase. I was only 14 years old, and she was standing right beside me and showed me every step of the way! Skilled that I have learned as a child is something that never forget. This was one of the VERY FEW that I have never got a "Butt Whopping" from my mother, because it was so much fun, and I truly enjoyed it.
I have so much respect for the master. She was so kind, and very well known master in the region. But she never charged any money to teach me those skills. She taught me everything for free. When I teach gardening to our local youth, I always remember how she treated me. More than just the skills. The attitude is what we need to transpire to our younger generations.
As I was growing up, my dream was to visit all flower gardens in the world such as Tulip Festival in Amsterdam, Lavender fields in France. I am not sure if I can, but now as a gardener, I feel like maybe I can turn my own yard to a miniature Amsterdam, Japan, and wherever I wanted to go! After the flood, and everything wiped out, I started to grow flowers little by little to find out what grows in the desert. Then one day, it clicked! Start the big flower garden, and provide floral arrangements to everyone using the flowers and plants that are grown in my garden. Of course, in special occasions, I may have to find flowers elsewhere. But my goal is to grow flowers to show people that all things are possible in all beautiful ways and provide beautiful and peaceful scenery to uplift their spirit.
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America's largest wildlife conservation and education organization, is pleased that Kozue Maye at Poof Dirt Farms in Pahrump, NV has successfully created a certified Wildlife Habitat through its garden for "Wildlife" movement.