The Treehouse of Roosevelt Road

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the fig tree that has taken root atop a dilapidated building on Temple Street in Hong Kong. 800 kilometres to the northeast, across the Taiwan Strait, there is something even more spectacular: an enormous tree that grows straight through an otherwise ordinary shophouse. You can find the […]

Meet the Fig Tree

It’s a fun exercise to think of how long it would take for reclaim our cities if humanity were to disappear overnight. How many months until Dubai is returned to the desert? How many hurricanes until New Orleans becomes part of the Gulf? Here in Hong Kong, nature’s plan is well underway. In a city […]

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A Citadel of Colonial Power — For Sale

Later this year, when Hong Kong’s government moves its headquarters to a glassy new building next to Victoria Harbour, it will leave behind the leafy hill it has called home since the 1840s. Rather than conserve the hill for public use, however, the government wants to sell half of it to developers, who plan to […]

The Masked Metropolis

Why do so many Japanese people wear masks? The question became stuck in my mind almost as soon as I arrived in Tokyo late last month. Everywhere I went, on the streets and in trains, nearly half of the people around me were wearing surgical masks. I already knew part of the answer: people wear […]

King Banyan

Chinese banyan tree in Yau Yat Chuen, Kowloon, Hong Kong

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Tokyo Serenity: Naka-Meguro

Whether surfacing, globetrotting, or merely in transit, it’s best never fully to trust the travel section. Take Tokyo, where over the last few years a number of writers have labored to portray the southwestern neighborhood of Naka-Meguro as tragically hip. Descending from Naka-Meguro’s elevated subway station into a quotidian landscape of utilitarian shops and services, […]

Hard Knocks for Hong Kong’s Trees

Wang Tong’s Ghost Tree. Photo by Larry Feign Furious residents of a village on the south side of Hong Kong’s Lantau Island say government workers have been hacking at the roots of a landmark rubber tree, raising questions about the government’s declared effort to improve tree management. Last Saturday, cartoonist Larry Feign was riding his […]

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The Tree Professor

Jim Chi-yung normally walks with a steady, deliberate pace, but on the grey afternoon of February 4th, he broke into an uncharacteristic sprint, running from his office at the University of Hong Kong to a friend’s waiting car. He was heading to Maryknoll Convent School in Kowloon Tong, where the future of a tree was […]

Exploding with Greenery

Chaotic, polluted, the cradle of Cantonese culture — these were some of the ways I had heard Guangzhou described before I visited last month. Reality was a bit different. It wasn’t chaotic at all; in fact, it was rather calm and orderly for a Chinese city. It was also less Cantonese than I expected. Cantonese […]

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Felled Tree

Last year, on June 10th, a sudden storm blew into Montreal with hurricane strength. It was brief but intense as fierce winds toppled trees across the city, including this one on Milton Street in the McGill Ghetto.

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Watch Out For the Tree

Bonham Road, near the University of Hong Kong

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Ginkgo / Silver Maple

Jarry Park, Park Extension, November 2nd, 2008

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Wall Trees

Wall tree on Bonham Road in Western Mid-Levels Walls are nothing special but wall trees certainly are. When I first came to Hong Kong I was astounded to see enormous banyan trees growing from what appeared to be the flat surface of a wall. I wasn’t mistaken: they really were growing out of walls. Every […]

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The City’s Arboreal Landscape

Late last month, as a breeze rustled through the leaves overhead, a small group of people stood at the corner of Laval Ave. and Sherbrooke St., waiting for a tree tour to begin. Their guide was Bronwyn Chester, a writer fascinated by trees, who has decided to share her knowledge by taking people around the […]