The Garden at The Pajama Factory

Today was a beautiful Fall day at The Pajama Factory.
The day held clear, blue skies with warm sun, but the unmistakable hint of Autumn. I took the opportunity to spend some time in the courtyard, exploring the garden with Koshka, the little black cat. Koshka spends most of her time inside, roaming the halls and visiting the studios and tenants, but likes to come out once in a while to explore and hunt for spiders.

Koshka, the Factory Cat
Koshka, the Factory Cat, inspects the garden.

I took the opportunity to do a bit of exploring myself. While I didn’t find as many spiders, I found lots of cool things to take pictures of.

Not long ago, one section of the garden was filled with yellow flowers, Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) They have since lost their petals, adopting a more somber beauty.

Black-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) That have lost their petals.

You may have seen these old-looking iron devices here and there throughout the grounds of the factory. While they somewhat resemble a fire hydrant, they’re actually an active part of the factory’s extensive sprinkler system.

Sprinkler Control Valve #5
Sprinkler Control Valve #5

This one caught me off guard—it’s a Chinese Lantern Plant, (Physalis alkekengi,) or, as I knew them when I first encountered them in Japan, a houzuki. In Japan, they are strongly associated with Summer and Fall—they last for months, gradually going from green to orange, before the papery flower’s shell disintegrates, leaving a skeleton of lace, surrounding a cherry-like fruit. The plant traditionally is associated with fertility in Japan, popularly kept by couples hoping to conceive a child, though ironically, the fruit itself has contraceptive properties, along with other medicinal uses.
Several times I went to the Houzuki-Ichi festival at Asakusa Shrine in Tokyo, a festival where vendors sell thousands of the plants, as they have every June 9-10th, since the Edo Period (1603 to 1868).
I didn’t expect to see on growing here in the garden, but Barb pointed it out to me, just as the sun was lighting it up.

Chinese Lantern Plant
Chinese Lantern Plant

This sure looks like a footprint from the kind of boots the astronauts wore on the moon. So how did it get on a rock here on Earth, in our very own courtyard? The obvious answer is that aliens visited the Pajama Factory millions of years ago.
Kidding aside, what the heck is this? A fossil? A sandstone concretion? It’s not carved or cut from the stone.

Rock with a spaceman's footprint?
Rock with a spaceman's footprint?

There’s lots of quartz crystals around, in clusters attached to rocks, as well as loose pieces to be found.

Quartz Crystal on the Ground
Quartz Crystal on the Ground

The old plow.

An old plow
An old plow

I’m not sure what these vines are. I thought they might be zucchini or something, but I haven’t seen any fruit developing. Whatever they are, I do like the way the tiny tendrils spiral as they reach out and climb whatever’s near.

Climbing Vines
Climbing Vines

Finally, a pepper growing near the front gate.

A small pepper
A small pepper