The Origin of Our Name - the Chi Garden
The word "Chi", is romanized from a traditional Chinese or Japanese Kanji word "蕺", owing to its origin from a common and much loved vegetable herb in many Asian countries. It is called 蕺草 (jicao) in ancient Chinese or Yuxingcao in current Chinese, Dokudami in Japanese, and Zhe Ergen in local dialect Chinese in SW China.
Wiikipedia gives the following despription in terms of dokudami's popularity in Asian countries. 'Houttuynia cordata (simplified Chinese: 鱼腥草; traditional Chinese: 魚腥草; pinyin: yúxīng cǎo; literally: "fishy-smell herb"; Japanese: dokudami 蕺草; Vietnamese: giấp cá; Lao: pak kao tong ຜັກຄາວທອງ; Thai: phakkaawtong ผักคาวตอง, ผักคาวทอง, พลูคาว; Korean: 약모밀, 어성초. In Manipur, it is known as toningkok,, in Hmar as Aithang, in Meghalaya it is known as Jamyrdoh, in Mizo as Uithinthang, and in Paite as "Aithanglou", Hrama in Poula. In English, it is known as fish mint, lizard tail, chameleon plant, heartleaf, fishwort, and bishop's weed. It is one of two species in the genus Houttuynia (the other being H. emeiensis), a flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, southern China, and Southeast Asia, where it grows in moist, shady places."
The word "蕺草 JICAO" literally means "poison blocking plant” or "the weaponry defending against poison". People in Asia use its leaves as well as its roots in salad or stir fry. It is widely used as a herb in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation symptom. But In North America, only very small number of Asian groceries supply the plant leave as herb. Much to our surprise, in our trip to Stratford Ontario in 2014, we discovered that the same plant but with trio-color leave, was used in an ornamental garden.
We like the meaning of poison blocking. We have both worked as environmental professionals altogether for some thirty years, and are fully aware that all over the world, there are full of locations of hazards as the result of industrialization and economic development, often times such hazards and harms are unknown or with little support to communities falling direct victim to the hazards.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) of the US, in 2014, did a referential information piece for researchers, as this plant shows important pharmacological activities - anti-mutagenic, anti-cancer, adjuvanticity, anti-obesity, hepatoprotective, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, free radical scavenging, anti-microbial, anti-allergic, anti-leukemic, chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps activities.
Because of the above, and our love for SW China local specialty food, We named our market garden after this plant. The Chi Garden hopes that organic gardening, making use of diversity of plants the nature has to offer, as well as the plants knowledge from different cultures particularly the first nation people who know this part of the world and nature endowment long before other late comers, can become a nest nurturing good health, good soil stewardship, and good relationship building.
Rather coincidentally, after we named our garden after the word "Chi", we got to know about the Chi-Cheemaun (Big Canoe in Ojibway first nation language) is the passenger and car ferry service traversing Lake Huron between Tobermory on Bruce Peninsula and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island, Ontario (see the following picture from the company's website). We would like to pay our tribute to the first nation man, Donald Keeshig, of Neyaashiinigmiing who came up with this name.
Wherever possible, we will try keeping the rough Chinese translation so that our friends and family can understand what we are doing and thinking.
然后有一天，我们说名字的时候，说起了我们都喜欢的鱼腥草。维基上说，鱼腥草在中国、日本、韩国、越南等东亚国家都作为食用和药用。日语里管它叫“蕺草” JICAO，翻译过来就是poison blocking plant－可以抵御毒性的植物。蕺字中草字头之下的戈即是此意。
Houttuynia cordata 在当地也叫变色龙草，chameleon plant，用于装饰庭院－花和叶子都好看。但是这个东方的植物的药用和食用功能，在亚洲蔬菜已经比较常见的北美洲，几乎没有人知道。大多伦多地区声称中国之外华人数量最多－有百万之众，可即便这里的的中国超市都很少见。这种植物苦、腥、但是回味甜，即便是中国人，有的极其喜欢，有的却是非常厌恶。
植物医学也逐渐认识鱼腥草的多种多样的医药功能。美国国立卫生院NIH去年做了一个文献汇集，列举了在不同国家，这种植物的多种药效，从anti-mutagenic抗基因突变, anti-cancer抗癌, anti-obesity 抗肥胖, 到hepatoprotective 保肝, anti-viral抗病毒, anti-bacterial抗病句, anti-inflammatory消炎, free radical scavenging清除自由基。这些药效在西方医学中，很多正在通过实验室和临床实践做出证明。
但是蕺草Ji Cao的拼音，在英文中不好发音。于是我们借鉴了威妥玛拼音系统，翻译称为Chi Garden。相由心生。看到Chi Garden可能还会想到