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Green Curtains - Both Pleasant and Enjoyable!

When taking a walk one morning, Rachel comes across Shigeru, one of her neighbors, who is busy watering his garden.

Green Curtains - Both Pleasant and Enjoyable!

Rachel

Good morning there, Shigeru. The leaves on that plant look rather cute. Can I ask what you are trying to grow?

Shigeru

Well hello there, Rachel. I am attempting to grow something called a “green curtain.”

Rachel

What? You're growing a “curtain”?

Shigeru

(Laughing) A “green curtain” involves training a vine-type plant to crawl up a net that has been set up in front of a window or on an external wall. The idea is that the vine will grow and act block the harsh summer sunlight from shining into rooms.

Rachel

As the vine continues to grow and its foliage thickens, it will act to cover the window. That is why the phenomenon is called a curtain! I understand.

Shigeru

That is correct. Moreover, a green curtain like this one will not just act to block the bright sunlight from shining into rooms. Rather in areas such as walls of the home, verandas, and places around the house, it will create areas of shade which will prevent heat being absorbed. By doing this, it will stop heat from outside the home being conveyed into the rooms.

Rachel

For a similar purpose I erect yoshizu (screens made from reeds) in front of my windows.

Shigeru

Yes, yoshizu are good for blocking direct sunlight. However, with green curtains, there is also the advantage of them being a living plant. Thus when the water that is drawn up from the roots evaporates through the leaves, heat in the surrounding area is cast off.

Rachel

In other words, the temperature of the air in the vicinity of a green curtain is reduced?

Shigeru

That is correct. Moreover, because wind that passes through a green curtain becomes cooler due to the presence of plant moisture, the effect is that cooler breezes are drawn into rooms.

Rachel

I see! So this is a form of wisdom that acts to reduce heat through using the power of nature! It is also ecologically-friendly and looks visually cool.

Shigeru

In that morning glory plants were also used during Edo times as creepers outside long tenement houses, the wisdom of this idea is long established.

Rachel seems to have become very interested in the green curtain idea.

Rachel

I think I will also try to create a green curtain. That being said, I don’t have a garden.

Shigeru

Does your apartment have a balcony? If you line up some planter boxes on your balcony, it is also possible to create a green curtain.

Rachel

On my balcony? How would I go about setting up a net?

Shigeru

If there are some hooks on the ceiling of your balcony, the process is rather simple. Even without hooks, you could make good use of items such as a gardening trellis or tensioned poles.

Rachel

However, we are already into June. Is there still enough time for me to create a green curtain?

Shigeru

If you are going to start now, rather than planting seeds, you would be better off buying some seedlings and planting them. You can pick up seedlings at horticulturists and home centers.

Rachel

What sort of plants are best suited to making green curtains?

Shigeru

The varieties usually used include goya (bitter gourds), hechima (sponge gourds) and morning glory plants. As this is your first time, I would recommend using goya because they are so easy to grow. There are also numerous home pages that you can refer to in order to find out more information about growing green curtains.

Rachel

I see.

Shigeru

Moreover, green curtains can be enjoyed not merely due to their cooling effect. You can also enjoy the flowers and fruit that they bear.

Rachel

When the goya appear on the vine, you can harvest and eat them!

Shigeru

Yes, champuru that includes goya that you have grown yourself is delicious!

Rachel

That just encourages me even more!

Shigeru

Well if there is anything that you don't know, you can ask my advice at any time. I wish you the best of luck.

■The Minister of the Environment Green Curtain Project - Grow Your First Green Curtain
http://funtoshare.env.go.jp/green/index.html (in Japanese only)